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Meet the New Matriarchs of Barolo: Piera and Paola Rinaldi

Meet the New Matriarchs of Barolo: Piera and Paola Rinaldi

There is always something deeply personal and special about having the opportunity to taste with a winemaker. Tasting wines with someone who has bled, sweat, and cried over their vines never gets old. 

We try to share these special events with you as often as possible. And just last Friday we had a great one! Many of our friends and neighbors joined us to taste with Paola Rinaldi, the winemaker at Barolo’s Francesco Rinaldi e Figli. It was magical. 

Paola was charming, passionate and an unbelievably knowledgeable guide to these amazing wines. We wanted to make sure to highlight some of the most interesting things we learned from Paola for those of you who weren’t able to be here and chat with Paola in person. And hopefully next time she’s in town, you’ll be able to join us in person. 

Francesco Rinaldi e Figli is one of Barolo’s great traditionalist domaines. Founded in the town of Barolo itself way back in 1870 when Francesco Rinaldi inherited a vineyard and house. 90-year old Luciano Rinaldi took over in 1941 and only recently gave the winery to his nieces, Paola & Piera Rinaldi.

Paola floats above what seemed to us the significant pressure to live up to the family history. She is simply doing what she loves, and is confident that she and her sister can make that love and passion come through in the glass. She will continue her family’s legacy simply by carrying on with their passion. 

They’ve been getting ready for this moment their whole lives. Piera and Paola are the 4th generation of Rinaldi winemakers. They were raised to truly adore this work. Paola specifically mentioned that in Piedmont it is traditional to show great respect for what the head of household builds for future generations. So, having just taken over the estate from their uncle, these two matriarchs are focussed on building Rinaldi’s future. With so much to do, it’s easier to focus on the generations to come, rather than wallow in any presumed pressure from the previous generations. Piera and Paolo are grateful to continue making wine in the gorgeous (and covetted) Barolo hillsides. 

While she was visiting us, even with very few Italian speakers at our disposal, Paola’s passion lit up the room and shined through the whole event. At one point, we got her to wax poetic about barolo pairings. Favorite of the Rinaldi family? Barolo with braised meat and truffles! Another go-to is truffle risotto. Basically, truffles and barolo are BIG in the Rinaldi house. We can only hope to make it a staple, ourselves, this year! 

I’ll include the tasting notes below. The line up of Paola’s wines were drinking wonderfully. And, luckily, we still have quite a bit of stock. 

If you’re wondering how to properly serve her wines, wonder no more! We asked about decanting since it often seems to be a hot button issue among barolo lovers. Paola is firmly in the camp that it’s always better to open a Barolo a few hours before drinking, even young ones. It softens the tannins and brings out the fruit. 

The details vary from wine to wine. Her Brunante, for instance, is more accessible and therefore it is possible to drink this wine right away. Her Cannubi, on the other hand, is a bit more closed off and tannic upon first opening. She said, it’s better to decant the wine and give it time to open up. Like this, a tannic monster smooths out into an elegant and perfumed gem.

We will have more winemaker tastings very soon. You should subscribe to our event calendar to stay up to date! Also, the very best way to get the story behind our favorite wines is by subscribing to our Newsletter. We loved getting to share Paola’s wines and stories with her last week. You don’t want to miss out on these special tasting events! Until then, you can taste Paola’s wines at home--maybe with truffle risotto or braised lamb--and let your mind wander to the Rinaldi estate, in the hills of Barolo. 

Francesco Rinaldi, Gavi, 2017

This white is serious and structured. Bright green apple measured with chamomile and melon rind starts us off. It’s then met with an incredible, savory mineral quality through the finish. The silky texture works to  balance out the bright acidity. 

Francesco Rinaldi, Barbera d’Alba, 2015

The nose is perfumed with crushed forest berries. There’s an aha moment when the tart black cherry broadens to reveal fresh cut tobacco and a darkly mineral backbone. It’s as elegant as it is juicy. 

Francesco Rinaldi, Dolcetto Roussot, 2018

Cherry liquor and graphite on the nose give way to a very restrained sense of fruit on the palate. There are crunchy rocks which are balanced by crushed white and purple flowers and subtle red cherry brightness. The structure is held by elegant, lithe tannins.  

Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo DOCG, 2015

Unmistakably Barolo from first sniff. It smells of pure cherry skin and soft pink rose. This wine finely threads the needle between power and elegance. There is regal dark fruit and a crisp black minerality. The tannins are underscored by snappy minerality which produces a long, lacey finish.