Nebbiolo is something of an enigma; it’s hard to love and definitely something of an acquired taste, but those who do like it, almost canonise it. At the suggestion of Anne from @liqueurplate, a recent gathering of Dublin bloggers set to on a short tasting exploration.
These two Nebbiolos (Nebbioli?) are two very different styles – at different price points – which most piqued my interest from the selection. Both are from Piedmont, specifically the Langhe, which is probably the region most closely connected to the grape. The “King and Queen” of the region are Barolo and Barbaresco respectively are the most prestigious names associated with the grape. I highly recommend Kerin O’Keefe’s book on them.
Guidobono Langhe Nebbiolo 2013 (€17.95, Mitchell & Son) 14.0%
This is probably the most fruit-forward style of Nebbiolo I’ve tried (though I don’t claim any expertise on the grape). Although not austere, it does have the tannin and acidity that Nebbiolo is renowned for, along with roses on the nose. But there’s also lots of juicy dark fruit which makes it very moreish. A great introduction to Nebbiolo, and very good value for money.
Elio Grasso Barolo “Ginestra Casa Mate” 2006 (~€65, Sweeney’s of Glasnevin) 14.0%
Finian Sweeney of the eponymous Wine Merchants in Glasnevin imports this himself and recommended it to me as a serious, but accessible Barolo. At nine years old it is now ready to drink, but still has some way to go until it hits its peak.
Elio Grasso is based in Monforte d’Alba, the most southerly major commune in the Barolo wine region. They have just 18 hectares, mainly planted with local grapes Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera. Elio Grasso makes three Barolos, which have been bottled separately since 1978 with an eye on constantly improving quality.
The estate produces an average of 14,000 bottles of this Ginestra Casa Maté per year from three hectares.
Vinification is modern – temperature controlled in stainless steel – before the wine is transferred to large 2,500 litre Slavonian (Croatian) oak casks for maturation. Once bottled it is held back to mature further for another eight to ten months.
So given the much higher price tag, is this a much better wine than the first? In my opinion probably not quite, at the moment. I will qualify that by adding that, for most people the Elio Grasso isn’t that accessible right now, even though it’s lovely to drink. However, with a few more years in bottle I think it could turn out to be much, much more than it’s showing now. This is a wine to revisit towards the end of the decade!