The high roller – Barola! The Nebbiola grape uncovered.
Italy’s Piemonte is the largest region in Italy and regarded by many as the home of gastronomy. Some wine names that you may recognise are Barolo, Barbaresco and Asti Spumante, but there is far more to the Piemonte than just these three.
Let’s start with Barolo and the slightly lesser known Barbaresco. Both wines are made with the Nebbiolo grape, its name deriving from the word nebbia meaning fog as it is the last of the major grapes to ripen and often the autumn fogs have descended on the vineyards before the harvest has been gathered.
Nebbiolo is a grape that doesn’t have as much pigment in the skin and so wines can appear light and even have a brown tinge. But beware, these can be huge wines, packed with flavour and with some serious tannins that will help them sustain in bottle for a couple of decades or even more in great vintages.
Both Barolo and Barbaresco come from the Langhe hills close to the town of Alba, Italy’s white truffle capital. For Barolo there a a handful of villages that can produce the wine. The wines of Barolo itself and also La Morra (the largest area) make wines with a certain elegance that can make for younger drinking. The villages of Monforte, Serralunga and Castiglione Falletto give wines of more structure that need a little more time in the cellar.
Although Barbaresco is made from the same grape, the vineyards benefit from the influence of the river Tanaro, and the wines are easier to approach in youth with a real elegance about them. They still last in bottle though!
Not all Nebbiolo gets labelled as Barolo or Barbaresco and some growers will often use the younger vines to make a more simple Nebbiolo for young drinking. These can offer great value and in fact, I would rather be drinking a simple Nebbiolo from a good grower than a Barolo that isn’t hitting the mark.
Why not try some of Carlo's favourites from our Wine List:
Barolo “Roggeri” – Ciabot Berton, 2009
Barbaresco “Bric Balin” – Moccagatta, 2009
Carlo Iulianella - Operations Director