Stephen Brook gives a personal view of the charms and complexities of Piedmont’s terroirs and wines, both traditional and more modern in style...

Top Barolo & Barbaresco producers

During 30 years of visiting the Barolo area, I’ve witnessed the shift from old-school wines to more modern styles.

My early headquarters was a hotel in Monforte – essentially a bar with rooms – and in the morning I’d grab an espresso and find the likes of Domenico Clerico doing the same. He and others were then the young guns of Barolo, and today they’re the elder statesmen.

Even after three decades I feel I’m just scratching the surface here: there are too many crus and producers to get to know. If you think Burgundy is complicated, try mastering the hills and slopes of Barolo. In compiling this list of producers, I don’t pretend they are necessarily the top wineries.

Instead, this is a blend of outstanding producers and personal favourites. Call it a sentimental list if you wish, but sentiment and friendship play their part in fashioning our palates.

Wine is more than a glass on a tasting bench. In any event you won’t find any mediocre wines emanating from the cellars cited on the pages that follow.

I don’t have a stylistic bias, and believe the distinction between traditional and modernist is increasingly artificial. So Elio Altare and Angelo Gaja can be cited alongside Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Rinaldi, even though they represent opposing schools stylistically.

Indeed many top producers, such as Scavino, raid both schools to fashion their own wines in a harmonious but individual style.

Nor am I fiercely opposed to the use of new oak, so long as it’s not the wine’s dominant component. In any case, ludicrously overoaked wines are becoming scarce. What I seek in a fine Barolo or Barbaresco is finesse, which is notoriously difficult to achieve with a grape variety exuding acidity, tannin and alcohol.

GD Vajra

Producer profile: GD Vajra

Producer profile: GD Vajra We blinked at each other across the table, trying to converse through a fog of his…