alibi online
Weekly Alibi PodcastFree Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.16 No.35 | August 30 - September 5, 2007 



Lifting the fog

The mighty Nebbiolo grape.
The mighty Nebbiolo grape.

Nebbiolo is a bitch of a grape—if I may be so blunt. Temperamental, picky and unpredictable, this little fruit has big attitude, and I don’t mean in the diva way. This grape makes a manly wine that'll have his way with you and then leave you feeling violated but wanting more.

Nebbiolo is named either for the fog, nebbia, which blankets the Piedmont during harvest or for the foggy bloom that develops on the grape as it reaches maturity.

Barolo and Barbaresco are the most legendary wines made solely from Nebbiolo. Of the two, Barolo wears the pants. Big, beefy and no-nonsense, Barolo is not for sissies. Barbaresco, by no means delicate, is a bit more elegant. Both are powerful and challenging, displaying massive tannins and a heartiness that can only be born in the Alps. These wines always require aging, in both barrel and bottle, to mellow the tannins and allow their structure to be realized.

When grown and aged under optimal conditions, nebbiolo yields a highly structured wine with aromas and flavors of tar, truffles, smoke and leather. The most intriguing attribute of this grape is its ability to produce wines with a rose bouquet.

This difficult vine is most cooperative when grown in Italy’s Piedmont region. Home to white truffles, the Shroud of Turin and the 2006 winter Olympics, Piedmont is a cold, mountainous region with soil made up of limestone, clay and sand. Terroir is very important to Nebbiolo. Grown anywhere else this berry becomes stubborn and unyielding. California, Australia, New Zealand, South America and South Africa have planted nebbiolo but have yet to produce wines worth mentioning.

Then I found out New Mexico was growing this fickle fruit. If I recall correctly, I laughed hysterically as I imagined some crazed, egocentric New Mexican winemaker telling himself, “Oh yeah. I am so good I can make Nebbiolo my bitch.”

Paolo D’Andrea, from Luna Rossa Winery in Deming, was neither crazed nor egocentric. In fact, he was rather realistic about what could be achieved with Nebbiolo grown in New Mexico.

“I’m pretty sure it is impossible to produce a Nebbiolo like the Piedmont in New Mexico.”

D’Andrea has yet to bottle Nebbiolo as a varietal. Citing a five-year minimum of barrel aging for Nebbiolo, he doesn’t have a concrete idea of what the quality will be. His Nebbiolo still has a few more years in the barrel before it will be even close to ready.

He has used Nebbiolo to bolster the body of his 2001 Nini. This Italian blend brings together spicy Sangiovese and sweet Dolcetto with the ballsy Nebbiolo resulting in a passive-aggressive wine that is both pleasing and amusing to the palate.

St. Clair Vineyards, also of Deming, has thrown caution to the wind and bottled their Nebbiolo on its own. The result is a sweet wine with a honeyed quality that lacks the complexity traditional Nebbiolos are cherished for. I would venture to say that the honeyed mouthfeel is a result of being grown in such a warm climate.

It would be fair to say that St. Clair’s Nebbiolo is not a good varietal example, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it for yourself. While I don't subscribe to the school of thought that "a good wine is a wine you like," I do think it’s OK to enjoy a bad wine. Those who enjoy a sweeter wine that doesn’t require a lot of contemplation may find the St. Clair Nebbiolo right up their ally.

Before you buy a bottle of either of New Mexico’s Nebbiolos, stop by one of several wine festivals taking place across the state this weekend and have a sip or two.

Labor Day Weekend Wine Festivals

Harvest Wine Festival

Sept. 1-3, noon-6 p.m. daily

Southern NM State Fairgrounds, Las Cruces

Wine and Lifestyle Expo

Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2-8 p.m. daily

Balloon Fiesta Park, Albuquerque

New Mexico Wine Festival, Bernalillo

Sept. 1-3, noon-7 p.m. daily

243 South Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo


Today's Events

Fundraiser Night at Flying Star Café

10% of sales are donated to the Southwest Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

Nob Hill Growers Market at Morningside Park

Peruvian-Themed Wine and Cocktail Dinner at M’Tucci’s Cocina Grill

More Recommended Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    TroyBoi Live
    TroyBoi Live6.11.2016