New Rules for Barolo and Barbaresco?

Among the proposals for the DOCGs is the introduction of an obligatory in-region bottling rule and the approval of vineyards on north-facing slopes.

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Barolo vineyards in January 2024. (Photo: Veronika Crecelius)
Barolo vineyards in January 2024. (Photo: Veronika Crecelius)

The Board of Directors of the Consortium for Barolo, Barbaresco, Alba, Langhe, and Dogliani has developed significant updates to the production regulations for Barolo and Barbaresco. The most urgent change concerns limiting bottling to the production area.
 

Bottling regulations

It's hard to believe that top Piedmont wines can still be bottled all over the world. While the bulk wine market for Barbaresco is very small, for Barolo, it accounts for about 30% of production.

This update includes a proposal intended to simplify life and reduce bureaucracy for producers active in both DOCGs, while also being sustainable. Until now, Barolo producers who also produce Barbaresco had to vinify within the DOCG Barbaresco area, even though they could still bottle in the DOCG Barolo area. They either needed to have a second winery there or rent facilities from colleagues, a requirement that also applied to Barbaresco producers making Barolo. Now, it is proposed that Barolo vintners be allowed to vinify and bottle grapes from Barbaresco in their Barolo winery; conversely, Barbaresco producers would not need to use production facilities in Barolo.
 

Planting bans

Furthermore, the Consortium's Board of Directors suggests abolishing the ban on planting on north-facing slopes. Climate change has rendered this rule obsolete, as grapes now ripen on many north-facing slopes as well. The Consortium explicitly states that this would not involve an expansion of the cultivation area. In addition, the introduction of communal mentions for the Barbaresco appellation is proposed, as is already the case for Barolo. The last update concerns bottle sizes. Sizes from 6 liters were previously only allowed for promotional purposes; now, the sale of formats between 6 to a maximum of 18 liters is proposed to be permitted.

The final word, of course, lies with the members of the Consortium. To implement the changes, a simple majority is not enough. At least 66% of the total DOCG vineyard area and 51% of the average bottled production of the last two years must be covered. The vote on the update is conducted in writing and not at a member meeting. VC

Insights

Barolo has neither image nor sales problems. The only issue is that the bulk wine market is still too large and the vineyards are too expensive. Veronika Crecelius reports.

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