What is the difference between Nebbiolo and Barolo?

Bottles of Nebbiolo and Barolo Boroli

hose who look at the Piedmontese wine scene may find themselves in the position of investigating the difference between Nebbiolo and Barolo: two excellences that describe a land rich in history and flavors, starting from the deepest roots.

The genesis of excellent wine is a synthesis exercise. A work of translation that involves the cycle of the seasons and the uniqueness of the territory, the wine culture and the structure of the land, which encloses the breadth of the landscape in the volume of a bottle. It is a wonder that has been celebrated for thousands of years: a story that passes from generation to generation, a secret across the different vintages to reveal itself in the unmistakable taste of every single sip.

The exceptional depository of these perceptions is a grape tied in two strands with a generous territory, rich in beauty and nuances: Nebbiolo. The native grape variety of Piedmont par excellence, noble and exclusive, requires expert and wise cultivation. The Langhe region – a land where Nebbiolo reaches splendid quality peaks – is home to powerful and elegant wines at the same time, full-bodied and structured.

A remarkable viticultural history, of international fame, starts from the single grape: a black and precious berry, in which it is possible to recognize the origin of the name: the dense opacity of the skin – given by an abundance of bloom – suggests the typical shielding of the fog, the same that rests on the soft hills of the Langhe in the harvest season.

The Boroli family has known every detail of Nebbiolo, in all its seasons, for over 30 years. Among these, to savor the most evocative notes of this wine excellence, 2021 was a particularly generous and balanced year, with a mild climate and good rainfall. The Langhe Doc Nebbiolo by Achille Boroli from 2021 is a bottle full of character and freshness, to be enjoyed in company, one sip at a time to enjoy the progress of all the sensory stimuli. It has a bright red color, with fresh and fruity notes – reminiscent of plum and black cherry and the tannins are velvety and harmonious; a balanced stimulus architecture, the perfect expression of the reference cru, which is a dialogue between product and territory, between product and processing excellence.

Speaking of processing, what is the difference between Nebbiolo and Barolo? Let’s start with the main aspect: Nebbiolo is the grape variety, and Barolo is one of the wines produced by the wine-making of Nebbiolo grapes. We will go into more detail below.

When does a wine become a Barolo?

The Barolo is considered by many expert oenologists and sommeliers the maximum expression of Nebbiolo and the Langhe region. Known as the “king of wines and wine of the kings”, it is a product of a very high reputation, a bottle passed from hand to hand among the brightest names in the history of Italy: form Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, the Kings Carlo Alberto and Vittorio Emanuele II to the Marquise Giulia of Barolo. Barolo is aristocratic and powerful, deep and refined. An explosion of tastes and aromas that lights up every season with intense accents of violet, spices, licorice, ripe fruit, leather, tobacco and minerals; a sumptuous taste, long-lasting and with a long tradition behind. An intensity that takes on the character of a masterpiece.

But let’s clarify a fundamental question: when does a wine become Barolo?

To fall within the definition – and the certified designation – of Barolo DOCG, wine must comply with strict parameters. First of all, it is necessary to use only pure Nebbiolo grapes. In addition, the vine must meet precise characteristics in terms of exposure (not facing north) and altitude 170 to 540 metres above sea level). Other limitations are derived from crop density, pruning technique and soil composition.

Barolo is an excellence born in the territory of the Langhe, the heart of Piedmontese oenology where history and nature, geology and tradition move at the same pace. The sub-geographic area of reference is comprised of eleven municipalities in the province of Cuneo: Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d ‘Alba and part of the municipalities of Monforte d ‘Alba, Novello, La Morra, Verduno, Grinzane Cavour, Diano d ‘Alba, Cherasco and Roddi.

How much does Barolo have to age?

Barolo, one of the most renowned oenological excellences within and beyond national borders, qualifies for the vocation to ageing. The privilege of the DOCG label requires at least 38 months of permanence in the cellar, of which 18 must be in wood. In its Reserve version, the ageing period lasts for a minimum of 62 months (equal to over 5 years). A sublime pleasure: slow processing and persistent on the palate.

The ageing in wood – the core of the Barolo wine-making process – follows the method of two different schools of thought. This is precisely the ageing method of the 2018 Barolo DOCG proposed by the Boroli winery: a direct synonym of elegance that suggests intense, complex tastings. Velvety tannins, bright red color, and memories of sweet berries and licorice are the main elements of a lyrical synesthesia that lights up with each sip. A wine that describes an unmistakable terroir, a decisive character, forged by a summer of gradual development and abundant rains –  one of the best vintages of the decade.

The difference between Nebbiolo, Barolo and Barbaresco

Barolo is not the only major player in the wine production of the Langhe region. To contend for the throne of king of Piedmontese wines, another excellence of the territory has emerged in more recent times. Barbaresco is a lovable and refined wine, that, while retaining the majesty of its rival, is enlivened by fruity and floral notes of undergrowth and white pepper. So what is the difference between Nebbiolo, Barolo and Barbaresco? As we know, Nebbiolo is the typical vine of the Langhe territory, of which Barolo is one of the most important labels. Barbaresco DOCG is also a wine resulting from the pure vinification of Nebbiolo, cultivated in slightly sandier soils, corresponding to the municipalities of Barbaresco, Neive, Treiso and the hamlet of San Rocco Senodelvio, aggregated with the municipality of Alba. A few miles away, these products have two well-defined identities.

The Nebbiolo grape has another peculiarity: it can tell the story of its territory with extraordinary precision. Its long roots are extremely receptive – they reach seven meters of depth without difficulty – and collect the most hidden and peculiar characteristics of the soil; an open book on the wonders of a region to be told year after year as chapters of a story that is lost in the depths of the oenological culture of the beginning.

The difference between Nebbiolo and Barolo in terms of taste is played in the details. These protagonists ultimately express the entire heritage – oenological, cultural, of the landscape – of the Langhe, a territory where the hills are brushed like an artist’s canvas. Barolo and Barbaresco are distinguished by minor details: the first has a greater depth, and the second is slightly more graceful. It’s a matter of nuances, but in a land like this, nuances are everything. Come visit us to discover more!


The Boroli cellars, located in Castiglione Falletto, are the perfect place to experience the magical territory of the Langhe through tasting experiences and to enjoy an unforgettable experience of discovery and great wine.

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