Barolo - Confessions of a wine tourist

by Caesar Glebbeek

Barolo, Piemonte. A small village with a beautiful castle at the top of the hill. Pity then that the Barolo wine tasting at the Enoteca Regionale Del Barolo in the castle (1 glass for 5,000 or 3 for 10,000 Lires) was disappointing, to say the least. When I was there in May 2001, they offered three different Barolos from 1996 for tasting - "a light one, one medium, and finally a full-bodied one". The "light one" was so poor I did not even finish it (rare for me as I usually gulp up anything that's red!). The "medium" wine was kind of okay and the best of the three. But still nothing to write home about... So, if you want to taste an exceptional, top-class Barolo, head straight for Cantina Boschis (Via Vittorio Emanuele 3) in town! When I was there they sold only two different wines, one of them a Barolo / Boschis Francesco & Figli DOCG 1982 Riserva. I was offered a glass and I swear I got a tear in my right eye of sheer joy when I tasted it! A superb wine and certainly the best Barolo I have tasted thus far (1982 was "a dream year" according to those who know these sort of things). No "modern" wine-nonsense applied to the wine by the Boschis family, just a Barolo as it should taste: full of traditional style and barrels of flavour. much was this 1982 red baby gonna set me back I wondered? Since there were no prices on the bottles in the cantina, the lady (probably Mrs.Boschis herself) in the cantina wrote it down for me. "48,000." Gosh, I thought, that's pretty cheap! I bought one bottle (and passed the wine tip onto an American couple from California that I had bumped into, they instantly bought one too) and thought little of the low price until I got back home some weeks later. Interested to find out some details about the wine and it's producer, I logged onto the WWW and a search found two places that still sold the wine, for USD 105, that's about a staggering 222,000 Lires! Oops! That was a lot more as the 48,000 I had paid. Next I had a pal of mine in Italy call Cantina Boschis in Barolo and place an order for six more bottles. The reply was: "It's simply impossible to find a 1982 Barolo for 48,000 Lires! The correct price is 108,000." So, I had ended up with a real bargain! I still have the bottle (until Christmas, that is!).

  • Tourist tip: guided tour of the castle (Castello dei Marchesi Falletti di Barolo), it lasts 30 minutes. Lires 6,000. * Food tip: Ristorante La Cantinetta, Via Roma 33. You can buy decent Barolo by the glass for Lires 10,000.