Langhe Nebbiolo, a study

Langhe Nebbiolo is a success story, but some of this success may be coming at the expense of other local varieties, such as Dolcetto. Between 2001 and 2010 plantings of Nebbiolo in Italy (much of it is in the Langhe, in Piemonte) rose from 4600 hectares to 5500.

The grape is an old one, first mentioned in 1266. It is certainly distinctive, and has a talent for slightly lighter-coloured red wines with good acidity and often firm tannins. Winemaking varies, but this is a variety that does very well with extended post-ferment macerations, sometimes as long as 60-70 days.

Langhe Nebbiolo is sometimes a way for producers of Barolo or Barbaresco to declassify their wines, but increasingly it is made from Nebbiolo grown in the wider Langhe area.

I recently had a chance to taste 13 different examples of Langhe Nebbiolo, and I found a lot to like. Treve Ring has also added her notes from recently tasted Langhe Nebbiolo.

Albino Rocca Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 Piedmont, Italy
Pale in colour, this is bright and expressive with fine, sweet cherry and strawberry fruit. Really pretty and bright, showing pure fruit and a bit of grip. Quite lovely. 92/100

Brezza Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 Piedmont, Italy
There’s some substance here, with bright supple cherry and raspberry fruit and a touch of grip, showing good acidity. Lovely finesse and purity. 91/100

Renato Ratti Ochetti Langhe Nebbiolo 2019 Piedmont, Italy
Nice density here with some waxy notes as well as firm structure under the bright cherry and raspberry fruit. Substantial and delicious with nice weight. Lovely balance. 92/100

G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2019 Piedmont, Italy 
Astonishingly floral and expressive with floral red cherries, wild strawberries and some fine spicy notes. Nebbiolo at its most alluring. The palate is expressive with a bit of tannic crunch keeping the sweet raspberry and cherry fruit fresh. This is such a delight. It offers massive drink ability but also some seriousness. A beautiful expression of this grape and the perfumed nose is so gorgeous. 94/100

Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo 2019 Piedmont, Italy
This is structured and dense with nice grip and drying tannins, showing lovely density to the red fruits. It’s a really lovely wine with good balance, but lots of structure too. 93/100

Fratelli Casetta Langhe Nebbiolo 2018 Piedmont, Italy
Savoury in style with bright cherries and plums, as well as firm structure and hints of leather and iodine. Grippy finish. 89/100

Cascina Alberta Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 Piedmont, Italy
Light, fresh, juicy and bright showing easy cherry and strawberry fruit. It’s really pretty and expressive with a sweet core. 90/100

Roberto Taverna Langhe Nebbiolo Tech 2019 Piedmont, Italy
Lovely fruit intensity here: quite a substantial wine with concentrated sweet cherry and berry fruit with nice purity and a rounded texture. Has some wax and herbs in the background. Lovely stuff. 92/100

Cascina Chicco Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 Piedmont, Italy
This is supple and ripe with sweet cherry and plum fruit, with a smoothness and fine grained structure. Open and fruity with some strawberry sweetness. Sappy notes, too. 89/100

Agostino Bosco Rurem Langhe Nebbiolo 2019 Piedmont, Italy
Concentrated and direct with pure, dense, sweet berry fruits and a cherry flourish. This is bright and expressive with lovely fruit presence. 92/100

Marrone Langhe Nebbiolo 2019 Piedmont, Italy
Elegant and nicely poised with sweet red cherry and cranberry notes, as well as a touch of wild strawberry. Low extraction style works really well, showing off the sweet elegant fruit. 93/100

Castello di Perno Langhe Nebbiolo 2018 Piedmont, Italy
This is brisk and fruit driven with nice structure to the red cherry and plum fruit. Good concentration with grippy tannins and appealing freshness. 92/100

Giulia Negri Langhe Nebbiolo Pian delle Mole 2019 Piedmont, Italy
13% alcohol. Giulia Negri has taken over at her family estate and is a rising star in the region. This is Nebbiolo from the Serradenari vineyard in La Morra. Very fine and elegant. Pure and floral with red cherry fruit as well as fine-grained structure. Floral, fine and elegant with a red fruit core. 94/100 (£18.50)

Ring’s notes

Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco 2017, Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
This Langhe Nebbiolo is sourced from declassified cru sites, and aged for less than the minimum requirements, therefore not qualifying for the Barolo DOCG. All the better for us = delicious cru Nebbiolo, at a stellar price. Decant this and allow the 35-year-old vines some breathing room to reveal crushed florals, lifted raspberry and cherry, threaded with reams of broken stones and lashes of subtle leather and medicinal cherry. Tannins are slight and sticky, and acidity is lofted and alit with a limestone buzz, lingering with salinity. This 2017 is drinking now smartly. 91/100

Giovanni Rosso Nebbiolo Langhe Rosso 2018, Langhe, Cuneo, Piemonte, Italy
Burgundy-trained winemaker Davide Rosso leads his family’s winery, based in Serralunga d’Alba. The plots are farmed organically and biodynamically, with minimal intervention in the cellar. This Nebbiolo comes from the same vineyards used for their flagship Barolo, and vines planted from 1984 – 2008. It was native fermented in cement, and then aged in 50hl French casks for a few months until bottling, without filtration. Teeming with fragrant roses, this finessed red shows crushed plum, wild raspberry, cherry, crushed stone through the medium bodied palate, firmly bound by ample, fine Nebbiolo tannins to the savoury, spiced finish. Drinking very smartly now, especially with roast poultry and/or wild mushrooms, this still has a couple years in the cellar ahead. 91/100

Rivetto Langhe Nebbiolo 2019, Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
Youthful, energetic, travelled Enrico Rivetto farms his family’s estate with a philosophy beyond biodynamics, and towards complete biodiversity. This Nebbiolo, tipped with 5 percent barbera, comes from a west facing vineyard planted 340-400m on clay and limestone at the top of Lirano Hill, between Sinio and Serralunga d’Alba. Native fermented in stainless. Lively, tight, and bright, with wild raspberry, cherry on a brisk, slender palate, finishing with refreshing astringency. Very much in youth, this will continue to relax and unfold with time in the bottle. 91/100

Rivetto Nebbiolo Terracotta Vino Rosso 2017, Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
Entirely singular; Nebbiolo was native fermented for 2 weeks on skins, racked from gross lees, then back on skins until June, for a total of 8 months in Italian amphora. Tasted again in Spring 2021, 2 years along from first visit, with fragrant cherry, raspberry ruling the textural palate, laced with brooding plum and fragrant raspberry blossoms through a bacon fat finish. Tannins are Nebbiolo-strong, though softened marginally here via amphora. Best with a light chill, and drank over the course of a night (possibly due to 31mg total sulphur). Only 1000 bottles produced. The charming label art was created by one of Enrico’s children. 90/100

Elio Sandri Langhe Nebbiolo 2018, Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
Cascina Disa in Monforte d’Alba was a settlement of Monks of the Abbey of Breme at the beginning of the 15th century, and even then was used for wine production. Since 1965 it has become the heart of the Sandri family winery, who continue the ancient wine-growing traditions of the area. Elio now makes his wines with the highest respect for nature and for tradition, eschewing industrial methods. This Nebbiolo opens with crushed rosehips and candle wax, before moving into raspberry, wild cherry on a fine, salted palate. Tannins are quite present, hemming in the slender, understated fruit at this youthful stage. The finish lingers with subtle salted bergamot, and a swell of warmth. This benefits from some airtime, to allow Nebbiolo to reveal. 89/100

Filippo Broccardo Langhe Nebbiolo Il Giò Pi 2017, Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
The Broccardo estate has been in the family since 1900 and is currently in the hands of the third generation, Federica, Filippo, and Laura. Their 13 hectares of vineyards are located in the Langhe, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, and Novello. After a two week ferment in stainless, this rested 10 months in new to 10 year old 35hl Slavonian and French tonneaux, prior to a 10 month bottle rest before release. The orange glint gives away the Nebbiolo, as does the alluring cherry, wild roses, fine spices, and ample grippy, fine tannins that are well integrated. The finish is lingering, and lightly warming, drinking well now (think pork or wild mushroom pasta) but will continue in your cellar short term. 90/100

Damilano Lecinquevigne Barolo 2014, Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
This Nebbiolo comes from 30-50-year-old vines off five sites in the calcareous-clay hills of Piemonte’s Grinzane Cavour, Monforte, and Novello. With its characteristic orange tint, this bright Nebbiolo is filled with ample mineral salts, wild cherry, red currant and summer strawberry, knit together with layers of worn leather and fine dust of pepper. Bright, finessed and savoury, this is drinking beautifully now. 91/100