Updated: Jan 16, 2021
Happy Wine Wednesday; and THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the poll to help me decide which wine to feature tonight. I'll try to hold on to the American sparking wine long enough feature it next week, though bubbly really doesn't last long in this household so...no promises!
So for the 60% of you who voted in favor of this tannic treat...is is because you've never tried it? Perhaps you have tried it but want to learn more about it? Maybe you chose it because you've learned lots about it already and it's ranked somewhere highly on your list. Either way, pour yourself a glass because I'm about to give you down-low on Nebbio-lo.
Nebbiolo is a popular Italian red wine grape native to the Piedmont region and used to make some of the most sought-after (and expensive) wines like Barolo and Barbaresco (both of which are 100% Nebbiolo and named after the regions in which they're grown.) Thought to be named after the Italian word nebia (or fog in English) it may take its name from the fog that settles over the vineyard each October when the grapes are harvested.
A secondary explanation could be the fog-like veil that enwraps the berries as they mature, and yet a third possibility is that the grape actually takes its name from the Italian word nobile, meaning noble. Whatever the namesake, Nebbiolo produces light colored red wines (or wines that fade quickly, if you want to get technical about it). But don't let that fool you. This feisty fruit packs a real punch. It can be highly tannic, often requiring years of aging and warm climates to develop the sugars and fruit flavors needed to properly balance the bouquet.
So what does this robust wine grape taste like? Great question; it depends on several factors including the climate during grow season, the age of the wine, and where it's planted. Nebbiolo is considered a "terroir expressive" varietal, meaning it takes on notes from the soil and earth it grows in. Plus, it is highly affected by weather. The most highly rated bottles come from vintages with a dry September and October. All factors set aside, Nebbiolo is often associated with notes of tar, clay, rose, leather, licorice, and red fruit like cherry, strawberry, and raspberry.
Interestingly enough, California has been playing around with growing Nebbiolo grapes since the 90s, with the first release in the early 2000's. While still in the infancy stages of research and development, with time and trials, it is deemed possible to make some exquisite California wines with this fussy little fruit.
Want to pair Nebbiolo with food? No problem! Try it with creamy, cheesy heavy dishes with high fat to counter-act the powerful tannins (mac n' cheese, anyone?!) Savory Chinese dishes work wonderfully, too.
For this edition of WOTW, I sampled a Langhe Nebbiolo, which is one of many subsets for specific grape varietals and styles with the Langhe DOC. It's easily described as a "junior" version of Barolo and Barbaresco. Produced by Cantine Lanzavecchia in Piemonte, Italy, this delicious red was a bit closed off in the glass at first sniff, but brought out a nice robust palate of ripe cherry, strawberry, wet clay, black licorice, and leather on the long-lasting finish. At a price of $12 from Total Wine, I'd say this little number is worth getting your hands on.
To watch me sample, check out my WOTW highlight reel on Instagram - @thecandidcork. Click here to subscribe to my email list so you know when new blogs and giveaways come around!
Cheers, Corkers and thanks for tuning in! I appreciate you and this "little" wine corner community more than you know.