What’s the difference between Barolo, Barbaresco and Nebbiolo?
Well, for starters, you’re confusing place with plant. It’s a common mistake when trying to get your head around the Italian wine-scape. Over the years, Italy has been able to inject plenty of terms into the heads and hearts of wine lovers and, like most European winemakers, assumes that just because it knows what they mean, you will too.
The line where grape vines start and geography ends can be as grey as a Pinot Grigio’s grape skin, so don’t be too hard on yourself for not knowing that Nebbiolo is a berry and Barolo and Barbaresco are wines named after two small Italian townships world-renowned for producing wines from its juice.
Nebbiolo is an ancient Italian red varietal most commonly associated with Italy’s northwestern region of Piedmont. It creates wines that are light in colour, which belies their dense fruit flavours and high tannin levels. Famous for their ageability, Nebbiolo-based vino from superior vintages can last decades.
Nebbiolo isn’t Piedmont’s only celebrity grape. Moscato, Barbera and Dolcetto all call the region home, but none draws the attention of wine geeks with the same magnetism as Nebbiolo.
Piedmont is arguably Italy’s grandest wine region with a vibrant wine and food culture based on small artisan producers and eclectic cuisine influenced by centuries of foreign takeovers.
Barolo and Barbaresco have claim to some of Italy’s most valuable wine real estate, and it’s there that Nebbiolo rules.
Though Barolo wines command more attention (and higher prices) thanks to their bolder, palate-pounding personalities, the lighter tannic profiles massaged to perfection in Barbaresco make them more universally appealing. Just remember, if you ask an Italian for directions to Nebbiolo, he’s going to point you in the direction of a glass.