Nebbiolo is the source of Piemonte’s most complex, distinguished, and famous wines, Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo possesses almost exclusive affinity with Piemonte, as its performance outside this heralded zone is serviceable at best. Despite its marked rapport with Piemonte, Nebbiolo still proves to be a difficult partner, a fact directly implied by its provision of less than 3% of the area’s production. A demanding one, it requires significant exposure to the summer sun and ripens very late in the season.
While Barbaresco is considered to be softer than Barolo, given the appellation’s primary soil type (calcareous), many examples defy this convenient point of difference. In general, however, it tends to be slightly finer, less tannic, and more elegant than Barolo, and typically offers greater approachability. A significant dimension of a wine’s character is influenced by the medium selected for aging as well as the represented site. In traditional practice, Barolos and Barbarescos are fermented in large wooden botti and the maceration process may extend over a two-month period. In modern methodology, which began to evolve in the 1960s, both maceration and fermentation periods were reduced. A hallmark of the movement was the introduction of new French oak barrels, which is widely attributed to Angelo Gaja.