02 Nov Notable Noble Nebbiolo
The Italian varietal Nebbiolo is arguably one of the most intriguing wine grapes in the world. In Australia, much of us are used to our big, bold Shiraz, thus the delicate, nuanced characters of a well-made Nebbiolo can be a shock to the palate at first. Delve a little deeper, and the plethora of incredible spice, fruit and earthiness is empowered by grippy, rich tannin and juicy acidity.
Nebbiolo’s spiritual home is the Piedmonte villages of Barolo and Barbaresco, where it is made into highly regarded and long-lived wines. It is not uncommon to see 40-50 year old Barolo wines still looking fresh as a daisy, with layers and layers of complexity. In the modern Australian wine growing industry, Nebbiolo demands the perfect cool microclimate in order to display its best colours. The King Valley, Adelaide Hills, and of course the Yarra Valley have become regarded as premium Nebbiolo producing Australian regions.
Authentic Nebbiolo, utterly convincing. Really quite spectacular – 96 Points
HUON HOOKE on Soumah 2015 Single Vineyard Nebbiolo
At Soumah, our Northern Italian focus ultimately led us to undertake the challenge of producing a Nebbiolo as authentic as we can. In order to do this, we have employed traditional Piedmonte winemaking techniques. Post-ferment, the skins macerate on the wine for 120 days to ensure good extraction and a softening of the big tannins. The wine then is racked to old French oak puncheons (500L) where it softens gracefully for 18 months before bottling. We don’t use new oak as the wine already has enough tannin.
The inherent challenge of cultivating Nebbiolo is its fickle nature in the vineyard. It is the first vine to budburst and is the last crop harvested. This extended ripening season is perfectly suited to the cool climate of the Yarra Valley, where we get the heat when the sun is high, but overnight the temperature drops giving the vines a chance to rest, as they don’t want to be stressed (very relatable!).
Our aim is to do justice to this ancient varietal in our attention to detail prsuit of quality over quantity. Our 2015 vintage Nebbiolo is available now: drinking well but will also benefit from extended cellaring. Wine critic Huon Hooke rated it the best 2015 vintage Australian Nebbiolo he has tasted – we’re happy to agree!