Emma says: “In honour of the King of Italian grapes “Nebbiolo” I decided to crack open a special bottle this week, Pio Cesare Barolo 2009. This is a renowned family producer that I knew would show this grape at its best. Nebbiolo can be a tricky beast because it has very bold tannins, so I was hoping that a great example would help Andy understand what I love about it.
I imagine quite a few of you have heard of Barolo before, given it is heralded as the finest of Italian reds. But perhaps you weren’t aware that the wine it is made from is Nebbiolo grapes and the name Barolo is related to the most famous region it comes from in Piedmonte, North East Italy. A useful tip is that Nebbiolo from the neighbouring area Barbaresco or the wider region Langhe can be a great cheaper alternative, if you do like this wine but don’t want to pay the premium price tag that Barolo comes with.
Now onto the wine in question. Starting with the scent, because it really is beautifully perfumed, people describe it as smelling of “tar and roses” and I agree. The Barolo I’m tasting has a dark smoky rose hip note, with a forest floor savoury undertone and some balsamic twists from its age. Then on the palate this Nebbiolo sort of grabs you in a really nice way – sensuous again! The tannins are described as feeling like tea leaf, but in a good Barolo, like the one I’m tasting, they are tight on your teeth but somehow smooth and not raspy. The flavours have a sour cherry bite with a soft earthy undertone and a gentle marzipan note that lifts it with a hint of sweetness. This particular vintage I’m drinking was warm so the fruit is nice and weighty but some Barolo I’ve had can be beautifully mild and ethereal in how they sit on the palate.
Basically I’m trying to say it is easy to fall in love with good Barolo because it is so complex, dense and yet somehow elegant at the same time. I really hope the one you get to taste is half as good as mine.”
Andy says: “I was looking forward to this red as I thought it might be ‘the one’.
Alas, I’m still waiting for that big, bold, smoky red to turn up, and we’ve already covered Rioja so perhaps I’m screwed. I found this wine to have a little brown tinge, I guess maybe from its age. I’m afraid to say I didn’t get any of this amazing perfume or tar and roses – it just smelled like alcohol and bit of VA. I did get a bit of black cherry on one tasting, and I also think the tannins were smooth, but I go very little else, sorry Em!”
Nebbiolo is the grape that goes into making the classic Italian wine, Barolo. Nebbiolo is the grape and Barolo is the the region. This week all you need to do is to find a decent Barolo from the Italian red section of a wine shop. This is never a cheap wine but if can be explosive in its flavour and a truly unique experience. Don’t miss this week!