Get to know Nebbiolo
What is it?
Nebbiolo is a red wine grape that produces wines with delicate aromatics and a light colour. The wines are also usually surprisingly full bodied with robust tannins and high acidity. This almost contradictory juxtaposition of aromas and palate weight make Nebbiolo some of the most interesting and sought after wines in the world.
Where is it grown?
Most famously grown in the North Italian region of Piedmont where the famous Barolo wines command the highest prices and Langhe Nebbiolo offers tremendous value. Outside of Italy Nebbiolo has found homes in small pockets in Baja California (Mexico), King Valley (Australia), San Luiz Obispo (California) and San Juan (Argentina) though the vast majority is still grown in Piedmont.
What does it taste like?
Nebbiolo wines are often seen as somewhat of an oxymoron. The hue is often pale and the aromas are delicate while the palate is rich and full bodied. Light floral and summer berry notes dominate the nose while the palate often presents the drinker with savoury notes of leather, spice and firm tannins. The intrigue and complexity that the wine offers makes it a firm favourite with enthusiasts. Interestingly the Nebbiolo from Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, Mexico takes on a saline note due to the regions coastal terroir.
What does it pair with?
As Nebbiolo is delicate aromatically but full on the palate so you’ll want something that stands up to the tannins and acidity but won’t overpower the aromas. Hearty vegetable dishes like mushroom pappardelle or roasted butternut squash work well. As do soft cheeses like brie and chevre. If you are pairing with meat then lighter meats like pork or veal would work well.
The name Nebbiolo comes from the Italian word “nebbia” (think nebula) meaning “cloud” or “fog”. This is likely because the very best Nebbiolo sites are grown at the top of hills, far above the fog below.