What is the right price for Barolo? With bottles costing anywhere from £16 to £260 and over, it’s a really broad range. If you’re not a wine expert, it can be hard to know whether you’re getting great value for money, or are paying over the odds. Having a ballpark figure in mind when shopping for your Barolo wine makes it easier – as does understanding the reasons behind the price tag.
We’ve analysed prices of over a hundred vintages from various suppliers selling their stock in the UK to find out what’s reasonable. In this article we’ll discuss what you should expect to pay for different quality Barolo wines – and what you’re likely to get for your money.
Whichever way you look at it, you’re going to struggle to find a bottle for a tenner. This iconic red wine is often considered to be one of Italy’s best. Its fans love it for its deep and exceptionally complex flavours of black fruits, dried rose, liquorice and spice. Because of its rich character, Barolo is typically bought for Christmas or Easter dinner, or as a gift – it’s not exactly an everyday tipple. Our “Essential Guide to Barolo Wine” goes into more depth about what makes it so special, but in this article we’re going to talk about the factors influencing price.
The three tiers of Barolo
The price of Barolo is very much based on the quality of the wine, which is influenced by how the grapes are grown and how the wine is produced. In general, there are three tiers of Barolo. From cheapest to most expensive, they are:
- High-volume “supermarket Barolo” produced by farmer cooperatives – £16-20
- Solid quality, small-volume Barolo produced by family vineyards – £30-50
- High-end “connoisseur Barolo” – £75-220
NB – all prices are set by other retailers and are only an indication
So, what defines the wine’s quality, and – as a consequence – tells us what’s the right price for Barolo?
What defines the quality of Barolo?
The most important factor in winemaking is, all other things being equal, the quality of the grapes – to make good wine you need good grapes. Unripe or damaged grapes will not produce good wine. As such, the biggest consideration is the ripeness and the quality of the grapes at harvest, which is mostly determined by the location of the vineyard.
Fabrizio Francone in his vineyard with Nebbiolo vines
Fabrizio Francone, fourth-generation winemaker and producer of award-winning Barolo wine, says:
The quality of great Barolo is born in the vineyards – we can’t add quality in the cellar. With winemaking and ageing we try to preserve the characteristics given by the terroir. We have to work really hard to preserve the full quality of the grape.
Barolo is made from pure Nebbiolo – a small, thick-skinned black grape which has a complex and delicious flavour but is very hard to grow. It buds in April, and takes a long time to ripen, which is why it’s harvested in the second half of October; just before the winter cold arrives in the Alps. Because these grapes need maximum sunlight to ripen fully, the best vineyards are located on hills facing South, South-West or South-East, in the middle of the slope. It’s fairly safe to say that excellent Barolo can only be made by winemakers who grow, or can get hold of, grapes from such locations.
Nebbiolo is one of the best grapes because produces incredibly sophisticated and complex wine. But it is also one of the most difficult grapes to grow in the vineyard and vinify: it only flourishes on particular soils and weather conditions, and will give its best only in a few small districts.
The rules of Barolo limit the harvest to just 8,000 kg of grapes per hectare. Although this figure seems small, boutique wineries that focus on quality often use far less than this. They carefully sort their grapes by hand to remove damaged or unripe berries. As you can imagine, this manual quality control makes production volumes quite small and drives the cost up.
On the other hand, wineries that produce big volume wines – like cooperatives Araldica Vini Piemontesi and Terre del Barolo – can’t afford to be fussy about picking every grape. As they produce large volumes of wine for supermarkets, they’re happy to accept grapes of differing quality.
How much should Barolo cost?
So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. You know the type of quality you’re looking for, so what is the right price you should expect to pay for a bottle of Barolo?
Supermarket Barolo: £16-20 per bottle
CBI Market Intelligence reported that supermarkets were responsible for 80% of wine sales in the UK. That said, their research focuses on cheap wine, costing less than £5 a bottle on average. It should come as no surprise that Tesco and Lidl are not the places to look for high-quality Barolo from a family-run vineyard.
There are a few massive cooperatives that produce large volumes of cheap Barolo to satisfy the bottomless appetites of our national supermarket chains. Cooperatives buy up large volumes of grapes produced in various estates across Barolo DOCG. One example of a cooperative is Terre del Barolo from Castglione Falletto. Another is Araldica Vini Piemontesi – responsible for an astonishing 900 hectares under vine.
While supermarket Barolo technically complies with the strict DOCG rules, its quality is not always what you would expect. This can be seen in the customer reviews on Waitrose’s website, which really are a mixed bag: “Remarkable wine at this price, absolute steal. 2004 was magical.”, or “This Barolo has no nose, no legs and is thin and acidic – not at all what you expect from a Barolo, certainly not at £19.99 a bottle. Never again.”
Tesco’s Finest Barolo (£16.75) shows a similar picture, with reviews ranging from “Very low quality. Thin and acidic. Avoid.” to “The Finest Barolo is a decent attempt at echoing bigger label bottles without replicating the price tag.”
Solid quality Barolo from family vineyards: £30-75 per bottle
The wine in this category is typically produced by small scale, family-run vineyards – each with its own unique traditions and heritage. Usually Barolo from this category will be packed with the legendary flavour, aromas and rich depth that this fabulous wine is known for.
There’s a £55 price difference between the cheapest and most expensive wines in this category, so what influences it? To some extent, it comes down to village and vintage. Typically, wine made from grapes grown in the “cru” villages will command higher prices – those are La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga and the village of Barolo itself. That said, it’s possible to find exceptional wineries in other villages as well. The year that the grapes were grown – or the vintage – has an impact too. As a pro-tip, 2015 and 2016 are considered to be the best in the last decade (we discuss this in more detail in the “Guide“).
Some great examples of family vineyard Barolo include 2016 Pira Luigi Barolo from Serralunga for £31 per bottle, and 2015 Ciabot Berton Barolo for £30. Diego Conterno from Monforte d’Alba currently retails for £50.22, while Mauro Molino Barolo Bricco Luciani sells for £40.22.
Barolo Albe 2016, from G.D. Vajra, from the village of Barolo, sells for £61.40. Another wine worth trying is the 2015 vintage from Antinori – Prunotto for £41.67. The price for Barolo Sori Ginestra Conterno Fantino 2014 will climb to £67.70, and be prepared to part with £71.30 for a bottle of Barolo Vigna La Rosa Fontanafredda 2013.
In the end, the price is driven by the brand name, the winemaking style, and the ambition of both the winery and the retailer. It is quite possible to find fine quality Barolo from a credible origin, for a reasonable price.
Connoisseur’s Barolo: £75 – £250 per bottle
While Barolo is considered to be one of the best wines at any level, connoisseurs are more likely to seek out top tier examples with subtle nuances in taste. Following the law of diminishing returns, beyond a certain level even a tiny improvement in flavour requires incredible winemaking precision. That’s why some Barolos sell for astronomical prices – which will nevertheless be the right price for those wine lovers who appreciate the esoteric nuances of the wine.
You can get a bottle of Barolo La Serra by Roberto Voerzio, 2011 vintage, for £200.07 per bottle. Bruno Giacosa was a legendary winemaker in Serralunga d’Alba, and you can sample his 2015 Barolo “FALLETTO” for £184, or his exceptional 2016 vintage for £206.
Barolo that has been properly aged in the bottle, and has consequently developed complex tertiary aromas, can command an even higher price. Expect to pay upwards of £260 for a bottle of Cordero di Montezemolo from La Morra made in 1971, and £220 for the 1979 vintage.
The verdict? Barolo from family-run wineries is the best value for money
Most casual drinkers don’t have hundreds to spend on a connoisseur Barolo, and the experience of supermarket Barolo is unlikely to meet expectations. If you really want to get your money’s worth, it’s best to focus on the middle category – small-volume Barolo carefully crafted at family-run wineries. This category offers the right level of quality for the right price.
Independent Wine is proud to work with two such family winemakers in Piedmont:
Francone Barolo (the 2015 vintage for £36.50, and the 2016 vintage for £34.90) is produced by Fabrizio Francone, a fourth-generation winemaker working at his family winery. Made from grapes grown in the “cru” areas of La Morra and Monforte d’Alba, this wine won the Decanter Silver Medal in 2019.
Barolo Castelletto, 2015 vintage (£42.79) from Monforte d’Alba. The winery belongs to the famous Gussalli Beretta family, and Piero Ballario is their chief winemaker. This Barolo was awarded a Mundus Vini Gold Medal, Golden Medal at Japan Awards 2019, and a 91/100 rank by James Suckling.
Table 1. Prices of Barolo DOCG wine sold in the UK, 2020
(prices can be changed by respective sellers)
|Barolo DOCG wine||Vintage||Village/cru||Price per bottle|
|Roberto Voerzio, Barolo, del Comune di La Morra||2016||La Morra||£77.50|
|Il Poeta Barolo||2016||Novello||£27.00|
|Barolo Contea di Castiglione||2016||Cooperative||£17.70|
|Pira Luigi Serralunga Barolo||2016||Serralunga d’Alba||£31.00|
|Barolo Ciabot Berton||2015||La Morra||£30.00|
|CIABOT BERTON BAROLO ROCCHETTEVINO||2012||La Morra||£36.75|
|Barolo La Morra Corino Giovanni di Corino Giuliano||2016||La Morra||£37.80|
|BAROLO LA MORRA, CRISSANTE||2016||La Morra||£35.00|
|Monchiero Barolo ‘Rocche di Castiglione’||2016||Castiglione Falletto||£30.00|
|MANTOETTO BAROLO FRACASSI||2015||Cherasco||£40.00|
|Barolo “Castiglione” DOCG||2016||Castiglione Falletto||£44.00|
|BAROLO FALLETTO BRUNO GIACOSA||2016||Serralunga d’Alba||£180.51|
|Barolo DOCG Monfalletto Cordero Di Montezemolo||2016||La Morra||£41.11|
|Barolo “Falletto” DOCG||2016||Serralunga d’Alba||£206.00|
|BAROLO FALLETTO VIGNA LE ROCCHE BRUNO GIACOSA||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£184.09|
|Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Vigna Croera Barolo DOCG||2004||Serralunga d’Alba||£170.00|
|Barolo Serralunga D Alba, Winery Fontanafredda||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£40.29|
|Massolino Barolo||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£52.50|
|Barolo di Serralunga d’Alba DOCG Fontanafredda||2014||Serralunga d’Alba||£39.50|
|Parusso, Barolo||2016||Monforte d’Alba||£39.00|
|Fenocchio, Barolo Villero||2015||Monforte d’Alba||£40.00|
|Barolo DOCG Domenico Clerico||2015||Monforte d’Alba||£40.52|
|Terre del Barolo DOCG||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£19.99|
|Barolo DOCG Terre da Vino||2015||Barolo||£18.99|
|Massolino Parussi Barolo Red Wine||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£90.00|
|Terra da Vino Barolo Riserva DOCG||2010||Barolo||£24.99|
|Vietti – Castiglione Barolo||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£36.95|
|Domenico Clerico : Barolo||2016||Monforte d’Alba||£40.00|
|BAROLO CASTIGLIONE VIETTI||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£49.15|
|Cordero di Montezemolo : Monfalletto||1971||La Morra||£260.00|
|Cordero di Montezemolo : Monfalletto||1979||La Morra||£220.00|
|Barolo Monfalletto||2014||La Morra||£50.00|
|Antinori – Prunotto : Barolo||2010||Monforte d’Alba||£48.33|
|Antinori – Prunotto : Barolo||2014||Monforte d’Alba||£38.33|
|Antinori – Prunotto : Barolo||2015||Monforte d’Alba||£41.67|
|Barolo Manfredi||2015||Not clear||£24.00|
|Michele Reverdito Castagni Barolo||2014||La Morra||£25.95|
|Barolo DOCG, Mario Giribaldi||2014||Novello||£24.99|
|Benevelli Piero Ravera Barolo DOCG||2011||Novello||£53.00|
|Elvio Cogno Ravera Barolo DOCG||2010||Novello||£70.00|
|Cascina Fontana Castiglione Falletto Barolo||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£57.13|
|G.D. Vajra Barolo Ravera||2015||Barolo||£56.95|
|AZELIA BAROLO||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£32.90|
|Luciano Sandrone – Sandrone Barolo Aleste||2015||Barolo||£104.34|
|Vietti Barolo Castiglione||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£44.00|
|Michele Chiarlo Tortoniano Barolo||2015||La Morra||£39.60|
|Veglio Angelo Barolo DOCG||2015||La Morra||£18.20|
|G.d. Vajra Barolo Bricco Delle Viole||2015||Barolo||£66.06|
|Massolino Barolo||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£37.30|
|Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£56.02|
|Cascina Fontana Barolo||2015||Castiglione Falletto||£45.08|
|Antinori Prunotto Vigna Colonnello Barolo Bussia Riserva DOCG||2011||Monforte d’Alba||£145.10|
|Antinori Prunotto Barolo Bussia DOCG||2014||Monforte d’Alba||£71.40|
|Antinori Prunotto Barolo DOCG||2015||Monforte d’Alba||£36.75|
|G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe||2016||Barolo||£36.05|
|Michele Chiarlo Cerequio Barolo DOCG||2012||La Morra||£67.40|
|Cascina Adelaide Barolo 4 Vigne||2012||La Morra||£35.00|
|Araldica Barolo Flori 6 Bottle Case||2015||Cooperative||£16.28|
|BAROLO LA MORRA, CRISSANTE||2016||La Morra||£35.00|
|Barolo La Morra Corino Giovanni di Corino Giuliano||2015||La Morra||£37.80|
|Barolo Fontanafredda||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£33.45|
|Barolo Vigna La Rosa Fontanafredda||2013||Serralunga d’Alba||£71.30|
|Barolo Via Nuova E Pira||2014||Barolo||£55.65|
|Barolo Sori Ginestra Conterno Fantino||2014||Monforte d’Alba||£67.70|
|Marcarini Barolo del Comune di La Morra||2016||La Morra||£30.50|
|Roberto Voerzio Barolo La Serra||2011||La Morra||£200.07|
|Monchiero Barolo ‘Roere di Santa Maria’||2014||La Morra||£26.00|
|BAROLO RONCAGLIE DOCG ERALDO VIBERTI||2011||La Morra||£53.00|
|M. Marengo Barolo Bricco Delle Viole Docg||2015||La Morra||£47.59|
|BAROLO PERNO ELIO SANDRI||2014||Monforte d’Alba||£59.00|
|BAROLO DI SERRALUNGA FERNANDO PRINCIPIANO||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£30.00|
|Barolo D.o.c.g. Fontanazza – Giacomo Marengo||2003||La Morra||£60.00|
|AURELIO SETTIMO BAROLO ROCCHE DELL’ANNUNZIATA||2015||La Morra||£38.50|
|Barolo Docg Ascheri||2016||Serralunga d’Alba||£26.40|
|L. Bertolo – Riserva Speciale||1967||£149.00|
|Gaja Barolo Conteisa Docg||2013||Cerequio||£238.13|
|Paolo Scavino Barolo Rocche Dell’Annunziata Riserva Docg||2013||La Morra||£227.65|
|Barolo Dagromis Doc – Gaja||2013||La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba||£90.28|
|Gigi Rosso – Trecomuni||2013||Castiglione Falletto||£36.95|
|Barolo Unoperuno – Elio Altare Viticoltore||2015||La Morra||£331.95|
|Barolo Prapo – Ceretto||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£150.39|
|Barolo – Winery Ceretto||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£87.10|
|Barolo Serralunga DOCG by Ettore Germano||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£41.95|
|Barolo Serralunga D’Alba Giovanni Rosso||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£48.00|
|2013 Tenuta Cucco Barolo Serralunga D’Alba Docg||2013||Serralunga d’Alba||£41.87|
|Ettore Germano Barolo Serralunga||2015||Serralunga d’Alba||£39.95|