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Nebbiolo is One of the World's Greatest Red Grapes for a Reason

Nebbiolo is responsible for two of the greatest red wines in the world: Barolo and Barbaresco. It's also used to craft other remarkable reds in Northern Italy that are worth exploring. Here's what makes it so special.

What is Nebbiolo?

Nebbiolo is a red grape variety whose ancestral homeland is the Northern Italian region of Piemonte, which is also often called Piedmont (both words translate to "foot of the mountain" for the region's location at the foothills of the mountains). The name Nebbiolo is a reference to the morning fog, or la nebbia, that blankets the best vineyards in Piedmont and keeps the grapes cool until it burns off. This fog allows for a longer growing season during which the grapes can ripen fully without losing too much of their telltale acidity.

Where does Nebbiolo come from?

Nebbiolo is grown primarily in Northern Italy, where it reaches its peak of quality. Though some excellent examples are also produced in Arizona, Southern Pennsylvania, and Mexico, the vast majority of Nebbiolo is from Piedmont, Italy. Piedmont's two greatest expressions are Barolo and Barbaresco, both of which are 100% Nebbiolo, though the terroir in each results in wines that taste quite different. There are also great Nebbiolo-based wines from the Roero appellation in Piedmont, and ones labeled Langhe Nebbiolo can also be wonderful.

What is the difference between Barolo and Barbaresco?

Both Barolo and Barbaresco are made from Nebbiolo, though in general, Barolo is the more powerful of the two. Barolo has historically been called "the king of wines and the wine of kings." Both of them, however, have excellent aging potential depending on the producer and vintage. They evolve in absolutely gorgeous ways, often developing notes of truffles, tar, and dried rose petals alongside their classic spicy and bramby berries.

What does Nebbiolo taste like?

In general, Nebbiolo boasts notes of cherries and brambly berries in its youth, and as it matures, characteristics like tar, truffles, and dried rose petals emerge. Nebbiolo-based wines tend to have higher acidity and fine-grained yet assertive tannins, which allow for remarkable aging potential.

What does Nebbiolo pair with?

Nebbiolo tends to pair well with mushroom-based dishes, particularly those with truffles in them, as well as rich and sometimes fatty meats, duck, lamb, veal, and all kinds of beef. It also does well with creamy, cheesy risotto.

What are popular brands of Nebbiolo?

There are many popular brands of Nebbiolo, including Scavino, Rocca Felice, Sandrone, Mauro Veglio, Gaja, Rivata, and more.

Browse our full selection of Nebbiolo online or check out our highly rated Nebbiolo for a great new Nebbiolo to try this week!

Want to learn more about Nebbiolo?

Visit our Guide to Nebbiolo to learn more about Nebbiolo.