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Grape Story in Nebiolo, Italy

20-Feb-2020 by Enson


This production area is worth to discuss, that is the reason I wrote another article.

Travel Notes

When I get up and open the curtains this morning. The window is white. Yesterday morning was a sunny day, but it has been changed today. Alba was supposed to be foggy in the morning. I didn't expect to see the thick fog during this trip to alba, but finally I met it, and it didn't go away until noon.

In Giacomo Vico winery, the owner pointed to a certain plot on the 3D map of Roero production area and told us that this is the location of his vineyard. He also mentioned that Roero red wine has a good quality and storaged for a long time. Then, the owner took a bottle of 1996 Roero from the wine cellar and asked me to buy and bring it back to Shenzhen China. I have opened this wine at the end of last year and tasted it. This wine can compare with Barolo and Barbaresco!


When people mention the top quality of Italian wines, it always comes to Bouble B, Barolo and Barbaresco in Piemonte, north of Italy, or the grapres from Nebbiolo which made of the wine from Double B area, and it is also particularly suitable for growing in the double B region. Moreover, it can show different flavors in different climates and terroires. However, only few people know that in addition to double B, there are many Italian regions that also produce Nebbiolo red wine with excellent quality except double B.

You'll be sentenced to death if you cut down the grapevine?!


Although it is not confirmed when Nebbiolo grapes begin to plan in Piemonte of northern Italy, however, a document in 1268 mentioned that "nibiol" grapes were planted in Rivoli (now a suburb of Torino).  Than 1303, Canale d'Alba named the grape in Nebiolo. In 1304, written by Petrus De Crescenttis, Liber Ruralium Commonorum also mentioned grape nubiola. In the 15th century, the town of La Morra, anyone pulled out or cut down Nebbiolo's vines will be conviced as gulity, and penalty was a fine, hand chop or even a hanging.


As for the source of Nebbiolo grape’s name, most of the wine books will mention that because Nebbiolo grape is late in ripening, at that time it is easy to get foggy in Piemonte production area after autumn, Nebbiolo grape is often harvested in dense fog (Nebbia), so the grape will be named as Nebbiolo. However, there is another story mentioned that when Nebbiolo grape in ripens, there will be a layer of white frost powder on the grain.

The wine of emperor: Gattinara


Gattinara is in the northeast of Piemonte has began growing grapes in pre Roman times and it also began to export the graprs to other countries in the early of 14th century. In the 16th century, the Archbishop of Mercurio area introduced gattinara red wine to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V because he came from gattinara. After that, gattinara became the most famous wine in Piemonte. Until the end of the 19th century, its reputation began to decline.

Gattinara is located in the right side of the Sesia River, close to the Alps. The climate is much colder than Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo’s grapes can be ripened perfectly only in the vineyards from 250m to 500m above sea level, and located from east to southeast. The red wine’s aroma of Gattinara's can comparable to Barolo and Barbaresco, but more solid, and its acidity is higher than double B, if it has a longer aging space. Gattinara was upgraded to the legal region G.O.C.G of the top Italian wine in 1990.

Gattinara D.O.C.G stipulates that the Gattinara red wine must be brewed from more than 90% of Nebbiolo grapes, and another 10% can be added with vespolina (no more than 4%) and UVA rara grapes. The grape farmers will call Nebbiolo grape as Spanna.


Except to the Gattinara, on the other side of the Sesia river of the Ghemme D.O.C.G production area, it was very famous in the mid-19th century, but it also gradually declined due to the rise of Barolo. In addition, there are five production areas near Gattinara and Ghemme mainly product Nebbiolo, which is named Lessona, Bramaterra, Boca, Fara and Sizzano, all of them have good evaluation in the past. Currently, after Gattinara and Ghemme attracts wide attention again, these five production areas also start to have new development.

The famous Tuscany winery Isole e Olena, the owner is Paolo de Marchi’s family, actually comes from Lessona, where the family still operating the vineyard, but it was abandoned in the 1960s, becasuse workers came to the factory to work, they couldn't find farmers at that time. Later, Paolo bought the vineyard shares from other relatives. After a substantial reorganization, he listed the first year of lessona red wine in the name of proprieta sperino in 2004. As soon as this red wine goes on the market, it has attracted the attention of many wine critics, and also got a good evaluation. There are many wine friends in China who have tasted this wine.

Barolo's mountain brothers: Donnas and Carema


The Carema, in the north of Piemonte, the Donnas, the south of Valle d’Aosta, and the Arnad-Montjovet, have the titles of Mountain’s-Brother of Barolo and mountain area of  Nebbiolo (Vino di Montagna). Located on both sides of Dora Baltea River, Donnas and Carema are almost connected together, but because of the land division relationship, Donnas belongs to Valle d'Aosta Province, Carema belongs to Piemonte. Arnad-Montjovet is located to the north of Donnas.

Most of the grapes here are planted on the steep slopes. Only in the hotter years, the vineyards in south area can produce Nebbiolo grapes perfectly. Nebbiolo wine has obvious flavor of ore and more acidity. The wine body is light and elegant. This is Nebbiolo, also known as picotendro.

Dry red wine from Nebbiolo: Sforzato di Valtellina


Valtellina is located in the north of Lombardy Province, close to the Alps. Because there is an Adda River from the Alps that runs from west to east, it create many vineyards which is facing to south. This is the another area where Nebbiolo grapes are grown. The most famous wine in this area, named Sforzato which is made from the air dried Nebbiolo grapes.

The Vineyard of Valtellina which is located in the south area can get the more sunshine, and the stone wall on the hillside can also absorb the heat in the daytime, it can increase the temperature of the vineyard at night. In addition, the warm wind from the Como lake will blow into the valtelina production area along the river, so that the Nebbiolo grapes can be perfectly matured, if the grapes are air dried, it can makes wine similar to the Amarone style. Sforzato is more rich than Barolo and Barbaresco, but softer than Amarone, wine body is much lighter and charming.


Valtellina can also produces general Nebbiolo red wine. The quality of superior wine is same level of D.O.C.G valtelina, Superiore red wine is gentle, more delicate and suitable for drinking earlier time.

In addition, Valtellina Superiore has five famous sub-production areas, named valgella, inferno, grumallo, sassella and maroggia. These five production areas have special growth environment and they can produce unique Nebbiolo red wine, such as Inferno (also named “hell”) because of the steep terrain and hot climate in this area, the wine is very rich, full-bodied and has a long time in spacing. The aging space of Grumallo is close to the Inferno, but the aroma is more expressive and unrestrained.

In addition, Rosso di Valtellina is also made from Nebbiolo grape, which is regarded as the entry-level wine in Valtellina production area. According to the law, Rosso di Valtellina shall be made from more than 90% of Nebbiolo’s grape, and the remaining 10% of grape can be from Brugnola, Rossola or Pignola area. The grape named Nebbiolo is also known as chiavennasca in this area.

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