Nebbiolo in focus

King Valley Nebbiolo

 

Are you ready for a romance of Italian proportion?

Nebbiolo, known as Italy’s most revered grape, is often described as vibrant, sensitive and tantalising. It’s finicky about where it grows and it’s notoriously tricky to make, but in the glass you’ll discover a red you won’t forget.

 

Fred Pizzini, Pizzini Wines

Back in the eighties, I discovered this delicate, elegant and powerful variety, which interested me a hell of a lot: how could I create that? And would we be able to do it here?

Everyone talked about Nebbiolo being difficult, but that was part of the challenge. I grafted the first Nebbiolo vines in 1988 and made the first wines in 1991. I was smitten.

A few years ago, I took my wine to the home of Nebbiolo—Stresa, near Milan—to be tasted alongside other Nebbiolos from Australia, South Africa and California. The Italian producers looked at my wine, smelt it, looked at the colour, tasted it, and they just said, “Bravo”.

You can’t get a better compliment than that from these smart producers, with generations of winemaking behind them. It was praise for the King Valley.

Nebbiolo is one of the great wine varieties of the world; it’s the one that could change your life.

 

Warren Proft, Winemaker at Chrismont

Nebbiolo is often compared with Pinot Noir. Both are light-bodied, light in colour and fickle—they both need the perfect site to grow and keep you guessing year after year. But there aren’t any other parallels to draw; they’re two very different wines.

We make two Nebbiolos at Chrismont: one chases the tradition of the well-regarded Italian wine that you have to be very patient with (most Nebbiolos are released when they’re five or ten years old and can live for many years); the other is a fresh, early release style that’s ready within twelve months.

The Nebbiolo flavour—powerful, yet delicate and floral—is subtle and can be an acquired taste. If you enjoy strong black tea, your palate might take to Nebbiolo a little quicker than most. And if you stick with it, you’re rewarded with the discovery of a hidden beauty.

 

John Darling, Darling Estate

Nebbiolo is the king of the Italian reds, without a doubt.

It’s a good wine for grape growers: it’s disease resilient, has big open bunches, and the high tannins stop mould late in the season. As one of the first varieties to bud burst at the beginning of the season, and about the last to pick, it’s out there for a long time on the vine. I think that adds to its mystique.

This climate suits it because of the cool evenings that give the vines an opportunity to gain their breath after a warm day.

I like the big, heavy, tannic styles that need time to come into their own. They go with big food, like risotto with fresh field mushrooms—the pairing is just perfect. But Nebbiolo is often made in more approachable, less tannic styles; it’s pretty versatile.

If you haven’t tried any Nebbiolo, you should try a lot of them!