Nebbiolo is a red wine grape varietal predominately linked with the Piedmont wine region of northen Italy - where it makes the D.O.C.G. wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. The name Nebbiolo is thought to stem from the Piedmontese word 'nebbia' which means 'fog'. As during harvest time, which typically takes place in October, a thick fog sets in on the Langhe region where these Nebbiolo vineyards are planted.
Other explanations refer to the fog-like 'bloom' that forms over the berries just before harvest or that perhaps the name stems from the Italian word 'nobile', which translates to noble.
Nebbiolo is an important varietal, and famous for producing world renowned red wines - in reality, this grape makes up only 5% of all the wines produced in the Piedmont area.

 

There are twice as many hectares planted with Dolcetto and nearly ten times more Barbera. A reason for this - Nebbiolo is one of the more problematic varietals for both viticulturists and winemakers to work with. It is very sensitive to both soil and geography and can yield wines that vary widely in body, tannin and acidity, as well as aroma and flavour complexity.
A late ripening grape, the vines need the best exposures, especially in cooler climates, in order to reach maturity. It performs better in calcareous rather than sandy soils. Nebbiolo grape skins are relatively thin, but quite tough and fairly resistant to molds and other pests.
Many winemakers and in particular local viticulturists feel that the Nebbiolo varietal can be even more difficult to get physiologically ripe and work with in the winery than Pinot Noir. It can be changeable, moody and unpredictable while undergoing typical vinification and aging procedures in the winery.
Nebbiolo traditionally produces lightly coloured red wines that can be high in tannins and with aromas of red berries, liquorice, violets and roses. As they age, the wines take on a characteristic brick-orange hue around the rim of the glass and mature to reveal other aromas and flavours such as violets, liquorice, wild herbs, dark cherries, wild raspberries, truffles and tobacco. Nebbiolo wines can reward several years of aging to balance out their natural tannins with other varietal characteristics, resulting in rich, complex wines - enjoy.