It’s funny how the rhythms of the internets work: this week, as I was doing research for a post intended to debunk the often repeated and wholly erroneous Oudart myth, whereby a Frenchman invented modern Barolo, my Italian counterpart Alessandro Morichetti was hard at work on a post in which he offers three fundamental reasons behind the success of Barolo and Barbaresco (in Italian).
I wish I had time to translate Alessandro’s post in its entirety.
I don’t, unfortunately, because it’s one of Ale’s most inspired pieces on the popular Intravino wine blog. But his three main points are as follow…
Unified Italy’s first prime minister Count Camillo Cavour (1810-1861), he writes, was a pillar of historic Italian liberalism and progressivism, not to mention one of the first grape growers in Italy’s modern era to recognize the immense potential of Nebbiolo.
Cavour’s Grinzane estate in the Barolo appellation is still an icon and a cultural epicenter for the wine and for the UNESCO-designated Langhe Hills (where Barolo and Barbaresco are grown and produced).
The Royal School of Enology in Alba, which was founded by King Umberto I (1844-1900), was one of Italy’s first academies for professional grape growers and winemakers and it has forged and shaped generations of Piedmontese wine professionals.
There’s a unique camaraderie and “self-awareness” in the Piedmontese winemaking community, notes Alessandro. They are owed in part to the fact that the school is something that nearly everyone there has in common.
Lastly, he writes, the Ferrero chocolate dynasty brought extreme prosperity to the region and that helped to create the infrastructure and economy needed to build a world-class wine industry.
Michele Ferrero, who died last year at age 89, also inspired a generation of Langa entrepreneurs.
When you ask most outsiders what Langa is famous for, they will say Alba truffles, Nebbiolo, and then possibly, as an afterthought, chocolate (read: Nutella).
But “signor Michele,” as he was known to locals, was Italy’s wealthiest man. Did you know that he invented Tic Tacs? Who knew?
One person that you will not find mentioned in Alessandro’s piece is Louis Oudart, the French grape broker who many erroneously believe was the “inventor” of modern Barolo.
In fact, he wasn’t.
Today, I posted a note on Oudart and recent research that indicates that he wasn’t the person behind Barolo’s modern era .
And so I’m sorry to break the news: it wasn’t a Frenchman who made it Barolo and Barbaresco great. It was the Langhetti themselves.
Thanks for reading…