Nebbiolo is one the world’s greatest grapes. It’s the pride of Piedmont, the northern Italian region that gives us the storied wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. These wines often require two things that present challenges to many wine lovers: significant money and time aging in the bottle.
Fortunately, there is very good Nebbiolo that can be enjoyed with more modest amounts of each.
If you look beyond Barolo and Barbaresco, there are other appellations (or denominations as they are called in Italy), that provide delicious Nebbiolos worth trying.
Perhaps the best known is Langhe Nebbiolo, which refers to the broader Langhe region that includes Barolo, Barbaresco, and many other denominations. Langhe Nebbiolo might be thought of as a JV version of Barolo and Barbaresco — often bottled as a kind of “second label” by top Barbaresco and Barolo producers and sold for under $20.
One of those producers is Damilano, whose 2014 Langhe Nebbiolo “Marghe” I found at one of my neighborhood wine stores for about $18.
Like its more illustrious cousins, the wine was marked by an earthiness that defines Nebbiolo from the region. But it was softer, less tannic, and more ready to drink now than many 2014 Barolos would be.
It was an altogether lovely wine with notes of dried red fruit, blueberry, raspberry and subtle cedar. A touch of orange peel at the end and lively acidity kept the overall impression fresh.
This is a wine for roasted and grilled meats, and I can imagine it with my grandmother’s signature dish — her Sunday roast beef, its surfaces seared to a deep brown perfection, surrounded by browned carrots and onions.
While the 2014 is available in some stores, there appears to be more of the 2015 in the market. I wouldn’t hesitate to try either one.