By Paul Caputo

Nebbiolo is one of the great wine grapes of Italy. Thick skinned, late ripening and capable of creating wines that age gracefully for many years, Nebbiolo’s cult status has grown into full blown global appreciation for its distinctive aromas and structural profile. It is best known for its role in Barolo where it gives wines that are famously tannic in youth but often, over the course of decades, develop to reveal a seductively ethereal character.

In the neighbouring growing area of Barbaresco it is gives a slightly fleshier, softer version, but again, its inherent rustic austerity ensures wines with plenty of body and tannin. Regardless, these villages have slowly won over wine lovers across the world and have acquired the prices to match the hype. The interest around in these wines and the Nebbiolo grape in general has led to a culture amongst producers of making single vineyard wines. Such an approach has inspired a detailed mapping of both Barolo and Barbaresco which in turn has lead to the introduction an official cru system in both denominations.

Needless to say the study continues to fuel interest and intrigue in the multitude of hillsides and soil types which characterise these low production wines. In addition, the study has contributed to a greater understanding of how Nebbiolo performs in different terroirs. The unanimous conclusion is that grape, when made with low intervention in the cellar, is one of the great interpreters of its vineyard, and as such, one of the great wine grapes of the world.