What is Nebbiolo?
Nebbiolo is the James Dean of the Italian wine industry – the moody, brooding teenager that turns into a fine, elegant wine if only it is given the chance to grow up.
Nebbiolo is specific to the northern region of Piedmont and in particular the neighbouring regions of Barolo and Barbaresco near Turin. It is named after the local nebbia or fog. Barbaresco was brought to international fame by Antonio Gaja, who raised standards but also introduced very high prices.
Barolo is commonly described as smelling of ‘tar and roses’ with its blend of violets and savoury notes. Famed for being hard and unapproachable, in recent times winemakers have learnt how to make it juicier and softer.
Nebbiolo has hardly travelled outside its region. However there is interesting and promising small production in Australia and South Africa.
Colour: red; from dark ruby to inky
Body: full bodied
Tastes include: black plums, with a distinct savoury character of tobacco and leather, with firm acid and tannin, medium bodied rather than full-bodied
AKA: often confused with Barolo and Barbaresco which are wines made from the Nebbiolo grape
Often blended with: Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon
Spotter’s guide: Italy, specifically Piedmont. Also small quantities in South Africa, Australia
Keep or drink? While some Barbarescos are approachable young, most Nebbiolos usually benefit from 2-3 years ageing and may be good for 10 years or more after that. Their firm and acid and tannin means they are built for the long term
Price range: £7.99-£40