Barolo, once tradition-bound and closed to the outside world, is changing and welcoming visitors to wander their wineries, visit their cellars and taste their famous red wine. Marchesi di Barolo’s Anna Abbona is taking Langhe hospitality a step further, offering wine and food and vertical tastings at their winery. I speak to her about her vision for her ‘complete wine experience’ in their historic cellars in Barolo town.
I have special memories of my own visit to the Marchesi di Barolo winery in October 2016 . A day trip from our hotel in Benevello saw us driving into the charming village of Barolo (one of 11 communes which make up the larger DOCG region making Barolo wines) on a bright sunny day. First on my list of visits was to the winery of Marchesi di Barolo, owned by the Abbona family.
The cantine is located in the mansion opposite the castle of Marchese Falletti and also houses the noted cellars of Marchesa Juliette (Giulia), the Frenchwoman who refashioned Barolo into the rich, powerful and famous red wine it is today. Here, there is also a shop, tasting room and the winery itself.
We were warmly welcomed. Anna was on her way, we were told. Harvest was underway and the buzz was perceptible.
The shop was a food and wine lover’s delight, and I browsed to my heart’s content (held back in part by a reminder of the airline’s baggage allowance). Shortly, we were directed to the tasting tables to commence our tasting session with the Marchesi di Barolo Gavi di Gavi 2015 – a fresh, straw-coloured crisp, white wine made of the signature Cortese grapes, when I could tear myself away from the pretty Barolo themed merchandise – marmalades of the region, truffle oils and indeed little jars of white and black truffles: it was the start of Alba’s glorious truffle season.
Soon, Anna Abbona breezed in, and from then the morning was a whirlwind of activity – more tastings, the cellar tour where the historic Slavonian botti of Marchesa Juliette sat along with the smaller barriques – before we were guided to the restaurant for lunch.
A lover of fine Barolo will know that this Italian red wine is a true food wine – when decanted and served with the right food it can transport you to many levels of food-induced ecstasy. So here we were – eating an unhurried lunch in the large private restaurant Foresteria, overlooking a bank of beautiful vineyards, laden with plump grapes – did I mention it was harvest time? There can be no better way to spend a day in Barolo than doing such a deep dive into its famous red wine and its creators.
To discover more about Anna’s dream of “the complete wine experience” and how she created it in Barolo, take a look at the three videos from my YouTube channel, Talking Wine with Ruma Singh (below). These interviews were done on Anna’s recent visit to India, in January 2018. It was great catching up!
NB: In future, I look forward to exploring the vertical tastings of Marchesi di Barolo wines from their historic enoteca – an experience which traces the evolution of the famous ‘Wine of Kings’ since its birth, and part of the Marchesi di Barolo’s hospitality offering.
Anna Abbona, Part 1: The history of a historic winery, Marchesi di Barolo
Anna Abbona Part 2: Why both traditional and modern winemaking are important for Barolo
Anna Abbona Part 3: Anna’s dream – ‘the complete wine experience’ at Marchesi di Barolo, from dining to a historic vertical tasting of Barolos