Brunello vs Barolo: The King of Italian Wines

brunello vs barolo

When it comes to Italian wines, there are two names that always come up: Brunello and Barolo.

There are many debates that rage on in the world of wine. Is a Cabernet Sauvignon better than a Merlot? Is a French Malbec more superior than an Argentinian Malbec?

But perhaps one of the most hotly contested arguments is between Brunello and Barolo wines. Both hail from Italy, but which one is the true king of Italian wines?

In this blog post, we will explore the differences and similarities between these two prestigious types of Italian wine. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What is Brunello di Montalcino?

brunello di montalcino vintages

Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine that is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. The Sangiovese grape is indigenous to the Tuscany region of Italy, which is where the Brunello di Montalcino wine is also produced.

  • Normale: Requires 5 years of aging, with minimum 2 year in oak and 4 months in bottle.
  • Riserva: Requires 6 years of aging, with minimum 2 years in oak and 6 months in bottle.

Brunello di Montalcino wines are known for their intense ruby red color, as well as their aromas and flavors of tart cherries, red plums, dried figs, tobacco, oregano, licorice, and leather. These wines have high acidity and medium tannins, which give them a robust body that can age for many years producing some of the best wines in the world.

What is Barolo?

Piedmont Map

Barolo is another red wine that is made from the Nebbiolo grape, which is also indigenous to the Piedmont region of Italy.

Similar to Brunello di Montalcino wines, Barolos must be aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels before being released for sale. However, Barolos must be aged for at least three years before they can be officially classified as a Barolo wine.

Barolo must be aged for at least two (2) years in oak barrels.

  • Barolo DOCG wine requires an additional year of aging in the bottle.
  • For a bottle of Barolo Riserva to be produced, it must spend at least three (3) years aging in oak, and an additional two (2) years maturing in the bottle.

Barolos are known for their deep ruby red color to dark orange color when they age. They have earthy complex aromas and flavors of plums, tar, roses, truffles, cherries, chocolate, leather, coffee, and tobacco. These wines also have high acidity and high tannins but are well-balanced and elegant making them truly special wines.

Brunello vs Barolo: What are the Differences?

Brunello vs Barolo

As we’ve seen, both Barolo and Brunello wines are made from indigenous grapes in Italy, have high acidity, and high tannins. However, there are some key differences that set these two wines apart. 

  • Barolo DOCG is grown in the Piedmont region, while Brunello is from the Tuscany region
  • Barolo wines are made with Nebbiolo grapes, while Brunello wines are made from Sangiovese grapes.
  • Though both are full-bodied wines, Barolo wines tend to have higher tannins.
  • Barolo’s taste profile is notably composed of tar and roses, while Brunello wine flavors may include sour cherries and tobacco.


Which is better Barolo vs Brunello?

Now that we know a little bit more about Barolo and Brunello, which one should you choose?

The answer, as with most wine debates, is that it all comes down to personal preference. However, we can give you a few tips to help you make your decision.

If you are looking for a wine that is sophisticated and elegant, then you should go with a Barolo. If you are looking for a wine that is robust and more fruit forward, then you should go with a Brunello.

It really all comes down to what you are in the mood for. However, I think that both of these wines are amazing in their own right and we guarantee that you will not be disappointed with either one. 

Is Brunello or Barolo more expensive?

Both wines can be expensive. I find that good Barolos can cost between $50 – $100, while good Brunello di Montalcinos can cost between $40 – $100. However, a bottle of either wine can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars each.

One or the other can be more expensive, depending on which vintage and wineries are being compared.

Is Brunello lighter than Barolo?

Barolos are typically more full-bodied than Brunellos, however they are both full-bodied wines. And again it varies depending on different conditions like the winery, vintage, and other elements.

Is Barolo a Super Tuscan?

No, Barolo is not a Super Tuscan.

A Super Tuscan is a wine that is made in the Tuscany region of Italy but does not follow the traditional rules of winemaking in that region. In our opinion, a Super Tuscan may also vie for the title of King of Wine. Just another superior Italian red wine that, when compared to other wines from around the world, can be called the best.


Now that you know a little bit more about Brunello vs Barolo, we hope that you can make a more informed decision when choosing between the two. If not, then just choose whichever one sounds better to you and enjoy! Because you won’t be disappointed with either! 

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