Many are intimidated by anything other than Chianti, and understandably so: there are so many Italian grapes to learn, yet the wines are often named by region and not by the varietal itself, making learning Italian reds somewhat of an endeavor. Still, I consider it to be an endeavor that is well worth the effort. So before I delve into the characteristics of this beautiful (and cheap!) wine, I would like to first take a look at the word “Nebbiolo” and exactly what it means, in hopes that my readers will take away an understanding of this grape and the style of wine that it produces.
Nebbiolo is a grape, just like Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot, or Zinfandel. It is predominantly grown in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, a region which borders France and Switzerland and which is largely bordered by the Alps.
Before I go any further, ask yourself this question: a region in Northern Italy will most likely not be as warm as the Southern regions… what does this mean for the wine? Following the basic “more ripening = more concentrated sugars in the grapes = more sugars to convert to alcohol = an alcohol with a higher alcohol” rule (OK, not so “basic”, but you get the idea) this wine should be less fruit-forward, less “jammy”, and have a lower alcohol content than some wines you might find in really warm wine regions, like Sicily.
Is this true? Totally.
Instead of being a “fruit bomb” that is characteristic of wines from hotter climates, a Nebbiolo is a bit more subdued. It has a lot of tannins (often meaning that it is better drunk after being laid down for a few years) and rather than jammy fruit flavors, it exhibits aromas and flavors such as violets, tar (in a good way, believe it or not), cherries, raspberries, and tobacco or plum.
Where can one find Nebbiolo? Of course, the grape is produced predominantly in Italy, and it also constitutes two wines that have gained great acclaim: Barolo and Barbaresco. However, it is also grown in California and Washington, amongst other regions. This particular Nebbiolo was produced in Alba, thus the name “Nebbiolo d’Alba” (from Alba).
What to serve with Nebbiolo? The high tannins of the wine and the more subtle fruit flavors make Nebbiolo perfect for meat and tomato-based pastas such as Osso Buco and Chicken Cacciatore; however, I would also serve it with braised meats and beef or wild boar stews that are so popular in the winter, and I can’t help but to shamelessly plug my Balsamic Brussels Sprouts and Tuscan Peposo (beef stew) that I’ve been obsessed with as of late.
And now, on to the wine itself…
The Stefano Farina Italian Nebbiolo d’Alba exihibits the floral and tar notes that are characteristic of a Nebbiolo. In addition, it is medium bodied, with fairly high acidity and very present tannins. The wine opens up quite nicely (in fact, it is a great wine to sample if you want to virtually “watch” a wine open up, as it does so quickly and transforms into a completely different wine within half an hour!).
Want to learn more about Italian wines? Check out the many articles we have on obscure Italian wines and fun Italian wine regions on our blog, learn all about the DOCs vs. DOCGs of Italy’s Classification System in our article here, and learn all about the history of wine in Italy with our article on the country’s fascinating viticultural background here! And, as always, don’t forget to LIKE us on Facebook!