is considered one of the great wine varieties, bigger,
more acidic and tannic, sometimes even bitter, than most types, but consequently
long-lived and prized by collectors. Jealously guarded in
its native Italian home and most famous appellation of Piedmont,
very few nebbiolo cuttings and clones have been exported to
name nebbiolo has two probable origins. Ripe nebbiolo grapes
have a very prominent "bloom" that gives them a
"foggy" or "frosted" look, so the name
could come from from "nebbia", Italian for "fog".
It is an alternative possibility that the name simply comes
from "nobile", Italian for "noble". Nebbiolo
also goes by the names Spanna, Picutener and Chiavennasca
in various Italian districts.
since the 14th Century in Valtellina, an east-west valley
in the Lombardy region at the foot of the Alps, north of Lake
Como, this is the only region where nebbiolo is grown in Italy
outside Piedmont. Although there are dozens of nebbiolo clones
and nebbiolo is prominent in and famous for producing wines
like Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara, the reality is that
this variety makes barely 3% of all the wines produced in
Piedmont. There are twice as many acres planted with Dolcetto
and ten times as many planted with Barbera.
of the reason for this, in spite of its reputation, is that
nebbiolo is one of the more problematic grapes for both vineyardists
and winemakers. It is very sensitive to both soil and geography
and can yield wines that vary widely in body, color, tannin and acidity,
as well as aroma and flavor complexity, when grown in only
slightly different locales. A very late-season ripener, the
vines need the best exposures, especially in cooler climates,
in order to reach maturity. It performs much better in calcareous
rather than sandy soils. Nebbiolo grape skins are thin, but
quite tough and fairly resistant to molds and pests.
winemakers feel that nebbiolo is even more difficult to work
with than pinot noir. It can be changeable, moody and unpredictable
while undergoing typical cellar and aging procedures.
wherever vintners aspire to producing wine inspired by Barolo,
nebbiolo is also grown, including Australia, California, New
Zealand, South America and South Africa. Argentina has the
largest acreage planted, but no region outside Italy has yet
shown much potential for high quality wine production from
Nebbiolo Smell and/or Flavor
depends upon individual tasting ability and experience
and is also affected by terroir and seasonal conditions,
as well as viticultural and enological techniques.
This list therefore is
merely suggestive and neither comprehensive nor exclusive.
Floral: rose, violet
oak, smoke, toast, tar, vanilla
leather, cedar, cigar box
Mouth feel / Texture:
|heavy, rich, tannic, chewy, alcoholic
made from nebbiolo are typically tart, tannic and
alcoholic. The classic romanticized description of Barolo is "tar and roses"; the best may also smell of cherries, violets and black
licorice or truffles and have rich, chewy, deep and long-lasting
flavors. Good Nebbiolo can harmonize with the richest, strongest-flavored
meats and stews, as well as dry, aged cheeses that may be
too strong or distinctive for other wines.
Convention on the Nebbiolo Grape