Region: Italy – Piedmont.
Grape Variety: 100% Nebbiolo
Tasting Notes: Ripe. Layered. Attractive. Fresh. Balanced.
Is an Italian red wine grape variety predominantly associated with its native Piedmont region, where it makes the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines of Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Gattinara, Carema and Ghemme. Nebbiolo is thought to derive its name from the Italian nebbia or Piedmontese nebia, meaning “fog“. During harvest, which generally takes place late in October, a deep, intense fog sets into the Langhe region where many Nebbiolo vineyards are located. Alternative explanations refers to the fog-like glaucous veil that forms over the berries as they reach maturity, or that perhaps the name is derived instead from the Italian word nobile, meaning noble. Nebbiolo produces lightly-colored red wines which can be highly tannic in youth with scents of tar and roses. As they age, the wines take on a characteristic brick-orange hue at the rim of the glass and mature to reveal other aromas and flavors such as violets, tar, wild herbs, cherries, truffles, tobacco, and prunes. Nebbiolo wines can require years of aging to balance the tannins with other characteristics.
Nebbiolo does not adapt particularly well to various vineyard soil types, preferring soils with high concentration of calcareous marl such as those found on the right bank of the Tanaro river around Alba where Barolo and Barbaresco are produced. The grape can thrive in sandy soils, such as those on the left bank of the Tanaro around the Roero district but the wines from this soil type tend not to be as perfumed – lacking in particular the classic tar aromas. The slightly acidic pH of the sandy Roero soils tend to produce early maturing wines. The lighter wines of Ghemme and Gattinara come from the acidic porphyry soils of the hills between Novara and Vercelli. In the lower Aosta Valley, the soil has a high concentration of granite while the soils of the Valtellina region of Lombardy are predominantly schist based. In addition to soil type, the drainage ability and concentration of magnesium and potassium can have an influencing effect on the type of Nebbiolo wine is produced.
Once named Enotria for its abundant vineyards, Italy (thanks to the ancient Greeks and Romans) has had an enormous impact on the wine world. From the shores of Italy, the Romans brought grapes and their winemaking techniques to North Africa, Spain and Portugal, Germany, France, the Danube Valley, the Middle East and even England. Modern Italy, which didn’t actually exist as a country until the 1870s, once produced mainly simple, everyday wine. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Italy began the change toward quality. The 1980s showed incredible efforts and a lot of experimentation. The 1990s marked the real jump in consistent quality, including excellence in many Region that had been indistinct for ages. The entire Italian peninsula is seeing a winemaking revolution and is now one of the most exciting wine Region in the world.
Piedmont is in the Northwestern region of Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. Piedmont is predominantly a plain where the water flows from the Swiss and French Alps to form the headwaters of the Po river. The major wine producing areas are in the southern portion of the region in the hills known as the “Langhe”. Here the people speak a dialect that is 1/3 French and 2/3 Italian that portrays their historical roots. Their cuisine is one of the most creative and interesting in Italy. Nebbiolo is the King grape here, producing Barolo and Barbaresco. In addition, the Barbera and Dolcetto are the workhorse grapes that produce the largest quantity of wine. Piedmont is predominantly a red wine producing area. There are a few whites made in Piedmont, and the Moscato grape produces a large volume of sweet, semi-sweet and sparkling wines as well.