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Many view the red wines from Barolo as Italy's best-so much so that they're sometimes called the "King" of Italian wines. They enjoyed a privileged position; King Victor Emmanuel II's son developed the vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba. This association with Italy's first King gave Barolo a cachet that it never lost.

Barolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo , and is the most powerful wine to be made from this grape. Traditional Barolo was fermented for several weeks in large Slovenian oak casks, then aged in these casks for several years. The wine generally has a light color and quickly develops an orange-brown tint, which can incorrectly be taken as premature aging.

"Modernist" methods were introduced by a group of young producers. They cut fermentation times and aged the wines in small, French oak barrels. The result was a wine that had silkier tannins and more fruit. "Traditionalists" said the wines weren't recognizable as Barolo.

The war is just about over, with the usual compromise. The modernists have reduced the oak flavors, while the traditionalists have made wines that can soften in less than 10 years.

Barolos are still noted for their ability to age. Young Barolo remains tough and tannic and needs time, usually at least 5 years, to soften. DOCG rules require Barolo to age for a minimum of 3 years, including two years in wooden barrels.

Once softened, they open up to be a wines of contradictions. They are light in color, yet full-bodied and very full of flavor. The aromas are of violets, but the flavors are very rich, of black fruit, chocolate, earth and tar. At its peak, Barolo can be one of the most elegant and complex wines in the world.

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