It just goes to show that it’s never too late to discover Nebbiolo!
Author: David Berry Green
The following blog is written by Robert Cecil, former (now retired) colleague at Berry Bros. & Rudd and fine wine aficionado (mostly Bordeaux), whom I invited out to the Langhe to show him what was happening; it was his first visit to the region and we visited Giovanni Rosso, Mario Fontana, Manuel Marinacci and Cantina Mascarello Bartolo…
I arrived home exhausted, after 3 exhilarating days in the Langhe district of Piedmont, with a sense of witnessing a revival of the former style of wines produced earlier, from the extraordinary Nebbiolo grape. A similar reversion towards the original lighter style of wines is apparently also taking place with the Sangiovese grape in the Chianti area of Tuscany. Coincidentally, I read an article this week, stating that serious consideration was being given in the Napa Valley of California to uproot existing vine stocks in order to produce a lighter style of wine. Maybe the days of dull, heavy, fat alcoholic wines are drawing to a close?
I was very impressed by my first experience of the Langhe region, its people, culture, wine and food. I had no preconceived idea of what to expect, except David’s infectious enthusiasm for the area, and when he said “come and see for yourself,” my journey began. Superb autumn colours, hills, valleys, fruit and nut trees amongst the vines, all help to define the area… The local vignerons are all undoubtedly passionate about their wines, very friendly with a distinct reserve in their character.
When I took the Wine and Spirit Diploma at the Vintners’ Hall in the late ’60’s, the section on Italian wines was very sparse. A gentleman, I seem to recall by the name of Salvi talked generally about Soave, Valpolicella, Asti Spumante, Chianti and Verdicchio and of course Barolo but little else. This was happily before the days of Lambrusco! In the intervening years, Italian wines have for the most part been off my radar, and it was not until this week that I had the opportunity to study the Piedmont wines and to realise the quality, finesse and depth of the Nebbiolo grape as well as the Barbera and Dolcetto .
We concentrated on the red wines (and Prosecco!) so I haven’t yet had the chance to appreciate the white wines of the area. Accompanying the wines is of course the world renowned cuisine, all fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and crowned at this time of year by the wonderful truffles… A gastronomic feast !
Piedmont is steeped in culture, the ancient Kingdom, with exquisite castles and churches in nearly every village, a paradise both for locals and tourists. Berrys now has an extensive selection of Italian wines, which I look forward to trying with my family and friends in the winter months to come.
Many thanks to DBG for arranging such an interesting, enjoyable as well as educational couple of days in the Langhe.
Next week – promise! – I’ll be reporting on the Nebbiolo wines of the Alto Piemonte: Gattinara, Ghemme & Novara…