Nebbiolo is apparently problematic to grow – some growers and winemakers consider it more difficult to manage than Pinot Noir. In terms of maturity, it requires good exposure, ripens late, is judgemental about soils, and can vary widely in tannin and acidity. Even after being crafted into a promising wine, it can still get moody and changeable in the cellar. Sounds like a challenge I’m up for!
I tried Podere Ruggeri Corsini Langhe Nebbiolo DOC – 2009 – heralding from Piedmont, the traditional home of this varietal, if not the original one. It’s a tad young, but being a tannin lover I was prepared for a woody experience.
On the nose, there were hints of violets, roses and anise intertwining with cherries, licorice, and an almost pungent earthiness. On the palate, dark, sour cherries dominated the fruit spectrum, with toasty vanillan oak. To be honest, I didn’t really notice any strong bitterness – which is a trait of Nebbiolo – but I was drinking it with food (pork ribs marinated in terriyaki sauce), which might have masked this. The promised tannins were certainly grippy, even a touch green, and delivered the experience I was looking for. The alcohol was quite high (14.5%) but it was well balanced, even unnotable, on the palate.
The next day brought a surprisingly clear head, which I didn’t expect from a wine with such a bold, brooding reputation!
I imagine another 3 years in the cellar would certainly tame the tannins, but for my money ($30-35AUD), I loved it in its young form. The only thing I might do differently with the next bottle would be to pair it up with some strong, bitey cheese.
Overall, this wine was easy to drink, loved by all who shared the bottle, and something I will look forward to revisiting in another 3-5 years to see if it developed attitude over time.