Starting off the month rogue with a quick visit to Italy, Piedmont in the northern portion of the country.
History of Nebbiolo
If you notice the labeling on the two bottles one states Barbaresco and the other Nebbiolo. Yet both contain 100% Nebbiolo grapes. There are areas in Piedmont, Italy where a small portion of “other grapes” can be added but that is not within the scope of this story. Nebbiolo has been around since the 1200’s, with some controversy as to its origin in Italy. Some state Piedmont was the origin and other state further to the east in Italy. The first written comment about Nebbiolo is from 1268 and was from more easterly Italy. Nebbiolo comes from the word nebbia meaning “fog”. Fog forms in the valleys but the vineyards of Piedmont Nebbiolo are in the sunshine above the fog.
Characteristics of Nebbiolo
Nebbiolo is a thick skinned, late harvesting grape. Key flavors and aromas are pronounced roses, cranberry, sour cherries, leather, and strong minerality along with red fruits. Most notable are the mouth puckering and lip smacking tannins. Most Nebbiolos are best served many years after their release date to allow the tannins to settle down. In the glass they can appear light colored and translucent around the edges, but do not be fooled that you are about to be greeted by a “light weight wine”! The acidity and tannins are almost unmatched in red wines.
The two wines selected for tonight’s meal where spot on with these characteristics. Both enjoyable with one being a DOC (La Spinetta) and the other a DOCG (Socre). Surprisingly, both were delicious and the DOCG had “less tannins” after a while in the glass. Both were double decanted and allow to breathe for almost two hours. The La Spinetta list price was around $30 and the Socre was about $65. For the value I preferred the La Spinetta.
2014 La Spinetta Lange Nebbiolo DOC. A lighter color, rustic, rose petals and with strong acidity and tannins. A very distinct Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Langhe DOC from vineyards in Neive. Fresh cherry fruit with leather and pronounced tannins. Aged 12 months in Oak and 6 months in the bottle before release.
2012 Socre Barbaresco DOCG. On the eyes, garnet red in color with a medium body. Spicy notes, intense with dried plums and cherries. Noticed as it warmed up in the glass, the tannins and acidity fell back in place as there but not having the sharp edges when it was initially opened.
The Food Pairing
Tonight for dinner was a pork roast with a tasty rub of olive oil, garlic and seasonings. Served with fluffy mashed potatoes and a fresh garden salad with the wine, brought one back to the hills of Piedmont. An excellent pairing