Top 12 non-Italian Nebbiolos

NebA recent db article reported on Hill of Grace producer Henschke’s decision to release its less well-known varietal Nebbiolo – The Rose Grower – in the UK for the first time. This gave us the idea of highlighting other non-Italian producers who were doing good things with this wonderful but pernickety grape.

Nebbiolo is, of course, Italy’s most noble variety, whose value to the growers of central and northern Piedmont over the centuries has been such that in the Middle Ages, people could be heavily fined – and recidivists actually hanged – for cutting down a Nebbiolo vine.

Nebbiolo is hard to grow and as hard to succeed with as Pinot Noir. Also, as with Pinot, the grape tends to appeal to the purist, for many of whom drinking Neb from anywhere outside Piedmont really ought to be an arrestable offence.

Even those who do manage to overcome that extreme bias are faced with the additional obstacles of extremely limited production and, by extension, the amount of wine being exported.

Nevertheless, the beguiling, perfumed deliciousness of good Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco has inspired producers all over the world to take on the challenge of producing great wine from the variety.

In terms of where in the world, other than northern Italy, the grape has been turned into wine worthy of note, Australia leads the way by far – in particular Adelaide Hills – with small but significant areas of plantings in California (c.150ha – Wine Grapes, 2012), Argentina (176ha), Chile (9ha) and South Africa (18ha).

Indeed, the rise of ‘alternative’ varieties in Australia is becoming an increasingly important topic for the country’s winemakers.

Kim Chalmers is viticulturist and winemaker at Chalmers Wines in Heathcote, Victoria. Chalmers’ work in the field of alternative, particularly Italian varietals has played a key role in the growth of this movement in Australia in recent years. 

Chalmers imported nine clones of Nebbiolo in the late 1990s which were selected from the Gaja vineyards in Piedmont. “Nebbiolo is a challenging grape to grow and make anywhere in the world and Australia is no exception,” she told db.

“It’s a bit like Pinot Noir in that it attracts a kind of fervent passion and requires dedication and patience to master.  As with any variety, the choice of suitable site/climate/aspect is very important.”

According to Wine Grapes, the first Australian Nebbiolo vines were planted in the Hunter Valley in the early 1980s, then later that decade in the King Valley, Victoria, by Pizzini. The first Nebbiolo produced in Australia was from Brown Brothers in 1990.

They were followed by Crittenden and, more recently, a growing number of producers in the Adelaide Hills, where longer, cooler growing seasons and poor, loamy sand soils are producing some very interesting results.

In the pages that follow, we present 12 producers from here and other winegrowing regions of the world who are leading the way in the production of non-Italian Nebbiolo… 

3 Responses to “Top 12 non-Italian Nebbiolos”

  1. Can’t believe you missed L.A Cetto Private Reserve Nebbiolo from Baja California, Mexico. One of the first new world nebbiolos and in our view one of the best. Authentic and delicious.

  2. Leonardo Ricardez says:

    Agree with the LA Cetto comment. Additionaly it is very affordable, and has a big following in Mexico.

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