Nebbiolo! To some, it's more than just a grape: it's a way of life. These people are referred to as Nebb-Heads:
Nebb-Head /nɛb-hɛd/ noun one who is completely obsessed with Nebbiolo.
example: I can't believe Jane is missing out on her daughter's graduation, but I shouldn't be surprised that she's chosen to go to a Barolo tasting instead because she's such a Nebb-Head.
Anyway, Nebbiolo is a grape variety from the Piedmont (Piemonte in Italian) region in North-Western Italy. It's a late ripening grape, and is thought to get its name from the Italian word Nebbia, which means fog - since it tends to ripen in late October when fog settles into the valleys where Nebbiolo is heavily planted (but there's a few other possible explanations too!).
Nebbiolo produces lightly coloured red wines that can also be highly tannic and is the grape variety used in the famous and amazing Barolo and Barbaresco wines. These are some of the mostly highly sought after of all Italian wines. A delve into the history of Barolo is fascinating and sometimes hotly debated, although some modern research suggests that a winemaking manual published in 1835 by Paolo Francesco Staglieno, Istruzione intorno al miglior metodo di fare e conservare i vini in Piemonte, was the beginning of the dry (not sweet) winemaking style that led to the early Barolo wines. Oh, then there's the 'Barolo Wars' of the 1970s and 80s. The history is almost as interesting as opening a bottle. Almost...
Architects of Wine is a label started by winemaker and former architect, David Caporaletti. He releases multiple Nebbiolos from different sub-regions of the Adelaide Hills most years, so I thought I'd ask Dave a few questions about Nebbiolo and why he loves it so much:
You seem to have a bit of a thing for Nebbiolo, so how did you first get interested in this grape variety?
I think the real obsession with Nebbiolo started on a trip to Piemonte many years ago on my honeymoon. We visited heaps of wineries, talked to lots of people and drank Barolo and Barbarseco literally every day for weeks. We drank some amazing wines and it really cemented our love for the variety. It's just ticks all the boxes for me.
What is it that you love the most about Nebbiolo?
What's not to love! Nebbiolo has just about everything... aromatics, fruit, savouriness, structure, acid, tannin and everything in between. It shows terroir exceptionally well, and when all the stars align and it's in perfect balance, the wines are phenomenal. The best ones also age so gracefully and still look so fresh and vibrant 10+ years on.
How do you feel about the Adelaide Hills as a region for growing and producing Nebbiolo and other Italian varieties?
I think that the Adelaide Hills, in the right locations, is an exceptional place to grow Nebbiolo and many other Italian varieties. We lack the heavy clay rich soils like you'd find in Barolo so our Nebbiolo grown here is much lighter on its feet much like the Nebb that you see from say Valtelina or Alte Langhe. Other Italian varieties are hitting their strides when grown in the hills too so I think there is a bright future ahead.
What have you been enjoying drinking recently?
Lots of Sparkling, Whites and Rosé over the summer period... in amongst all the Peroni Red at vintage time. Traversa Brio Sparkling Nebbiolo, Champagne, Chablis... Just waiting for the cooler weather to set in so we can get back to Nebbiolo!
What music have you been listening to recently?
I usually have Triple J on the go at the winery but anything goes really.
Alright, well, let's have a look at a couple of the Nebbiolos we have available at the moment:
Architects of Wine 2020 'Normale' Nebbiolo (Macclesfield, Adelaide Hills) has really delicious savoury and light spice characteristics with cherry and red fruit. It's a bold yet smooth expression of Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo with a fresh acidity and some nice tannin structure. From the same year and same sub-region (great for having fun comparing!) comes the next wine:
Hills Collide 2020 Nebbiolo (Macclesfield, Adelaide Hills) is a brand new small batch release. It's got really great negroni, orange and bitters with a little pleasant earthyness and some red fruit undertones. Lovely stuff and very limited!
Traversa 'Il Ciabiot' 2018 Nebbiolo (Piedmont, Italy) is from a winery founded by Giacomo Traversa in 1834! It's lightly floral with raspberry, cherry and red fruits and with a couple of years on it now. A beauty of an Italian Nebbiolo from the grape's ancestral homeland. Fun to compare with one (or both ;) of the Australian expressions above!..... and in saying that, we've put together something special for you:
The Nebb-Heads Nebbiolo Madness Pack. Buy all three of these wines together to save $10!
Well, it's been fun putting a little spotlight on Nebbiolo this week. If you're not a Nebb-Head yet... who knows: Maybe that siren call will entrance you around the very next corner. Catchya next time, Juiceheads x