Langhe Nebbiolo

The nebbia (fog) of Settimo vineyards

The Langhe DOC is a more generalized designation for wines in south Piedmont. Logistically, it encompasses the Barolo, Barbaresco, and Roero DOCG growing zones, and much more. Outside of six named grapes (including Nebbiolo), foreign or blended grapes fall under the labeling "Langhe Rosso" or "Langhe Bianco". The rules in this designation are much more lax in terms of yields, varietals, aging, and blending. Thus, for greater freedom of style and cost, producers may select grapes that otherwise qualify for DOCG status and release them under the Langhe designation.

Not to be brushed off as entry-level, these quality Nebb's offer accessibility and drinkability with more affordable price tags than their notorious brothers. Typically, they are lighter with less oak experience. They may also demonstrate great price-quality relationship. Hailing from Barolo and Roero areas, the following exemplary producers release Nebb with Langhe labeling, superb in quality and value.

For the unfamiliar, Nebbiolo provides distinct, earthy wines of light colouring, immense dryness, and somewhat aggressive structure high in acid and tannin. As can be expected for even their 'lighter' renditions.

Aurelia Settimo 2006 Lange Nebbiolo

Tiziana Settimo (daughter to Aurelia) runs a modest and dedicated winery here, entirely within the Rocche Dell'Annunziata designation in the Barolo zone. She grows mostly Nebb with ~15% Dolcetto plantings. The clay soils rich with lime and chalk support vines diversely aged 18-45 years. This Langhe Nebb comes from the same vines as her standard Barolo, the difference being shorter maceration (half) and zero oak aging. 6'900 bottles produced. Her website is rich with technical info on the wines, vineyards, and vinification.

Brick red with a burnt orange rim, light and translucent. This 06 is ripe for the drinking. With a bit of sloshing about, the aroma is open and extroverted; rich with arid countryside, a reminiscence of dried red berries. The acidity, tannin, and alcohol are reasonably high, masterfully integrated. The profile is all secondary; tan and light brown with a classy touch of black.

Not as big as its Barolo counterpart, but stylistically in that very direction. This uniquely non-oaked version gives an honest insight into Nebb and the Rocche. Its a serious wine without breaking the bank or the gums. Did I mention delicious? Available at WineInk for $30.

Vietti 2007 Nebbiolo 'Perbacco', Langhe

On a different note, this fellow sees a full maceration period, 10 months in French barriques, and 16 months in Slovenian oak. Vietti is a large winery with holdings primarily around Barolo, but also by Barbareso and further east. The Perbacco is a blend of multiple sites, with vines averaging 35 years. 70'000 bottles are produced annually, of the winery's net half million.

Well rounded; great fruit, secondaries, lots of varietal typicality. Dark and slightly opulent to look at. The nose spans shades of red and brown. Think fallen leaves of a humid autumn, game roasting with mushroom and berry over wood fire. The powerhouse posture means business; girthy tannin sits wide in the mouth, while appropriate acidity and aging comprise a balanced full body. Available at WineInk for $35.

Giovanni Almondo 2009 Langhe Nebbiolo

Revisiting a subject of this editorials first post, in its new vintage. Primarily an Arneis producer in the Roero region, a damn good one, Domenico and his family have a keen touch for sensible Nebbiolo as well. Website.

With a similar maceration to the Settimo, this one ages 12 months in second use French oak. The terroir is flimsy and granular, mostly silt and sand hold the 25 year old vines. 4000 bottles annually. The grapes are of the same vineyard as their DOCG destined brothers, picked a little lower on the hill. Choice of aging is a primary factor for the difference in designation.

The style here is more approachable and fruit focused. Fragrant florals with wild red and blue fruit. The feel and balance are elegant, with grip and roundness playing nice. A diverse food partner. Available at WineInk for $25.

Geek out...

August 2012