Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo 2004 (Langhe, Italy)
$50, Cork, 13.5%
As great as Nebbiolo is, its unquestionably a grape for masochists (As noted by Halliday amongst others). Mid weight, light coloured, with an aroma threatened by excessive oak & often hobbled by the oxidative rich production method and a palate threatened by the very thing that makes Neb great: Tannins. As a result, Nebbiolo is, even from its Italian homeland, a challenging wine to get your head around. Personally I love the stuff (my bank balance doesn’t), yet I can understand why big JH himself can think of it as hard going – I struggle myself (like with the Sito Moresco, a Neb blend that never came good).
This ‘Baby Barolo’ starts off as a true masochists wine. Mid ruby red in colour with tawny orange edges, the nose has tar, truffles, aniseed, VA and old wood. Typical Neb nose then. The palate is dry, somewhat oaky and noticeably acidic, with some quite chunky richness on the mid palate. Up until this stage it just smells and tastes like a slightly oxidised, closed red. But then everything changes. Like the rush of chilli heat, the tannins hit you in a chewy wave, making the whole wine feel complete, lingering on with their bitter, aniseed astringency. They aren’t suck the moisture out of your brain tannins, but they just remind how bloody great tannins are.
With some more air, the nose opens up, the package gets richer, more oaky and more meaty, finally resulting in a wine that features complexity and interest at its centrepeice, the leathery, Biltong and cherry flavours, mixing with the drying, grown up tannins, making for a surprisingly approachable, needs-food, dry red.
Baby Barolo indeed. 17.5+