Book Excerpt: Barolo, MGA Vol. II, The Birth of an Appellation
BY ALESSANDRO MASNAGHETTI | FEBRUARY 27, 2018
Many have written about the origins of Barolo as a wine,
attempting to fix with greater and greater precision, both the date of its
birth and that of the principal protagonists of the event, from Marquise
Falletti to Count Cavour all the way to French oenologist Oudart.
Few, instead, have concerned themselves, and almost never in
and, accordingly, as a group of rules and regulations which govern its
production, limiting themselves often to a more or less significant listing of
the principal dates and events. What was sufficient, nonetheless, to create a
substantial divergence between the two inquests: if, in the first case, in
fact, the reconstruction has vague and uncertain features, in the second the
documentation still available today allows us to trace with a certain precision
the course of events both in terms of timing and of development and to
demonstrate, without any uncertainty, potential obscure points.
This series of images
depicts the original boundaries of the Barolo zone, along with the extensions
that have taken place over the years.
Within this evolving course of events, what has always been
particularly urgent and timely has been the theme of the delimitation of the
area of production, which is, effectively, the cornerstone of each and every
appellation and the clearest expression of the desire to control and regulate
which is its basis. Apropos of this: more than the local patriotism and the
often pointed disputes, well described by Renato Ratti in his “Della vigna e del vino nell’albese” (“On the Vineyard and Wine in the Alba Area”)
and by Ferdinando Vignolo-Lutati in his essay “Sulla delimitazione delle zone a
vini tipici” (“On the Delimitation of
Zones of Typical Wine”). It struck me as important to write about the
confines and their evolution over time and, above all, to give them a material
form in a series of maps. And as well: even if it might seem strange, there
have only been extremely rare cases in which the delimitation of the Barolo
zone has been accompanied by a precise map accessible to the public (in the
first cases there was simply a listing of the townships within the zone) at
least until 1966 when the DOC of that year became law. A lack which, on one
hand, has already prevented a clear and tangible idea of what, over time, have
been the extensions (and, above all, their dimension), and on the other hand
has created a fertile ground for hearsay and myths which remain to this day and
which we shall put into evidence one by one. To accomplish this, and with the
aim of achieving a reliable – to the extent this is possible – reconstruction
of the facts, I have accordingly based my work on the sole appellations
officially recognized during the 20th century, all furnished with a description
of boundaries which can be checked against current maps and those of the past.
Many – I do not wish to conceal this – surprises have appeared and almost as
The absences and the incongruities between the various
versions which have come forth from time to time make this story not merely
fascinating to reconstruct but also exciting to recount. And, I hope, to read
In this excerpt from his forthcoming book, Barolo MGA Vol.
II, Alessandro Masnaghetti discusses the birth of the Barolo Appellation. A
stunning work of historic significance, Barolo
MGA Vol. II includes never seen before research on harvest dates, the
Barolo 1970 map that compares vineyard areas of present day to those of 1970, a
case study of Vigna Rionda and the first English translation of Ferdinando
Vignolo-Lutati’s groundbreaking 1929 essay On
the Delimitation of Wine Zones and Typical Wines.
Barolo MGA Vol. II;
Vintages, Recent History, Rarities & Much More is available in the
United States through the Rare Wine Co. and through Enogea for readers outside
the United States.
Click the thumbnails below for more detail.