Barolo Chinato

 

 

Barolo Chinato is a traditional spiced wine made from Barolo, somewhat like a red Vermouth. In general such wines are known in Italian as a Vino Aromatizzato and are used as digestives. Barolo Chinato is distinguished in part by the fact that the wine used must be real Barolo, that is 100% Nebbiolo certified as DOCG Barolo. Sometimes very high quality Barolo is used. For example, the current Barolo Chinato from traditional producer Roagna is made with their La Rocca e la Pira Barolo Riserva 2001, a great wine on its own.

The name chinato (pronounced KEY-not-toe) comes from a critical ingredient, the bark of the cinchona calisaya tree from South America. Cinchona is called china (pronounced KEY-nah) in Italian, hence chinato for the drink. This bark is also sometimes called china bark in English and is the source of quinine. Other sources of bitters include gentian root (used in the soft drink Moxie), rhubarb root, wormwood (used in absinthe), and ginseng. Ingredients often used to flavor Chinato include cinnamon, coriander, cardamom seed, clove, ginger, orange rind, juniper, iris flowers, mint, vanilla, and bay leaf. It usually also contains cane sugar. All these ingredients are steeped in grain alcohol or in grappa made from Barolo. So technically these are fortified wines, but should still have an alcohol level at the low end of the fortified range (i.e. 16-18%).

History

It is widely accepted that Barolo Chinato was invented by Dr. Giuseppe Cappellano in the late 19th Century. Giuseppe was the second son of the founder of the Cappellano Winery. He became a pharmacist in Turin where he developed many medicines including Barolo Chinato. For more on this history of this winery, see the historical notes at the bottom of the Fine Wine Geek's Cappellano Barolo & Barbaresco page.

The Giulio Cocchi Spumanti Winery in Asti claims to have invented Barolo Chinato but I am not aware of anyone else who supports this claim.

Here is some background from Levi Dalton.

Some Particularly Notable Producers

The Fine Wine Geek has individual Chinato pages for the following producers:

Other Producers

Barale's Barolo Chinato (from the Castellero vineyard):

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Serio & Battista Borgogno's
Barolo Chinato:

Boroli's
Barolo Chinato:

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Gancia's Antica Ricetta
Barolo Chinato:

Marcarini's
Barolo Chinato:

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All original content © Ken Vastola