Elvio Cogno: The Pinnacle of Barolo Winemaking

Valter Fissore, winemaker and co-owner

For many wine-lovers, a fine meal is simply incomplete without the perfect pairing. There is no better or more historically rich atmosphere to gain (or bolster) this skill than Piedmont: Italy’s second-largest region, home of the coveted thin-skinned Nebbiolo grape and a prime locale for your next wine-centric location. These wineries’ legendary operations have garnered abundant praise from around the world, and as a result, Barolo has earned its place at the top of professional and amateur favorite lists alike. In short: this is one wine to travel abroad for.

According to Italy’s stringent DOCG regulations for national products, Barolo must be aged for a minimum of two years in oak and one in-bottle. For the even more exclusive Riserva, regulations mandate five years of aging with three in oak. As a result of these requirements, you can rely on these exacting standards to produce robust, pleasing flavors in Barolo — floral notes, earthy spice and smooth leather.

Getting to Barolo-tasting territory is too easy to pass up: Milan’s Malpensa airport is nearly at the border of Piedmont, about halfway between the capital city and Turin. A rental car will make short work of the trip, and once you’re in, the possibilities are endless. There are 11 villages in which Barolo is produced, where you can also sample the freshest examples of other famed regional products like white truffles, agnolotti stuffed with sheep’s cheese, tajarin pasta (similar to tagliatelle) and beef tartare — carne cruda — made from the notable local “razza bovine Piemontese.” In fact, you might be hard-pressed to find a better pairing in flavor and color for carne cruda than a glass of clear, ruby-hued Barolo. The region is home to many notable white wines as well, but let’s face it: you traveled here for the red.

One winery making Barolo that’s not to missed is Elvio Cogno, one of the region’s most historic producers. The Cogno family has been making wine in Piedmont for four generations, well-known and consistently well received by critics both in Europe and the United States. Elvio Cogno brings elegant wines to the market without altering the traditions, styles and flavors of their predecessors, a creed that has served the brand admirably and allowed it to remain a cherished family heirloom to this day.

“There are really two kinds of Barolo: young and old,” says Charles Ford, General Manager for S.K.Y. Chicago. “Young Barolo does so well with earthier and hearty foods, of course pasta comes to mind. On the flip side, pairing Barolo with bright, green, and sometimes fruitier dishes also works. You have to match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. Throw all of the veggies and fruits you want at younger Barolo, just make sure there’s a component of the pairing that stands up to it. Old Barolo is such a ringer for velvety sauces and all kinds of textures. Don’t forget to experiment though, you never know until you try it.”

When at last you arrive home, ideally with several bottles in tow and a case or two on the way, it’s easy to incorporate Barolo — a notoriously food-friendly wine —  into everyday cooking and drinking. Use it as a braising liquid for a simple, hearty meal or splash it into pasta sauce or pan juices for an instant kick of rich, nuanced flavor. And don’t forget to pour yourself a glass, too!

Alexandra Schrecengost, May 24, 2018
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May 24, 2018

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