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In our travels around Italy, we come across many fascinating things, both in the vineyards and cellars of diligent producers we wholeheartedly admire, as well as historic and occasionally slightly eclectic collections of individuals who can trace a long love affair with the story of Italian wine. So in the midst of a series of emails dedicated to the notable cellar of wine critic Luigi Veronelli, we've decided to also release some of the quirkier acquisitions, notably Barolo Chinato.
Barolo Chinato is an aromatised wine with with a long history of production in Piedmont. Said to have originated at the hands of Giuseppe Cappellano, a pharmacist by trade, in the late 19th century, it quickly grew in popularity as an after-dinner drink, with many other Barolo producers starting to create their own recipes. A bittersweet affair, the drink takes its name from quinine, the compound extracted from bark of the Cinchona calisaya tree (and other sub-species), which is the principle ingredient that links all these wines together. Quinine has been used as a bittering agent for European liqueurs and tonics (including tonic water) for centuries, and among its many medicinal uses, it's historically been an effective cure for malaria. From there, each producer varies slightly, with many of the recipes being closely guarded family secrets, though all being a wonderful combination of bitter, spicy, and savory herbs and other ingredients, softened with a touch of sugar. Perfect as an accompaniment to dark chocolate, or simply to "settle the stomach" after a big meal.
We've collected some historic bottlings from long-lived and heralded Barolo estates. While it is difficult to exactly date these bottles, most of them were made in the 1960s and 1970s, though a few are more recent. We've tried to estimate as best as possible where we could, based on tax stamps and label design. Oskar Kostecki
Cappellano started using this label around 1980; the former owner says they would have purchased this bottle before 1985.