November 10th-Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is a red grape that originates in the hills of the Piedmont region in Northern Italy and this is where a vast majority of Nebbiolo grapes are grown around the world. The most famous (and complex) wines made with this grape are Barolo DOCG and Barbaresco DOCG, both typically selling for over $50 per bottle due to their extensive aging process (A minimum of 38 months for the ‘normale’ Barolo ranging upto 62 months for the Riserva Barolo. Barbaresco aging falls between these two ranges.). But do not despair, as there are plenty of other less expensive wines made with this grape. A great example of this is one from the Langhe DOC, also located in Piedmont but at a lower elevation. The lower elevation means the fields are easier to tend and the wines tend to be more fruit forward than their more expensive counterparts. Bottles from this region are much more affordable, usually between $15-$35. Nebbiolo wines can be deceptive. They resemble the light red color of Pinot Noir in the glass, share a wonderful level of complexity and are both great candidates for prolonged aging. I’ve heard Nebbiolo referred to as a more tannic version of Burgundian Pinot, with light enough styles that can be paired with seafood or heavier styles that are seeking game or braised meats as a companion. It is also a great option for those seeking more antioxidants in their wines but not wanting them to be too heavy.

The idea for Villadoria wines began with Daniele Lanzavecchia in the early 1900’s, when his family decided to begin a vine nursery. Daniele’s ultimate dream was to make wine, but it wasn’t until his son Pietro returned from graduating with a degree in Agriculture that father and son could make good on turning their passion into a reality. In 1959, Pietro and his wife Pietrina began buying up vineyard property, including that of Villadoria. Daniele got to have his impact by overseeing vineyards and assisting Pietro in managing the estate. Today, the business is run by Pietro’s son, Daniele and Pietro’s granddaughter, Paola.

This week, I will be pairing a 2016 Villadoria Bricco Magno Nebbiolo with bolognese. The 2016 vintage in the Piedmont region is something of legend so there are very few poor bottles of wine from this region from that year. As one winemaker put it, “If you can’t make a good bottle of wine on the best years, you have no business making them on bad ones’. With that said, if you can, pick up a 2016! This pale garnet wine has long thin legs that trickle down the goblet. It tastes of luscious red fruit (cranberries and tart cherries) and vanilla, along with dried rose petals and orange blossom. The acid is bright which is perfect for a slow cooked bolognese. The red fruit accentuates the slow cooked meat while the subtle vanilla pairs with the hint of nutmeg in the sauce. The tannins are nicely integrated into the wine and smoothed out further by the fat in the bolognese. A moderate level of alcohol in the wine meant I could take a sip to enjoy every bite or 2 without worrying of feeling too tipsy by the end of my meal. Nebbiolo wines are perfect this time of year as hunting seasons are in full swing. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to braised game meats or even duck and pheasant. 


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