The Nebbiolo grape has been making appearances in history books since the 13th century. Native to Piemonte in northwest Italy, it is best known as the star of the red wines of the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco. In surrounding areas like Ghemme and Gattinara it is known as Spanna, and the region of Valtellina calls it Chiavennasca. It is believed that its name comes from the Italian word for fog, or “nebbia”, in reference to the foggy hills of the Piemontese vineyards.
In Barolo, the wines must age for at least 38 months, of which 18 must be in oak barrels, according to production laws (for the Riserva it is a total of five years). Cascina Bongiovanni produces its Barolo from grapes sourced from 30-year-old family vineyard, aged for two years in French oak barrels and bottled without filtration. The Marcarini family sources its Nebbiolo from the Brunate “cru”, one of the most regarded grape growing areas inside Barolo, and also ages for two years in oak while following traditional methods of vinification like keeping low yields during harvest and applying long maceration with the skins.
In the region of Barbaresco, wine must be aged for a minimum of two years, of which at least nine months must be in barrel. The wines tend to be structured but softer than Barolo. Poderi Colla produces wine from the Roncaglie vineyards, one of the most prestigious growing areas in Barbaresco. Aged for 12 months in French oak, this Barbaresco is full of aromas sweet spices and violets.
Light in color but powerful in structure, Nebbiolo
can produce wines full of flavors of cherries, rose, leather and anise, with
the ability to age for decades. Open a bottle with a fatty cut of beef or
roasted duck and enjoy the taste of Piemonte in a glass.
Author: Maytte Rivera