Wine shop keeper comparing two bottles of Barolo wine of different quality and price
Wine Guide

What is the right price for Barolo?

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.

Vineyards around Castle of Grinzane Cavour in Barolo DOCG

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 their own vineyard, in front of vines of Nebbiolo grape in Piedmont, Italy

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.

Fabrizio continues:

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.

Vineyards in LA Morra village in Barolo DOCG area in Piedmont, Italy

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?

Price of Barolo wine in the UK, in 2020

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.

Price of Barolo wine in the UK, £20-75 per bottle, in 2020

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 wineVintageVillage/cruPrice per bottle
Roberto Voerzio, Barolo, del Comune di La Morra2016La Morra£77.50
Il Poeta Barolo2016Novello£27.00
Barolo Araldica2016Cooperative£17.99
Barolo Contea di Castiglione2016Cooperative£17.70
Pira Luigi Serralunga Barolo2016Serralunga d’Alba£31.00
Barolo Ciabot Berton2015La Morra£30.00
Barolo La Morra Corino Giovanni di Corino Giuliano2016La Morra£37.80
Monchiero Barolo ‘Rocche di Castiglione’2016Castiglione Falletto£30.00
Barolo “Castiglione” DOCG2016Castiglione Falletto£44.00
BAROLO FALLETTO BRUNO GIACOSA2016Serralunga d’Alba£180.51
Barolo DOCG Monfalletto Cordero Di Montezemolo2016La Morra£41.11
Barolo “Falletto” DOCG2016Serralunga d’Alba£206.00
Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Vigna Croera Barolo DOCG2004Serralunga d’Alba£170.00
Barolo Serralunga D Alba, Winery Fontanafredda2015Serralunga d’Alba£40.29
Massolino Barolo2015Serralunga d’Alba£52.50
Barolo di Serralunga d’Alba DOCG Fontanafredda2014Serralunga d’Alba£39.50
Parusso, Barolo2016Monforte d’Alba£39.00
Fenocchio, Barolo Villero2015Monforte d’Alba£40.00
Barolo DOCG Domenico Clerico2015Monforte d’Alba£40.52
Terre del Barolo DOCG2015Castiglione Falletto£19.99
Barolo DOCG Terre da Vino2015Barolo£18.99
Massolino Parussi Barolo Red Wine2015Serralunga d’Alba£90.00
Terra da Vino Barolo Riserva DOCG2010Barolo£24.99
Vietti – Castiglione Barolo2015Castiglione Falletto£36.95
Domenico Clerico : Barolo2016Monforte d’Alba£40.00
BAROLO CASTIGLIONE VIETTI2015Castiglione Falletto£49.15
Cordero di Montezemolo : Monfalletto1971La Morra£260.00
Cordero di Montezemolo : Monfalletto1979La Morra£220.00
Barolo Monfalletto2014La Morra£50.00
Antinori – Prunotto : Barolo2010Monforte d’Alba£48.33
Antinori – Prunotto : Barolo2014Monforte d’Alba£38.33
Antinori – Prunotto : Barolo2015Monforte d’Alba£41.67
Barolo Manfredi2015Not clear£24.00
Michele Reverdito Castagni Barolo2014La Morra£25.95
Barolo DOCG, Mario Giribaldi2014Novello£24.99
Barolo Ravera2012Novello£57.00
Benevelli Piero Ravera Barolo DOCG2011Novello£53.00
Elvio Cogno Ravera Barolo DOCG2010Novello£70.00
Cascina Fontana Castiglione Falletto Barolo2015Castiglione Falletto£57.13
G.D. Vajra Barolo Ravera2015Barolo£56.95
AZELIA BAROLO2015Castiglione Falletto£32.90
Luciano Sandrone – Sandrone Barolo Aleste2015Barolo£104.34
Vietti Barolo Castiglione2015Castiglione Falletto£44.00
Michele Chiarlo Tortoniano Barolo2015La Morra£39.60
Veglio Angelo Barolo DOCG2015La Morra£18.20
G.d. Vajra Barolo Bricco Delle Viole2015Barolo£66.06
Massolino Barolo2015Serralunga d’Alba£37.30
Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis2015Castiglione Falletto£56.02
Cascina Fontana Barolo2015Castiglione Falletto£45.08
Antinori Prunotto Vigna Colonnello Barolo Bussia Riserva DOCG2011Monforte d’Alba£145.10
Antinori Prunotto Barolo Bussia DOCG2014Monforte d’Alba£71.40
Antinori Prunotto Barolo DOCG2015Monforte d’Alba£36.75
G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe2016Barolo£36.05
Michele Chiarlo Cerequio Barolo DOCG2012La Morra£67.40
Cascina Adelaide Barolo 4 Vigne2012La Morra£35.00
Araldica Barolo Flori 6 Bottle Case2015Cooperative£16.28
Barolo La Morra Corino Giovanni di Corino Giuliano2015La Morra£37.80
Barolo Fontanafredda2015Serralunga d’Alba£33.45
Barolo Vigna La Rosa Fontanafredda2013Serralunga d’Alba£71.30
Barolo Via Nuova E Pira2014Barolo£55.65
Barolo Sori Ginestra Conterno Fantino2014Monforte d’Alba£67.70
Marcarini Barolo del Comune di La Morra2016La Morra£30.50
Roberto Voerzio Barolo La Serra2011La Morra£200.07
Monchiero Barolo ‘Roere di Santa Maria’2014La Morra£26.00
M. Marengo Barolo Bricco Delle Viole Docg2015La Morra£47.59
BAROLO PERNO ELIO SANDRI2014Monforte d’Alba£59.00
Cappellano1967Serralunga d’Alba£329.00
Barolo D.o.c.g. Fontanazza – Giacomo Marengo2003La Morra£60.00
Barolo Docg Ascheri2016Serralunga d’Alba£26.40
Franco Fiorina1967£249.00
L. Bertolo – Riserva Speciale1967£149.00
Gaja Barolo Conteisa Docg2013Cerequio£238.13
Paolo Scavino Barolo Rocche Dell’Annunziata Riserva Docg2013La Morra£227.65
Barolo Dagromis Doc – Gaja2013La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba£90.28
Barone Stabilini1979£99.00
Gigi Rosso – Trecomuni2013Castiglione Falletto£36.95
Barolo Unoperuno – Elio Altare Viticoltore2015La Morra£331.95
Barolo Prapo – Ceretto2015Serralunga d’Alba£150.39
Barolo – Winery Ceretto2015Serralunga d’Alba£87.10
Barolo Serralunga DOCG by Ettore Germano2015Serralunga d’Alba£41.95
Barolo Serralunga D’Alba Giovanni Rosso2015Serralunga d’Alba£48.00
2013 Tenuta Cucco Barolo Serralunga D’Alba Docg2013Serralunga d’Alba£41.87
Ettore Germano Barolo Serralunga2015Serralunga d’Alba£39.95

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