Fratelli Revello | Barolo | A Great Barolo that Doesn’t Break the Bank?? | Barolo Wars

Fratelli Revello | 2010 | A Great Barolo that Doesn’t Break the Bank??

Barolo is considered one of the top wines of the world and has been called “the King of Wines.” However, the Barolo today has come a long way from the wine produced 200 years ago. Back then, any Barolo under 10 years was virtually undrinkable, and most would take 20-25 years to come into their own. Today, while the wait time is dramatically shorter (due in part to something called the “Barolo Wars” which we’ll explain further down), Barolos still require longer aging and care than most wines. This care pays off to become one of the most desired wines around…which also contributes to its high price tag.

So lo’ and behold! We were so excited when we discovered the 2010 Barolo from Fratelli Revello. Priced at $35 a bottle, this wine is a complete steal for the quality it delivers. It’s both bold and friendly and is fun to sip by itself or pair with any hearty dish.

Review

Appearance: Medium-full body, a red-copper color
Nose: Spices, vanilla, and cedar
Taste: Bright acidity, red cherries, hints of tobacco, and graphite. The wine finishes strong on the palate and leaves notes of dusty tannins and vanilla.
Origin: Piedmont, Italy
Composition: 100% Nebbiolo grapes
Vintage: 2010
Price: $35
Food Pairing: Red meat dishes, pasta dishes with savory tomatoes, porcini mushroom risotto (we’ve included a recipe below for the most amazing risotto dish, taught by Chef Moreno Maglia from Gittana, Italy,  whose family has owned their restaurant for 500 years). The acidity in the Barolo really helps cut through fatty dishes, making it a perfect complement.
Rating: 92/100

Porcini Mushroom Risotto Recipe

Il Caminetto – where we learned this Risotto recipe

Per chef Moreno, the way to make a good risotto is to follow the Italian traditional method.

  1. Use CARNAROLI rice. It has the best size, shape, and quantity of starch resistance during cooking 
  2. Good, unsalted better and fresh grated parmesan cheese
  3. Homemade broth – nothing is better!
  4. Toast the rice until it has a shimmery color before adding liquids. This helps it so it doesn’t break down and turn into a thick soup!

Ingredients for 4 portions, cooking time 18-19 minutes

  • 10 oz Carnaroli rice
  • 1/3 oz of dry porcini mushrooms soaked in water for 10 minutes (Whole Foods is a great place to find these)
  • ¾ gallons of a beef broth or vegetable stock (as reserve)
  • 3.5 oz butter
  • 5 tbs of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbs of finely chopped white onion
  • 1 small apple, sliced

Steps

  1. In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the rice, and toast the rice until its shimmery
  2. Add the wine and simmer until it reduces
  3. Add enough broth to cover the rice and stir
  4. Add the mushrooms
  5. Add a ladle of broth, stir, and repeat each time the previous ladle of broth cooks off
  6. Continue step 5 for about 20 minutes
  7. Remove from heat, add the rest of the butter and cheese. Stir one more time to form a creamy consistency
  8. Serve hot!

Barolo Beginnings

Barolo Region. Credit: Intovino

The word “Barolo” first started making an appearance on wine labels in the mid-19th century, around the same time glass bottles were introduced to the region. Prior to that, Barolo was only found in casks. Today, we know Barolo as a dry wine, that has heavy acidity, tannins, and alcohol.  The old Barolo, prior to the mid-1800s, was very sweet and fruity. The Nebbiolo grape (the grape used to make Barolo), ripens in late October and is harvested in November and December. At that time, the temperature is cool enough to pause fermentation, which leaves a large amount of sugar in the wine.

To get to the Barolo we know today, Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, enlisted the help of a French winemaking expert, to ferment the grape completely dry, in the mid-1800s. This marked the first modern Barolo. Then, Giulietta Falletti, Marchioness of Barolo, enlisted the same French winemaker to develop a Bordeaux-style wine, which captured the attention of King Carlo Alberto di Savoia. This wine, which Falletti called “Barolo,” was supposedly so superb that the King purchased two estates to produce the wine. Around the same time, Emanuele Alberto Guerrieri – the illegitimate son of the first king of Italy (Vittorio Emmanuele II), also began planting vines around a family refuge called Fontanafredda (now one of the best-known Barolo producers in the world). This association with the Kings helped bring Barolo to the spotlight as “the wine of kings, the king of wines.”


The Barolo Wars

Traditionally, Barolo took more than 10 years to become ready for consumption. In the 1970s and 80s, the market wanted fruitier, less tannic wines that they could consume sooner. This shift in consumer demand led to a rift between those wanted to develop a sweeter Barolo that took less time to age, and those who wanted to stick by the traditional, “authentic” method.  The disagreement between the two groups was intense, even causing life-long rifts between family members. This rift was known as the “Barolo Wars.” One of the leaders of the modernist side was Elio Altare. His family had been producing Barolo in the traditional method (which included fermenting wines in enormous wooden vats) for many generations. Elio Altare took those vats, smashed them up, and use the smaller pieces to create wooden barrels that are closer to the size used today. Needless to say, his father was furious that he not only deviated from a tried-and-true method but ruined the vats that were used in the family for generations (the two never spoke again and Elio was removed from his father’s will).

While a tragic family story, these “rebels” developed a way to make Barolo that quickened fermentation and shortened the aging period, which created less tannic and paler wines. (If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a documentary called the Barolo Boys: The Story of a Revolution).

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