Longview Nebbiolo Saturnus 2017
So much of our contemporary Nebbiolo benchmarks are based on Barolo and Barbaresco. Much like Pinot Noir to Burgundy or Assyrtiko to Santorini, this is what we first think of when the topic heads towards the best Nebbiolo.
But there’s another, somewhat forgotten Italian Nebbiolo hotspot that produces a much more elegant and bony version of the grape (known locally as Chiavennasca) – Valtellina.
The awe-inspiring steep vineyards (with 3000m peaks above) of Italy’s most northern wine region are remarkable in themselves (my photo above doesn’t do it justice), let alone the fascination of such a different expression of Nebbiolo.
Here, the style is more Pinot than Nebbiolo, with ferrous tannins, fragrant cherry aromatics and fresh acidity. The challenge in delivering ripe and palatable wines can also be countered by appassimento drying of Chiavennasca grapes to produce the Amarone-like (but with more acidity) Sforzato.
Which brings us to the Longview Nebbiolo Saturnus 2017.
From first whiff the low(er) alcohol, coppery colour and lightly ferrous tannins had me thinking about Chiavennasca.
Of course the Adelaide Hills are a long way from the alpine valleys of Lombardy (so the wine is a different shape), but the markers are the same. Cherry fruit aplenty. Fragrance. A wine not about fruit, but savourines. It hasn’t quite tapped into the high acidity of northern Italy, but the mediumness, the elegance, the long firm tannins mark this as a different wine to not only most Australian Nebbiolo, but with an extra fragrance and lift compared to previous vintages (thanks to the cooler vintage perhaps).
Strictly speaking this isn’t an easy wine to love. It’s angular, firm, tannic, but also fragrant and very vinous. A wine of intrigue, and all the better for it. Best drinking: wait until next year and then for a decade plus. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $50. Would I buy it? Worth a glass or two.