GOTN Explore Nebbiolo Wines

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Nebbiolo wines originated in the northern region of Piedmont Italy. These wines fall under the sanction of the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) for and include Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Gattinara and Ghemme. Barolo and Barbaresco contain 100% Nebbiolo in the wine. Both from Northern Piedmont the differences that can be noted in the aromatics and palate, are the result of the soil. Barbaresco is grown in nutrient rich soils producing less tannins than it does in Barolo. Because of the tannin contents, Barolo wines are required to be stored and aged for 3 years before releasing verses the Barbaresco which only requires 2 years of storage. For the Reserva, Barolo and Barbaresco require 5 years and 4 years respectively.

The name Nebbiolo is believed to have been derived from one of two possible sources based on the Italian word nebbia which means fog:

  • The first is that during harvest which takes place in intense fog that is common in the Langhe region in October when the Nebbiolo grapes are picked.

  • Second is that nebbia refers to a milky-white veil that covers the grapes as they age.


Both Barolo and Barbaresco wines posses aromatic's of rose followed by perfume and cherry. On the palate, flavors of cherry can be noted along with high acidity and tannins accompanied by an earthy profile. Both of these wines generally provide a long finish. With the high amounts of tannins and acidity, these wines will cellar easily for a long time providing even more complexity. Many top Barolo and Barbaresco wines can reach the same prices as the French First Growth Bordeaux wines.

The wines brought by the GOTN members allowed us to explore the characteristics described above, along with the different nuances between New and Old World, different vineyards and Barolo vs. Barbaresco. The wines were from both "Old World" and "New World" with vintages ranging from 2004 to 2012. The wines brought included:

  • 2004 Barreri Rovati Riserva Barbaresco - Barbaresco, Italy

  • 2005 Barreri Rovati Barolo Riserva - Langhe, Italy

  • 2009 Azienda Agricola Rossotto Nebbiolo D' Alba - Langhe, Italy

  • 2012 DAOU Nebbiolo - Paso Robles Calif./grapes from Valle de Guadalupe Vineyard Mexico

In closing, Appellation America says this about Nebbiolo, "One must speak softly and with the utmost respect of you, Capo Crimini, our Italian boss of bosses. Known to most as Don ‘Barolo’, you rule with a tannic, iron fist. One needs infinite patience to attain an audience with you. Rarely witnessed is your soft side, but the lucky few who live to experience your compassion sing your praises. The young, (Vinny) ‘Barbaresco’ seems to be a more approachable and less intimidating member of the family Nebbiolo, but the prudent wouldn’t dare approach either of you without at least a decanter. Although Old World authorities are wise to your racket, in California the name “Nebbiolo” is still shrouded in fog."


Rusty Sly