Working With Wine: The Nebbiolo Sessions
Enough love, time for the wines.
These notes all come from a seminar/masterclass last week, with notes are as written on the day with extra bits in italics. RRPs are approximates based on wholesale prices and the scribblings were done quickly.
Bracket 1 – The building blocks, Piedmont’s supporting players
Prunotto Dolcetto d’Alba 2013 (Piedmont, Italy) $24
Again the obvious oak makes a mark here, giving a little lead pencils and some tannic chew.
Ahh some extra complexity. Mint, bacon, blood and bones. Firm tannins and plenty of them gives this weight and a little wildness. A little Brett? Certainly some earth. Has charm too, but it’s wild and a bit meaty style. Has drinkability though. 17/20, 90/100
Bracket 2 Nebbiolo in Australia
Fletcher Minion Nebbiolo 2012 (Pyrenees, King Valley and Yarra Valley) $38
Some nice Conterno quotes:
‘Many Australian Nebb more rough tannins like Roero when younger, after 5-6 years they’re much closer to Barolo/barbaresco’ Franco Conterno
‘We drink Dolcetto and Barbera every day. Nebbiolo is for Sundays’ Franco Conterno.
‘Organic is a word that everyone likes. But to my grandfather it was the only way’ Conterno
Bracket 3 Poderi Aldo Conterno ‘Colonello’ vertical
Average age is 45 years old. The grapes are handpicked and then fermented in tank at 31-32C. Twice daily pump overs in tank, with. 1 month on skins 2 weeks of which are ferment and 2 weeks post ferment maceration. The wine then spends 2 years in ‘clean oak’ (as Franco calls it) which is shaved every 2 years. Barrels are 25 hectoliter Slovenian botte. This spends 28 months in oak.
Interestingly, the barrels are not toasted, just steamed. At Conterno, the cheaper ‘Favot’ is the only Nebbiolo in barriques. Favot spends 1 week in barrel and pressed off before the ferment is finished.
‘If I had to drink any of them tonight it would be the 05. The 06 I’d prefer to leave’
Bracket 4 Great vineyards
It looks prettier and open, slighter and just a bit sullen after the bombastic palate of the Cicala. It’s prettier and complex, long and actually quite svelte but the tannins are sneaky. Hard to separate the Cicala and the romirasco – the latter is deeper, darker, more mysterious, the romirasco prettier, more elegant. Gee hard to pip. Maybe drink the romirasco now, the Cicala later. Romirasco just gets it as it has the more lifted aromatics. What a wine though. Stunning. 18.9/20, 95/100
A Gaja caveat – I’ve never been a massive Gaja fan. A great man and a tireless Piedmont icon, yet I’ve never ‘loved’ the oak driven, super-polished and utterly ‘made’ Gaja style. Give me the quirks of one of the Conterno wines over this. Oh and the price? Madness.
Oak. Tar and roses and oak. As usual, this tastes more like a heavy, slightly stewed aged red than a classic Barbaresco – a little, skinny. Perhaps the lesser wine in the Gaja lineup, Nice acid though and a definitely more elegant expression than the Barolos before. Still don’t love the slickness of this wine. It will live forever though. 17.8/20, 92/100
Great writeup again Andrew.