Nebbiolo is one of the oldest grape variety, first being referenced as far as back as the 13th century. More importantly for us wine lovers, Nebbiolo grapes produce very tannic, big bold red wines such as Barbaresco and Barolo - something to your taste? Read on to discover Nebbiolo in a nutshell.

Origin: Piedmont, Italy

Nebbiolo is a native grape from Piedmont, a northwest region from Italy. The name, Nebbiolo, is derived from nebbia or “fog”in Italian. It could be because grapes are covered by a white, powder-like natural bloom during the harvest season or because in late October, when the Nebbiolo grapes are harvested, a deep fog sets on the Langhe region where many Nebbiolo vineyards are located.

Global production

Italy is the most famous country producing Nebbiolo wines with first the Piedmont region, where the grape originates from, and then Valtellina in Lombardy. Barolo and Barbaresco are also grown in Piedmont - if you haven't heard these names before, definitely worth adding them on your bucket list. Grapes are also grown in the US (California mainly) as well as in Argentina, Australia, Chile, South Africa and Uruguay. New world Nebbiolo wines will be more floral and aromatic - so flavour them if more to your taste.

Taste and characteristics

Nebbiolo grapes make garnet red wines. Although they look light, they are characterised by a good amount of tannin and acidity. You can expect aromatic notes of dark fruits, tar and rose. Other flavours could be present such as damsons, dried fruit, leather, mulberries, liquorice and fresh and dried herbs. The reason why is that Nebbiolo - like Pinot noir - is a “terroir-expressive” variety: its taste can vary drastically depending on where it is grown. It’s also a difficult grape to grow as flowers bloom early but it takes a lot of time to ripe. The growth of these grapes require a lot from the land and the surrounding air; it needs impeccable brightness and soils which are not too dry.

Wines made from Nebbiolo

Barbaresco and Barolo are the most famous wines made from Nebbiolo grapes. Barolo is often described as one of Italy's greatest wines - Barbaresco and Barolo wines are bold and spicy. As Nebbiolo wines present a high level of tannins, they can benefit from ageing as the bouquet becomes more complex and enjoyable. You should wait from ten to thirty years before opening a high quality vintage.

Food pairing

Spicy Barbaresco and Barolo are best paired with meat. The aromatic notes of dark fruits, tar and rose in Nebbiolos make it well-suited for not too overwhelming cheese. An ideal pairing would be with brie, goat or full-fat feta cheese. This wine pairs perfectly well with roasted root vegetables or Asian cuisine for a spicy hit.

Piedmont or new world - make your pick today

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