Ultimate Estate Reserve Collection
Bottled September 2015
Nebbiolo is a very old variety, commonly identified as having originated in the early 1200s. An early budding, late ripening grape, like Pinot Noir (the “heartbreak grape”), it is very fussy about its growing conditions. Appearing predominantly in Piemonte, Italy, Nebbiolo vines demand south or southwest facing hillside plantings. The grapes feature a milky white covering or “bloom”, Mother Nature’s defence against both moisture loss and mold invasion.
Three quarters of the world’s Nebbiolo is in Piemonte, where Barolo and Barbaresco are composed of 100% Nebbiolo. Nearby regions of Italy also produce Nebbiolo, which is blended with small amounts of other local varieties. Small plantings appear elsewhere in the world, including Canada. A very small amount is planted in British Columbia. The Niagara region of Ontario is making strides in its production of Nebbiolo.
Nebbiolo’s chief characteristics are aromas of violet/roses and tar; high acidity; low residual sugars; elevated tannins. All of these make Nebbiolo not only age-worthy but an excellent match for many of the regional foods. One of our wine instructors, well-known local Sommelier Antonio Mauriello, constantly stressed the food and wine connections that he had grown up with in Italy. Nebbiolo is the poster child for that school of thought–its structure simply demands that it be part of a meal.
True to form, one of the principal aromas is of dark red rose, floral and sweet. Along with the rose comes cherry; fresh-cut cedar; tobacco; chocolate; and mint.
The first thing on the palate was a warm and lush, and to me irresistible, caramel flavour derived from judicious and fairly lengthy oaking. There are some earthy tones including mushroom compost and fall forest floor; bright cherry; anise; a hint of pepper. The finish was long and complex, with layers of caramel; fresh-ground white pepper; and anise.
This Ultimate Estate Reserve Nebbiolo, at a little over a year old, is really coming into its own: well balanced and deeply flavoured. It would be a wonderful accompaniment to well-flavoured stew-type dishes; ricotta/asiago/herb tortellini drizzled with olive oil; porcini mushroom risotto; chicken saltimbocca (prosciutto-wrapped chicken) with gorgonzola cream sauce. It would be a standout with a charcuterie tray of dark olives; thicker-sliced prosciutto; gorgonzola; asiago; Monteblu, cow’s milk/goat’s milk cheese from the Piemonte region. On my tasting plate today was a four-year-old Quebec artisanal cheddar–the saltiness, slight creamy texture and pronounced flavours of the cheese were well matched by this delightful Nebbiolo.
Prepared for Wine Kitz Ottawa Iris
By Wendy Smyth, Certified Sommelier