Nebbiolo is arguably the sulkiest of all grape varieties, but great examples achieve an ethereal complexity unequaled in the world of wine.
If you thought Pinot Noir was a temperamental grape, then you haven't come across Nebbiolo. Even in its homeland, in northwest Italy, it only performs in the best vineyard sites and with plenty of TLC. However, the efforts are worth it.
Tar, roses, flowers, plums, raspberries, truffles and more … great Nebbiolo is truly an assault on the senses. Sadly, only one region is the world is capable of producing such wines in any quantity - so far.
Nebbiolo's homeland is in the foggy hills of Piedmont, in northwestern Italy. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are astonishing wines, often quite pale in color but with a wealth of aromas and flavors that emerge with time in the bottle.
Those looking for more pocket-friendly alternatives should seek out Nebbiolo d'Alba, or one of the growing number of very successful Nebbiolo/Barbera blends. Outside Italy, Nebbiolo is thin on the ground, but examples can be found in Australia, California, South Africa and even Mexico. So far, most lack the magic found in Piedmont, but a few hint at possibilities for the future.