A new grape variety in Barolo!
Perhaps I have a short attention span and crave the new, perhaps I feel that the best and most interesting wines are still out there? Whatever the reason I love stumbling across a new grape variety.
Yesterday I found one from Piedmont that is pretty exciting. Piedmont is by and large famous for red wines, there are good whites that have some fame; Moscato in Asti and Alba, Sauvignon and even some Riesling in Langhe. Langhe though has more success with Chardonnay, particularly unoaked versions in my opinion – they are wonderful with cheese. There is also the Favorita and the Arneis of course, I want to like these grapes as I love the idea of them, but they really leave me cold when I try them.
Of course the most famous dry white wine of the region from indigenous varieties is Gavi and Gavi di Gavi made from the Cortese grape. The flaw with this is that traditionally Gavi was part of Liguria, seemingly it is only in Piedmont for modern political reasons and in truth Gavi as a quality wine only dates back to the 1960s anyway.
So then, what did people in the village of Barolo do in the past when they wanted to drink something that was not red and tannic? Well, it seems that they sipped some Nascetta.
This is a grape variety indigenous to Barolo itself and is seemingly related to the Vermentino. Back in the past growers were less fussy about what grapes they grew, if indeed they knew at all and it is often surprising to a modern consumer how recent the relationship between some Italian regions and their key grape really is. So, before Nebbiolo was considered the only grape to be grown in Barolo it appears that Nascetta shared the hallowed ground.
It has since virtually died out, but was kept alive for experimental reasons by the University of Turin and is currently enjoying something of a very modest renaissance and has been replanted by 6 growers within Barolo. Of course it cannot be called Barolo, so the D.O.C. of Langhe is available to it, but at the moment Nascetta is not a permitted grape, so it is labelled as a Langhe Bianco. I understand that from the 2010 vintage Nascetta is a permitted varietal in the Langhe D.O.C.
I was fortunate enough to get to try the example made by Rivetto, they create some superb Barolos and Barbera, as well as Nebbiolo d’Alba, but it was the Nascetta that captured my imagination yesterday:
Rivetto Matirè 2008
Langhe Bianco, 100% Nascetta
The Matirè vineyard was only planted in 2005 and the 2008 is only the second vintage and the first to be exported
The nose is delightfully fragrant and honeyed with mineral notes and wafts of ripe melon.
The aromatics put me in mind of a very good Albariño or even a steely Riesling.
The palate is well structured with good weight and texture, succulent and fleshy white peach characters balanced by lovely fresh acidity. It is very well balanced with the touch of oak just adding richness and complexity rather than obvious oaky characters.
This is a very attractive and expressive wine with a pure minerality on the finish.
I genuinely liked this wine very much indeed and would love to try it with a meal. The whole wine struck me as being somewhat akin to a very fine Godello, but with more minerality and finesse.
Available from Ellis of Richmond.