Wine Reviews: Nebbiolo on the Cheap

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-04-2022

I love Barolo and Barbaresco, but, like many primo winegrowing regions, the best stuff gets really expensive. Not to mention the cellar time it takes for many of the wines to open up. I wish I had a dollar for everyone Barolo I’ve tasted only to think, “Welp, that was great but should’ve let it sit for another decade.”

Luckily for us, there’s Langhe Nebbiolo, which are sort of like baby Barbarescos. These wines tend to spend less time in oak and bottle and show a juicier, fresher appeal, which, when dealing with a grape as notoriously grippy as Nebbiolo, can be a really good thing. If you’re trying to keep your hands of those Barolos in the cellar but need something to drink with a good osso buco, look no further.

I recently received a handful of Nebbiolos and was impressed yet again with the across-the-board quality, and excited by their distinctiveness. These wines are all imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct’s portfolio, which offers some nice cost savings.

Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy is a winery I’ve been following for a while, as their wines appear in my local market. But this winery has been owned by the di Grésy family since 1797, and since the 1970s they have been making only estate wines from the 100+ acres of vineyards. I’ve found a lot of these wines to be serious value, and this Nebbiolo from Martinenga is delightful.

Enrico Serafino is another producer with a storied history, dating back to its start in Roero in 1878, and their Picotener is an example of one of many clonal varieties of Nebbiolo. The wine is a really fascinating.

Vietti is well-known, and for a reason, and their Perbacco bottling always delivers for me. Sourced from 15 different crus in Barolo, and some in Barbaresco as well, this brings so much Nebbiolo depth and complexity to the table, but with openness and approachability that make it fun for all.

And the welcome outlier is the Rosso di Valtellina DOC from Tenuta Scerscé in Lombardy. This Nebbiolo is sourced from vineyards near the Rhaeitian Alps. The local clone, and the terroir and elevation, lead to a bright and zesty iteration.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.

2019 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Langhe Nebbiolo Martinenga Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
SRP: $26
Vibrant ruby color. The aromas show a delightful mix of cherries, raspberries, with sweet rose petals, some tobacco, cola, an overall inviting feel. The palate is zippy and fresh with smooth tannins and zesty acidity. Tangy cherry and sweet raspberry fruit, red apple peel, a nice crunchy mix of fruit with tones of rose petals, violets, potting soil, hints of cola. Accessible, refreshing and fun – a “house wine” case-buy candidate, or one I’d be happy to receive a big carafe of while dining out with friends. (90 points IJB)

2018 Enrico Serafino Langhe Nebbiolo Picotener Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
SRP: $25
Bright ruby color. The nose shows cranberry relish and sour cherries, along with rose petals, pepper, mint and some warm clay. Crisp and zippy on the palate, with dusty tannins that have some structure but rounded edges and flavors of cranberry and red currants. Notes of tar, tobacco, mint and iron add some complexity, and I get tones of coffee and dark chocolate on the finish as well. Delicious and quite a complex Nebbiolo for the price. (89 points IJB)

2019 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
SRP: $29
Deep ruby color. Aromas of warm cherries and raspberry compote, along with a floral potpourri of violet and rose petals, clove, sage and bay leaves. The palate shows a fresh and floral wine with moderate tannins and lively acidity, with crunchy raspberry and cherry fruit. Elements of mineral, tar, tobacco, dark earth, dried flowers, there’s just a lot going on here, and this has aging potential, too. A ton of Nebbiolo for the price. (91 points IJB)

2019 Tenuta Scerscé Rosso di Valtellina Nettare Italy, Lombardia, Valtellina, Rosso di Valtellina
SRP: $30
Crystal clear ruby color. Tart cherries, raspberries and red apple peel fruit on the nose with elements of tar and white pepper. On the palate, crisp and light with a tart, crunchy feel and dusty tannins. The fruit is crunchy and bright with red apple, cranberry and wild raspberry. Complexities of tobacco, mint and oregano are a lot of fun. This is crushable but shows solid complexity, and I appreciate this style and vibe. (89 points IJB)

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