Think you know Nebbiolo? O mio babbino caro, think again.

I’m enthralled by Tri-Veneto wines, and seek to sing their praises whenever I get a chance. They’re made for what we eat around here; it’s only natural we “drink local.” But any wine enthusiast will seek out good wines no matter where they’re produced; and good locales will always offer a wide selection of palate-pleasers representative of the wide-wide world of wine.

That’s what happened the other evening at La Cantina*, when co-owner Andrea ported out a bottle for an impromptu tasting. It was a bubbly, so I was already half way to liking it: métode champagnoise is all to often overlooked as an after-dinner, evening-ending option. So, what do have we here…

A sparkling metodo classico but not Franciacorta? Not Trento DOC? Rose, OK, but, what color is that? Coral? no. Pink? nope. Sort of an intense, mauvish red, as if the dried rose hips you might find in your great- grandmother’s potpourri had soaked for hours in the perlage. Curiouser and curiouser… Lots of floral in the multifaceted nose, and in the mouth? Charming and unexpected. Fresh and sturdy, but not forceful or challenging or steely. People pleasing without being silly or soda-poppy. Just a pleasure.

It’s Nebbiolo in purezza, the same wine of the austere, head spinning Barolo fame, over whose massive calices who-knows-how-many of the world’s problems have been solved, late into the night, by its imbibers. And here it is, flouncing around, singing, lilting, but never leaving far behind its intense complexity, even as a wild rose.

Same grape, whooooole different wine. Grande nebbiolo

Erik, Paolo, Cristian and Federico are Erpacrife (formed by combining the first letters of their first name), and this is their wine. Nebbiolo harvested early to guarantee the acidity and contain the alcohol, soaked on the skins just long enough, even adding a short stint on wood. Then a second fermentation in the bottle with 24 months on the lees, and at the end, at the sboccatura, when the lees are removed, the wine is capped pas dose, dosage zerò, topped off only with identical wine. Not brut, not extra dry, not saten.

All of this would make little difference if the wine wasn’t, well, just delightful. It’s one of those that will stick, like the first, and still best Piccolit I ever tasted (I don’t think my eyebrows have been raised as high since), the Gavi Soldati La Scolca Millesimato d’Antan Rosè, the color of apricots with a perlage that would have gone on for centuries if I’d been able to resist drinking it, etcetera, etcetera.

I love these ad hoc discoveries; they’re the reason I almost never choose my own wine when eating at a trusted locale — just like ordering dinner, it’s best to ignore the menu and the list and just ask, what’s good today?


* La Cantina is one of many locales in Venice that offer a great selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle. Located just off the Ca’ d’Oro stop on Campo San Felice, across the bridge in front of the church of the same name. Dinner reservations are essential.


photo credit and Albergo-Ristorante il Cascinale Nuovo

One thought on “Think you know Nebbiolo? O mio babbino caro, think again.

  1. Pingback: Scarzello Erpacrife Nebbiolo Metodo Classico 2008 | Mat og Vinnett

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