8 fine Aussie and Italian Nebbiolo
Sure, as some of the wines in this tasting show, we’re producing good wines. Real good in some cases (with a particular nod to Pizzini and Coriole). But the gap between Australia’s best and the best from Piedmont is still formidably large – and particularly with regards to tannin shape and balance.
Yet in the same sentence, Australian Nebbiolo has come an awful long way. Huge strides in Moreso, acceptance of Nebbiolo has never been higher locally, with top wines from Barolo, Barbaresco and even Gattinara appearing regularly on local lists.
It’s a good time to love Nebbiolo.
This tasting, put on by Sommeliers Australia, cherry picked a couple of great local and Italian examples too, with the focus here was on the 2010 vintage plus a few likely interlopers added for good measure. 2010, of course, was an excellent vintage in Barolo, perhaps the best since 2001. 2011 is also being spoken of as ’10s equal for Barbaresco, but I’m less convinced that the warmer vintage has produced as balanced wines.
The only challenge with this lot? Getting hold of some of these wines is difficult, with demand comfortably outstripping supply…
Wines were tasted relatively quickly but I went back through everything at least twice. Notes are as written on the day. Prices are approximate RRP.
Freeman Hilltops Nebbiolo 2012 $35
Dark ruby. Red cherry, quite heavy oak edge though it’s sinking into the wine. Lovely generous fruit style. Quite modern and plush without the clear wildness or tannins of a more revered Nebbiolo, the palate profile full and the finish really quite fresh and vital. Short maceration? Definitely not heavy. The only real downer here is the oak which is an overly large part of this wine, shaping everything. 17.5/20, 91/100
Didi Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo 2010 $60ish
Big heavy bottle. Light ruby with just a little bronzing. Cloudy. Lovely evocative cherry nose. Real high toned red fruit. Lovely glacé cherry fruits continue through the palate, which is light and energetic. A northern Piedmont-esque style. Love the suggestion of tar and sticky edge, but it lacks a little tannin to be really convincing. Quite beautiful though! Light and pretty, if just a bit confected. Lots of interest, if not quite the concentration. 17/20, 90/100
SC Pannell Nebbiolo 2010 $50
Orange ruby. Quite sweet and modern, this looks just a little caramelised in this context. It’s distinctively varietal but it feels like a lighter and skinnier expression. Extra points for it’s varietal integrity but overshadowed in this lineup and looks a bit plain and advanced. 16.8/20, 89/100
Sottimano Barbaresco Pajore 2010 $100
Bright red ruby. Tar, violets, expression. Beautiful energy here! It’s so refreshing – acid looks very balanced. New, expensive oak plays a big part here too, but the tannins and expression feels very swish and power is undoubted. Fine tannins. High quality juice, if just a little light for that oak. Ageless freshness and very long. Highly highly recommended. 18.7/20, 95/100
Ca’Rome Barbaresco Maria di Brun 2010 $150
Ruby red, just a tinge of brown. Backwards nose. Sweet vanilla oak and a rasp of oak tannins. A wall of oak and fruit so far, drying tannins seem very extractive and firm. Old school. Barbaresco meets Barolo. Long term but oaky now. A keeper! 18/20, 93/100
Ferninando Principiano Barolo Ravera 2010 $95
Dark ruby. Love the BBQ meat charcoal edge. A slightly sweet and sour palate but there is a beauty here too – sausage meat and drying tannins, but lightness too. A quite oxidative style but really refreshing. Some of the extraction is a bit cumbersome? Quality though. Real stuff. 18.5/20, 94/100
Massolino Barolo 2010 $95
Dark ruby. Open knit nose. Indeed it’s even a bit jammy. Sweet and sour palate has authentic Nebbiolo spirit but it feels a little lean and every bit the more entry level Barolo with its slightly sweet and sour expression. Good but doesn’t scale the heights. On it’s own, however, this would probably be still impressive, but here it looked a fraction underpowered. Important plus sign. 17.7/20, 92/100+
Poderi Colla Dardi Le Rose Barolo Bussia 2010 $140
Bright, deep ruby. Menthol, Caramel and tar. My bottle was freshly opened and it looked it. Tar and a very backwards and slightly warm palate. It’s classic in its tarry expression, but that furry tannins and warm alcohol is just a bit confronting. Lots of sand in the soil here? This needs a decade. That savoury tarry character is quite impressive, but the extraction and alcohol detracts a little. Will live forever. 18/20, 93/100+