A Wine Tasting at the Enoteca Regionale del Barolo


An enoteca regionale is the equivalent of regional wine shop/repository that stocks many wines from a particular region, and you have a wonderful opportunity to taste a lot of what that particular region has to offer. Rather than spending several hours each visiting particular vineyards and doing tastings at say 4 properties in one day, we decided to start our day at the enoteca regionale of Barolo instead. Apparently, there is an Italian saying that basically says the best time to taste wine is after breakfast and before lunch. Or I would say, around 10-10:30 am. :) Actually, it has to do with the freshness of one’s palate so the earlier in the day the better…


One of the reasons we hired a car/driver was to free us to taste as much wine that day as we could handle… The entice was located in a beautiful space and the various wines from around the region were displayed for all to see.


It’s interesting that NO OVERT RECOMMENDATIONS are made by staff at the enoteca, instead they want you to taste and decide for yourselves which wines appeal to you.


When we arrived, we were the only visitors at the enoteca, though it got busier just a few minutes later. On one wall were a line of say 30 bottles from various manufacturers from around the region and you purchased “debit cards” that entitled you to say 8-10 glasses of wine per person. Technically, between Mrs. MM and myself we could have tasted some 16 wines that morning, but I think we stopped at 8-10 or so generous tasting portions (about half a normal serving of wine).


Our guide explained some of the history of the Barolo region, and most importantly that there were three distinct areas of wine production based on the quality of soil, from sandy/sandstone based, clay and a mixture of the two. It’s amazing how different the soil is in such a small area of land, but it had to do with how far the sea used to to come up in this part of Northern Italy so there is a distinct dichotomy between one end of Barolo and the other.


After the briefing, we set out to taste wines from all three regions, following the guides suggestion of starting with wines from the sandy terroir and moving towards the mixed then clay. The latter had the best wines, in our opinion, but we are amateurs when it comes to wine, so who are we to say…


I took photos to record all of the bottles we tried, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered to figure that all out now. Suffice it to say some were unremarkable, but others were both amazing in taste and color… The advantage of tasting so many wines in a short period of time is that you get to compare and contrast them. And if you aren’t disciplined and start spitting your wine into the provided buckets, you can’t possibly last until mid-afternoon without a serious nap. :)


The enoteca posts the price tags of each bottle so when you taste it, you are docked a corresponding amount for the wine. It also helps you decide if there is really a difference in quality/taste/appeal based on the price… and yes, for the most part, the pricier bottles did seem to be the more appealing…


Most of the wines we loved were in the Euro40-50 ($45-55) per bottle range, and I suppose these would be nearly 50-100% more expensive in a wine shop back home or elsewhere in the world. Not the cheap stuff, to say the least. But not outrageously pricey either.


This bottle of “Azelia” Barolo from Luigi Scavino was quite nice, and we would actually have more wine from this vineyard several weeks later, at a special dinner in Makati we attended the other night (more on that later).


Barolo are big bold wines with lots of tannins, and they are often best when aged for quite a while. Enjoy them with game, beefy stews or even steak tartare. Think heavier, winter like meals with a substantial wine… At this point of the morning, I was looking into packing and bringing several bottles of local wine, but the reality of non-existent luggage allowance on domestic puddle-jumpers meant that excess baggage fees would double or triple the cost of each bottle so we decided to just drink and be merry…


…and perhaps the reason so many people were amused by this photo I posted on instagram the very day it was taken, is that wine (too much good wine) must make you look better than usual. Hahahaha.


7 Responses

  1. “The latter had the best wines, in our opinion, but we are amateurs when it comes to wine, so who are we to say…” Reminded me of hubby but on one extreme who said any wine you give him is alcohol, pricey or cheap and would taste the same in his palate.

  2. Probably my favourite varietal grape is nebbiolo. There is a saying that Barolo is the wine of kings and the king of wines. And if that is so, then Barbaresco, another DOCG nebbiolo, is the queen of wines. I find that I almost always prefer Barbarescos over Barolos. And although Barolos tend to be rather more hyped, there is actually much more Barolo made than Barbaresco, as the latter is restricted to an even smaller area. I hope you had the chance to visit Barbaresco, which is a charming and tiny town, where the enoteca regionale is housed in a deconsecrated church (where one appropriately comes to worship at the altar of Barbaresco). It is also home to the outstanding cooperative, the Produttori di Barbaresco. The Produttori’s “entry-level” Barbaresco is invariably an excellent value, and their single-vineyard releases can be truly magical.

    There are other nebbiolo-based wines from the northern part of Piemonte, across the Po from the Langhe, often made in only miniscule quantities and hardly known by most people, but equally worth investigating, or perhaps more so, as these are much more difficult to get your hands on outside the region. Look for wines from Gattinara, Ghemme, Lessona, Bramaterra, Boca, Fara, etc. Like their more famous cousins Barolo and Barbaresco, these generally repay time in a cellar before drinking.

  3. Hello,

    I need to buy Basella rubra – Malabar spinach – fresh or dried fruits.

    Do you sell it or can contact me with a local producer?

    Best regards,

  4. Slawomir, I know malabar spinach as a leafy green, common in Philippine markets. But I have never come across its fruits, fresh or dried. And I don’t sell anything, just write about food, etc.



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