Barolo Boys – The Story of a Revolution
Barolo Boys is a documentary film telling the story of the Langhe region, the North Western region of Italy, and its famous “Boys”.
I had a great opportunity to watch in in Premiere during a special screening.
A great movie for wine enthusiasts to introduce people to the Barolo wines, history of a major part of Piedmonte and its winemaking.
A film by Paolo Casalis and Tiziano Gaia
64′ / ITA / ENG
Produced by Stuffilm Creativeye
The Story of a Revolution tells the fascinating story of Barolo wine and how it exploded as a world phenomenon.
Now one of the most famous red wines in the world, 30 years ago Barolo was unknown even in its own production region, the beautiful Langhe (just nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site), in northwestern Italy.
Barolo’s current success is mainly due to the courage and initiative of a group of small-scale wine producers, the so-called Barolo Boys.
In the optimistic Eighties, these winemakers upset the quiet world of the Piedmontese countryside and brought about a revolution in Italian wine, igniting a fierce controversy between different generations and different ways of thinking.
After almost 30 years, what is left of that experience? As one of the film’s characters asks, what revolution has ever been successful?
Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution traces the short but intense trajectory of a group of producers who indelibly changed the world of wine.
For the first time Joe Bastianich, as narrator voice, is telling the story of a group of wine producers led by Elio Altare (including one girl), which in the 90’s set the agenda for the development of the modern Barolo. Among the people who appears and takes part in the film is Carlo Petrini, Oscar Farinetti, Joe Bastianich, Elio Altare, Chiara Boschis, Marc de Grazia, Giorgio Rivetti, Roberto Voerzio, Lorenzo Accomasso, Silvia Altare, Beppe Caviola, Alessandro and Bruno Ceretto, Giampiero Cereda, Giancarlo Gariglio, David Berry Green, Bartolo Mascarello, Marta and Beppe Rinaldi, Davide Rosso and Maggiore Vacchetto.
A movie where producers unveil themselves, becoming through the years much wiser and experienced, quoting so many good life lessons, but sometimes becoming as stubborn as their ancestors they were so critic about. Confined in their wellness zone.
Through the story of the Barolo Boys, a group of winemakers quite unknown in the 80s, were dreaming of change and shifted the way of producing Barolo wines. And with hard times, convictions brought Barolo wine to an undisputed star level in the 90s. They brought enormous changes to the Langhe. some define it as the Langhe “miracle”.
Between magnificent new shootage and videos archives. Like a time machine.
Many questions to be reflected in the movie from various view points, between history and respect.
Was that a revolution, a philosophy or a passing trend? Modernists Vs Traditionalists? And many more…
The Barolo Boys are doing a portrait of themselves but also their ancestors and Italian people. Because you realize, same as today in the Italian wine world they are all divided, each consortium working separately very few producers walk hand in hand. Thinking just because they make wine they will sell it. But today it does not work like that, so many people make good wine, in different range and quality. But what really makes your wines better than the ones from your neighbor? Yes you need to do proper marketing, find a niche, create your market and collaborate with the right people who can help you thrive and communicate for you efficiently, and you need to be willing to invest for it.
Elio Altare: “I think all revolutions started on empty bellies”.
Following the path of Elio Altare in 1983, describing the wines of the ancestors as tannic and harsh, that needed to wait 25 to 50 years before being drinkable. The poor living conditions and his father’s reluctance change things in the wine production. He remembers clearly when he took a chainsaw down into the cellar and destroyed large wine barrels. His father threw him Elio Altare out his home and taught he was crazy. Where he just came back in 1985 at his father’s death. Elio Altare was back from Burgundy for inspiration and experience. There he learned the importance of thinning the number of grape bunches and use small French barriques for storing wine in.
He still remembers when Barolo wines where not famous, not even known by the world, when Langhe wines where just consumed locally. Many questions were running around, “Why isn’t people drinking Barolo?” because it did not bring pleasure he says.
In 1969, people were still working with animals in the vineyards, he quotes “there was no tractions at that time, we were selling Barolo for 1500 lire / 0,7L so about 1$ a bottle, it was a frustration”
Memories of the past, not often the most shiny ones.
“ When a great wine was produced it meant that nature had had better sense than the winemaker”.
Silvia Altare, one of the two Elio’s daughter, remembers and describe the winery in its past, “gasoline, chicken shit and wine making in the same area, that is why maybe it wasn’t so successful”.
Beppe Rinaldi remembers time when the wines were sold unbottled, except for Barolo. Quoting “I’m the fifth generation, a rot let’s say”. And qualify again the local people and producers state of mind, “ the local people never had a cooperative spirit, Langhetto sticks to his culture and history”.
Alessandro Bruno Ceretto, who was part of the beginning of the Barolo boys, portrays the Langhe people as difficult and gamblers, people who likes challenges. He says they love the risk.
Giampiero Cereda remembers a time when barrels were hidden with card boards from the ancients in the back of the winery, the eldest people just wanted old wood for their wines.
This “youth revolution” took hard work and time to settle, two months after the methanol scandal in 1986 shocked the wine world as a powerful hailstorm destroyed the best vineyards around Barolo and a tested industry was on its knees.
People was then at that time working as a team, to revamp and give rebirth to the Langhe, Barolo and its wines. They were trying different barrels, blends, they were experimenting, wanting to leave behind the poverty.
But with the incomprehension of the old people, Maggiore Vacchetto, an old vineyard worker says “I’m sorry to see these grapes on the ground, however they are in charge”
Giorgio Rivetti says “ We met as a group of friend every week”.
Chiara Boschis quotes “ There was this absurdity, that thinning out should be hidden from the others”.
Una bella escuerda.
Then in the 90’s, that they went to conquer the US like rock stars. It took much enthusiasm and courage. With Marco di Grazia, an American who grew up in Florence, Italian wine broker extraordinaire, has turned some of Italy’s finest winemakers into cult stars. He was part of the Barolo Boys adventure, and says “if you stay home, you could be the best winemaker in the world and nobody will know”.
Especially the American wine journalists became enthusiastic about the “modern” Barolo, which was much more concentrated in both color and taste than the traditional Barolo, more clean, more modern. Barolo became in terms of taste a fruit bomb with soft tannins.
They were like the “rebel boys”, the success that the young Barolo Boys achieved was not without a price. Although they overcame the crisis, the price has been high for many of them. Confronted to their families eldest and has a misunderstanding. Enhancing the Innovators VS Traditionalists, Rebelious VS Patriots…
In 10 years more money came into the Langhe than in the whole previous century.
Economics mattered more and more so from low price, in the 90’s with 3 bicchieri you could doubled the price of your wine, it changed the economics of a winery.
Then 2000’s, came Parker and the 100 points awarding a few 100 point perfect scoring to some Piedmonte wines, maybe it went to far ?
Today, individual nature prevailed and so everyone tried to make their own path. Each got their own interpretations of Barolo identity. They all worked in their side. Time matters and maybe they became a bit what they were afraid, a bit like their ancestors maybe. This is beginning of pressure
They are facing past, just as the “big traditionalists” overshadowed them, now they are overshadowing the young winemakers. Receiving some critics because they behave as their ancestors were.
So many things run around – A life lesson like movie, a bit of a roller coaster. A great journey, filled of confessions and reflexions.
“All generations have this incredible “will” when instead you have to go back to the origin of things. “
“Tradition is a successful innovation.”
“Being conceited about your own generation is a mistake.”
“You have to go slowly to change the world.”
“Without the talented Barolo Boys, the Langhe would have been just screwing around.”
“It seems a bit rash to claim that the history of Barolo was written by the modernists.”
“I believe that in life easy things are boring.”
“Great wines are always good not only after 20 years, as you get married and you want & will enjoy the marriage, you don’t have to wait 30 years.”
“In my opinion modern Barolo doesn’t exist.”
“The crucial element is the evolution of taste.”
Were they visionaries?
To know and discover more you can order at http://www.baroloboysthemovie.com/index.html#compra