Nebbiolo is a perplexing but wonderful grape variety. Naturally low in colour and high in tannin, it isn’t very consumer friendly. But it is capable of greatness, as the top examples of Barbaresco and Barolo demonstrate on a regular basis.
Like many Italian red varieties, it doesn’t travel well and attempts to make new world Nebbiolo have mostly met with disaster. But here are two Australian examples that are quite serious. Neither is cheap, but they are both along the right lines, offering complexity, definition and the potential for further development. I followed both bottles over a few days; they didn’t change much. I think they could both do with a decade in the corner of a cold, dark cellar.
SC Pannell Nebbiolo 2007 Adelaide Hills, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Fermented for 20 days and aged for 24 months in French oak; five different clones of Nebbiolo used. Cherry red colour with a bricking rim. Lovely aromas of sweet cherry fruit with an almost stern, spicy, subtly earthy edge. The palate is complex and savoury with firm, grippy tannins and complex earthiness. There’s some drying character and fresh cherry fruit. Structured with high acidity, this needs food right now to overcome the tannins, but it is a convincing attempt with Nebbiolo that I reckon has a long future ahead of it. 92/100
Arrivo Nebbiolo Lunga Macerazione 2006 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Arrivo is the label of Peter Godden from the Australian Wine Research Institute. He’s a perfectionist, and has focused solely on this variety, from which he makes two red wines and a rose. This is the top wine, left on the skins for a remarkable 72 days. Eight clones of Nebbiolo are used. 14.5% alcohol. Cherry red colour with hints of brick red on the rim. Highly aromatic, complex nose with sweet fruit and exotic spices. Quite beautiful. There’s a complex spicy edge to the seductive cherry fruit. The palate combines pure, sweet, liqueur-like cherry fruit with complex savoury, spicy notes. Tannins are present, but cloaked in the rich texture and sweet fruit. Although this wine has a long future ahead of it, there’s a harmony to it already. 94/100
The SC Pannell is available in the UK through agent Liberty Wines. Harrods stock it for around £40. Arrivo isn’t yet in the UK. Find these wines with wine-searcher.com