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One of the things I like about having focused on Nebbiolo this week is that it’s also given me the chance to reflect on Italian food. As I’ve tasted these wines, I’ve had foods, and images of countryside put to the imagination as well. The commonality is a sense of rich simplicity, ranging from the rustic to the elegant. The encompassing feelings and flavors of terroir captured in a Nebbiolo reflect links to the styles of cooking.
Nebbiolo is one of the well-known grape varieties that flourishes within very particular conditions. Like Pinot Noir, it is a grape that knows what it wants, and demands the right circumstances to blossom into full expression. Outside that range and the flavors of Nebbiolo can suffer. As such, it is a grape variety that, so far, has done best within one particular region–Piedmont, Italy. Even there a slight shift in the climate and sun exposure has been shown to alter its flavors noticeably.
People are currently experimenting with growing Nebbiolo in other parts of the world. California, Washington, Australia, and Mexico are currently minor growing areas for Nebbiolo. Interestingly, the wine production market in Mexico is flourishing locally but producers prove reluctant to consider export. To taste such wines, then, we’ll have to take a business trip to the Baja. Damn.
If you’re interested in Nebbiolo, the Piedmont district of Northern Italy is still the main go-to area. Take into account that such wines generally like to age, or be given room to breathe, so decant before drinking. There is a nice richness to Nebbiolo that is well worth exploring. Enjoy it with stronger flavored meats, or slow cooked stews. It does well too with more flavorful, firm cheeses.
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