Barolo and Barbaresco are the most well-known grapes of the Piedmont region. But they are all made of the same grape, Nebbiolo.
What is a Nebbiolo then? Well, to confuse matters even more, Nebbiolo is both a wine and a type of grape. It is grown in bits and bobs all around the world, including a few estates in South Africa. But it’s a finicky grape to grow successfully, as any grower in the area will attest to. The only place it truly thrives is in Piedmont, it’s ancestral home.
A Nebbiolo is a wine made from Nebbiolo grapes that have been grown in the geographical area of Piedmont. They are usually designated a sub-region, such as Langhe (which produces the aptly named Langhe Nebbiolo) and the Alba region with produces Nebbiolo D’Alba.
Within this geographical area of Piedmont are two specific areas, Barolo and Barbaresco. Wines made from Nebbiolo grown and produced in this area are allowed to carry the designation of Barolo (or Barbaresco, if from there).
So there you have it – Barolo is a Nebbiolo but a Nebbiolo isn’t always a Barolo (or Barbaresco). What is key is the geographical area the wine was made in.