If you’ve ever had Barolo or Barbaresco, you’ve had nebbiolo. The godfather of Italian reds, this grape not only packs a real punch but ages with great style and gravitas.
Nebbiolo is specific to the northern region of Piedmont and in particular the neighbouring regions of Barolo and Barbaresco near Turin.
Nebbiolo is thought to derive its name from the Italian word nebbia which means “fog.” During harvest, which generally takes place late in October, a deep, intense fog sets into the Langhe region where many Nebbiolo vineyards are located. Barbaresco was brought to international fame by Antonio Gaja, who raised standards but also introduced very high prices.
Barolo is commonly described as smelling of ‘tar and roses’ with its blend of violets and savoury notes. Famed for being hard and unapproachable, in recent times winemakers have learnt how to make it juicier and softer.
Nebbiolo has hardly travelled outside its region. However there is interesting and promising small production in Australia and South Africa.
Colour: red; from dark ruby to inky
Body: full bodied
Tastes include: black plums, with a distinct savoury character of tobacco and leather, with firm acid and tannin, medium bodied rather than full-bodied
AKA: often confused with Barolo and Barbaresco which are wines made from the Nebbiolo grape
Often blended with: Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon
Spotter’s guide: Italy, specifically Piedmont. Also small quantities in South Africa, Australia
Keep or drink? While some Barbarescos are approachable young, most Nebbiolos usually benefit from 2-3 years ageing and may be good for 10 years or more after that. Their firm and acid and tannin means they are built for the long term
Price range: £7.99-£40