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Knowing your Nebbiolo

As the darling red grape of the wine trade, Nebbiolo basks in glory from the Italian communes of Barolo and Barbaresco. However, this new event in the diary was a chance for other Piedmontese regions to shine alongside the current Nebbiolo superstar locations, and Italian specialist Walter Speller – the brainchild of the day itself – ensured they had their moment of glory.

At a seminar showcasing wines from northern Piedmont, Walter encouraged the audience to be as open-minded as possible and not to fall into the classic Nebbiolo traps of describing Barolo as masculine and Barbaresco as feminine (erm, guilty M'lud).

Instead, he encouraged the room to focus on Nebbiolo as a transporter of origin and with that he introduced the 12 wines from Alto Piemonte, Valtellina and Valle d’Aosta, all of which have the proximity to the Alps in common, where the cool climate of promotes growing Nebbiolo on canopy vines to ensure they ripen enough. These wines had their own stylistic individuality without a doubt; a trademark freshness, heightened acidity and souped up perfume.

While tasting, Walter raised another interesting point, about how British wine drinkers have misunderstood much of Nebbiolo in the past, something which is apparently in stark contrast to the US, where wine drinkers' knowledge of different Nebbiolo styles is more advanced due to its strong Italian immigrant population.

So, plenty of Nebbiolo food for thought at the event in general and especially so from the more northern, cooler outposts of north west Italy at this seminar, leading Walter to conclude that he doesn’t see anything else “attract as much excitement as Alto Piemonte Nebbiolo” these days. That's quite the endorsement, and you can see our own thoughts when we report on the tasting in our January issue!

Until then, happy Nebbiolo – of all styles – drinking!