Nebbiolo – Surprising Sparkling Wine Grape Variety

28th February 2024

Nebbiolo Surprising Sparkling Wine Grape Variety

If you think of the Nebbiolo grape variety, you may first think of red wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. So, I was surprised when I heard about sparkling wine made from Nebbiolo. Red wines made from Nebbiolo are often very acidic and rich in tannin. Strong mouth-drying tannins are indeed one of the hallmarks of the Nebbiolo grape, which often divides opinion.

Nebbiolo cannot necessarily be described as easy to drink. However, there are differences between regions, and Nebbiolo also produces less tannic and more approachable wines.

Nebbiolo is a late ripening variety. This may also be related to Nebbiolo’s alleged name nebbia, which means fog. The grapes could have been picked in autumn in foggy weather.

With the warming of the climate, the Nebbiolo harvest has come earlier.

Nebbiolo comes from Piedmont in Italy, where it is still cultivated the most. In Italy, in addition to Piedmont, Nebbiolo is grown in Lombardy and Valle d’Aosta.

Nebbiolo is also grown in Australia and North and South America. However, the cultivation areas of the New World are relatively small due to the unsuitable climate.

The continental climate of Piedmont is suitable for Nebbiolo.

Nebbiolo is often compared to Pinot Noir, which is one of the main grapes for Champagne.

The similarities suggest that both Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir are challenging to grow and secondly, they can make very wonderful and sophisticated wines.

Cuvage Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC Brut Millesimato 2016

Cuvage sparkling wine house was founded in 2011 in Piedmont, Italy. Precisely in Acqui Terme, in the province of Alessandria. Cuvage produces different sparkling wines. Their goal is to highlight the age-old tradition of sparkling wine born in Piedmont in 1895. I tasted their Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC Brut Millesimato 2016, which is 100% sparkling Nebbiolo made using the traditional method.

The grapes come from the Verduno and Montaldo Roero area, where the soil is calcareous clay and silty soil. The vineyards are located at a height of 380-450 meters above sea level.

The grapes are harvested by hand in late August or early September so that they have just the right acidity. The grapes go through a soft pressing and a short skin maceration. The first fermentation takes place in steel vats at 14-16  C. Second fermentation in the bottle and maturation on the lees for at least 24 months.

So, how did this sparkling wine made from 100% Nebbiolo taste?

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I had never tasted a sparkling wine made from Nebbiolo.

First, the color is a beautiful pale pink. Wines made from Nebbiolo usually have a pale color.

The bubbles are small and plentiful. Citrus, redcurrant, wild strawberry, a little herbaceous and toasty in the aroma. The taste is dry and acidic. In addition to the aromas of the scent, the taste has red cherry and a little pastry. Medium finish. Sparkling Nebbiolo is a real surprise and very different compared to the traditional red wine made from it.

Nebbiolo turns out to be a versatile and refined variety and sparkling Nebbiolo can really be elevated to the class of elegant sparkling wines.

Taru Pyrhönen

Wine writer and master's student in sustainability science.