If you haven’t heard of it already, the Piedmont region in northern Italy is known for producing some of Italy’s finest wines, including Barbera. But in the small towns of Barolo and Barbaresco something quite unique is produced – and today it’s fetching Burgundy and Bordeaux-like prices. So move over Tuscany and even France, because the picturesque Italian region is home to a spectacular variety – Nebbiolo (neb-e-oh-low). It’s the moody, dark skinned, early flowering, and late ripening beauty that has a reputation for being one of the most exacting varieties for winemakers to master (on par with Pinot Noir).
Nebbiolo originates from the Italian word ‘nebbia’ which in English means ‘fog’ – and to clarify, this particular fog is not the self-inflicted sort resulting from red wine overindulgence, or the milky film that forms over the berries as they reach maturity. In true Italian form the real meaning is much more romantic. It is a veil of fog that not only creates diurnal conditions, but seems to bless each vintage as it descends. Or more simply it was described by The Australian as “the fog that swirls around the Piedmontese hills at harvest time.”
The famous fog has been heavily attributed to the regional success of Nebbiolo, but in truth it is just one element of the unique terroir required to make Barolo-esque quality wines. Winefolly break it down well when defining Barolo and Barbaresco, and essentially it comes down to differences in soil types and Barolo’s diurnal shift. Meaning Barolo wines have become known as the stronger of the two in aromatics, flavour and tannins, lending itself to very lengthy cellaring times of 10+ years.
A quality Nebbiolo can express wonderful aromatics, such as dark cherry, red plums, rose petals, violets, wood smoke and forest floor, and the palate will often boast bold cherry and red fruit flavours, fresh acidity and strong, lengthy tannins. And it has earned such descriptions as “alluring, mysterious and thrilling with a lithe style and an essential elegance…” as in Adelaide’s InDaily.
And just like many popular Italian varietals, the New World is having a crack at doing it justice, away from its 14th Century home. When Jancis Robinson eloquently described Piedmont as, “This comfortable north-western corner of Italy, where life can seem to evolve around a table laden with good things and where on a clear day the snow-covered Alps provide a constant backdrop…” it becomes very easy to see the similarities with not only the location, but also the ethos behind our own estate grown Table of Plenty Nebbiolo 2016.
Plus, just as Piedmont has their Alps with cool temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and the nearby Tanaro River, Gundagai has the Snowy Mountains, cool temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and the nearby Murrumbidgee. You see what we’re getting at? And the best part is, even though our terroir may be on par with what the fruit needs to shine, our Australian examples don’t require the lengthy cellaring to become your new favourite with braised beef, Spanish tapas or even a Truffles and Porcini dish. Which means you get to fall in love with Nebbiolo before the Italians can say, “Ciao!”