Barolo is produced from the Nebbiolo grapes although the Lampia, Michet and Rosé types are authorized for this wine as well. Barolo matures at the end of September (well as long as our weather and climate does not change much more), and the clusters are a dark blue/grayish color covered with their own wax. Barolo typically smells of tar and roses, and is capable of taking on an unusual orange tinge with age; the initial nose of a Barolo is often that of a pine tree. When subjected to aging of at least five years, the wine can then be labeled as a Reserve and for connoisseurs, it is Italy's most collected wine; for beginners it is a difficult one to understand.
In the past all Barolos used to be very tannic and they took more than 10 years to soften up. The fermenting wine usually stayed on the skins for at least three weeks, extracting huge amounts of tannins; then it was aged in large, wooden casks for years.
In order to meet the international taste, which preferred fruitier, more accessible styles, the "modernists" cut fermentation times to a maximum of ten days and put the wine in new French barriques. The results, according to traditionalists, were not even recognizable as Barolo and tasted more of new oak than of wine. Thus, the Barolo wars began between traditionalists and modernists.
Today, the war has subsided although outspoken modernists are still committed to new oak and there are many producers who are now choosing the middle ground, often using a combination of barriques and large casks. The more prestigious houses still reject barriques and insist on patience for their wines (considering them far superior). As such, these have become auction staples, sought after by wine aficionados in Italy, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the United States.
For those of you who are interested, here is a list of the wineries producing in the traditional methods as well as, the modernists (note from previous post on Barolo Chinato, we purchased one from Ceretto, loving the balanced flavors of that liquid luxury).
Traditionalist producers include: Giuseppe Rinaldi, Marcarini, Bartolo Mascarello, Brovia, Giuseppe Mascarello, Cavallotto, Giacomo Conterno, Giacomo Borgogno, Paolo Conterno, Comm. Burlotto, Oddero, Barale, Cavallotto, Cappellano, Massolino, Bruno "the Maestro" Giacosa, Luigi Pira, Vietti (especially the Riserva Villero), Vajra.