Blog: Chris MercerA Trip to Nebbiolo country

Chris Mercer | 15 April 2011

I have just returned from three days of pondering the meaning of life and wine in Piedmont, northern Italy.

At this stage, it remains unclear which could take longer to sort out, but there are some positive signs for the latter.

Berry Bros & Rudd's David Berry Green is making sterling efforts to unravel the tangled web of vines in one of Italy's finest viticultural regions. Most wine afficionados will know that Barolo and Barbaresco hail from Piedmont, but it is believed that fewer are aware that the source of these wines' power is the Nebbiolo grape.

Berry Green's project is to create more awareness about Nebbiolo and, specifically, to promote Nebbiolo d'Alba and Langhe Nebbiolo wines from the same region as a kind of second rung: a range of more accessible wines that are ready for drinking within perhaps three years, instead of the ten-year waiting period often associated with Barolo.

Nebbiolo wines still won't come cheap - we're talking more than GBP15 per bottle, at least.

When you lay it out before you, producers are in a fantastic position. Nebbiolo is so fussy that no other wine region in the world grows it in any quantity, giving producers in Piedmont exclusivity.

To boil it down, the flashpoint is that every producer remains fiercely proud - and rightly so - of their own style. The challenge is to persuade producers that a generic and clear campaign around Nebbiolo can coexist with this pride, rather than dilute it.


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