Nebbiolo



I saw it the other day.  It was a cool, crisp New England morning and I was out for an early AM bike ride before work.  On my favorite local road I saw it, that layer of lazy, slightly creepy fog that was creeping from the edge of the woods of a tiny hollow and spilling into the adjacent farm field.  It's one of my favorite things, that fog; the cool, not uncomfortably cold weight of heavy morning air...it reminded me of my time spent in late Fall in southern Tuscany and Burgundy many years ago.  I saw the same fog, and it was the time when I first discovered nebbiolo.

I have a perhaps strange but also potentially legitimate personal theory that there are exactly 5 months a year when drinking nebbiolo (and syrah for that matter, but that's another email entirely) is ideal.  It's the shoulder season, the in-betweener time, not quite full on winter, but certainly not summer...it's right now.  I'd say from early October until mid-December and then again from April through mid-June is when I enjoy Nebbiolo the most.  Maybe it's because there is some morning fog, maybe the wine likes variable barometric pressure...maybe I'm just crazy...but maybe you should give it a try.

Now,  A LOT can be said about the nobile nebbiolo grape.  In fact, I'll leave that to the real wine writers and other 'wine pro's'.  Frankly, I just think this grape is constantly intriguing.  So many styles, such potential for greatness, yet a grape I spend very little time actually drinking.  Well, it's my season.  It's nebbiolo season. 

Tonight, a lineup of all nebbiolo.  From the high altitude Alpine versions of the Valtellina to the quirky Valle d'Aosta to the classic Langhe foothills...tonight we see nebbiolo from some of the greatest producers in Italy all on a perfect Fall evening.  Join us.  Oh, and the party doesn't stop, be sure to join us next Tuesday for a special visit from Scapra...taste old nebbiolo at it's finest!

Nebbiolo Season, Day 1:

Dirupi, 'Ole`!', Valtellina Classico, Lombardia $27
The Valtellina is one of those wine regions even most Italians don't know exists.  On high on northern frontier of Italy, sandwiched between Switzerland and the northern lakes is an amazing piece of terroir.  Soaring terraced vineyards carved out of Alpine primary rock with nebbiolo clinging to the rock walls.  It's an extreme environment and makes for some extremely good nebbiolo.  Dirupi is a tiny upstart winery founded just under a decade ago by to friends from enology school.  Today they are one of the few natural producers in the region and this is their classic cuvee.

Cave Co-op du Donnas, 'White Label', Valle d'Aosta $26
You might be scratching your head and wondering why this wine has a French name while it sits in Italy.  Well, again, this is the borderland and even more so then elsewhere in Italy here in the high mountain pass under Mont Blanc the French influence spills over.  The local dialect is a Swiss-Franco-Italian mountain language that only the locals can understand.  Here we have one of the best quality co-op's in Italy.  In the tiny village of Donnas just north of Carema.  Another example of the brisk, ethereal style of nebbiolo from the northern most corner of Italy.

Burlotto, Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont $25
We love Burlotto.  They are one of those producers who have gone unnoticed in the US market for a long time yet, especially on the wave of 2010's coming from Piedmont, the Burlotto secret is out. While this makes it harder for us to get the wines we are happy that more people will discover this truly stalwart traditional cantina. As a Barolo producer their wines are old-school yet forgiving and not over-made.  This is a great introduction to this producer and just about as good as nebbiolo gets at this price range.

GD Vajra, Nebbiolo d'Alba, Piedmont $28
The Vajra family have been making some our most beloved Piedmont wines for much longer then we've even existed.  Yet it is the current generation, Giuseppe Vajra, that is the one who has stamped his authority on his family estate and has made our favorite wines.  These guys aren't small, but they aren't huge either.  They made classic wines and this is no different...a perennial fan favorite.  

Roagna, Langhe Rosso, Piedmont $35
Luca Roagna is our hero.  Plain and simple he's one of the greats.  Though he is a mere 30-something winemaker Luca has 5 generations of old-guys with no teeth to keep him in line.  Luca's vineyards are some of the most savage in all of Barbaresco...high grass, weeds and very old massale selection vines in some of the most prestigious cru's of Barbaresco and Barolo give him the best material.  But it's what he does (or rather doesn't do) in the winery that makes the wines special. Fermentations without yeast or sulfur, long but not too long maceration on the skins, aging in old barrels and bottle age before release...all without added sulfur.  Don't be fooled by the simple 'Langhe Rosso' appellation here, this is 30-40 year old vines from both his Barbaresco and Barolo sites that aren't quite up to snuff to put into his top wines yet.  That said, this wine is likely better then 90% of the things calling themselves "Barolo" and "Barbaresco" out there.

Produttori di Barbaresco, Barbaresco, Barbaresco $45
Last fall we did a blow out tasting with all the amazing cru wines of this legendary cooperative.  It was eye-opening and wonderful.  We go to know he Produttori wines even better then ever and our love of them deepened.  The 2010 vintage in Piedmont, specifically Barolo and Barbaresco will catch your attention.  Glossy magazines will be writing about it and wines will get a lot of actually well deserved hype.  I like the 2010 vintage in Piedmont, a lot.  I think it combines my favorite elements of a classic vintage with the 'readiness' of an annomolyous vintage.  Not too powerful, not too lean...just right.  This is a benchmark producer in am amazing vintage. Take your chance now to stock up while we offer the tasting discount, oh and get a few of the magnums we have while your at it.  You won't regret it.  


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