Yesterday a whizz through some examples of Nebbiolo, one of the great red grapes of Italy, typically high in acidity and firm of tannin. The variety is not widely planted in South Africa (25.09ha at the end of 2011) but Morgenster in Somerset West and Steenberg in Constantia are two producers attempting to make serious versions.
We tasted blind to keep everybody honest. Until now, I’ve tended to think that the refinement achieved by the Italians would always elude local producers but the 2009 from Morgenster showed beautifully yesterday and we are perhaps not that far behind. My scores and tasting notes as follows:
Morgenster Italian Collection Nabucco 2009
Red and black cherry, Ceylon tea and a touch of shoe polish on the nose. Great fruit purity, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Long finish. Already quite approachable, however.
Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2006
Ripe black fruit and a touch of tarriness on the nose. Full bodied with fresh acidity and extremely firm tannins but satisfyingly so – still far from resolved.
M. Marengo Nebbiolo D’Alba Valmaggiore 2010
Red fruit and some potpourri on the nose. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Pretty although arguably lacks some concentration.
Morgenster Italian Collection Nabucco 2010
Red and black fruit, tomato cocktail plus some meaty, earthy notes. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Already drinking well.
Steenberg Nebbiolo 2009
No longer available.
Red and black cherry, violets and subtle oak spice. Medium bodied with fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Slight green edge on nose and palate.
M. Marengo Barolo Brunate 2008
The nose is not atypical of the variety but not particularly enticing with earthy, tarry and shoe polish notes. The palate shows dark fruit, fresh acidity and unyielding tannins – all a bit joyless.
John Loubser Garibaldi Nebbiolo 2009
Dark fruit and some mint on the nose and palate. Oak sits a little apart. I liked this wine a lot more in the context of last year’s CWG tasting where it offered a pleasing counterpoint to the other super-concentrated, super-extracted reds but here it looked a bit basic.
Steenberg Nebbiolo 2010
Dark fruit, toasty oak and overt mint on the nose and palate. Lacks some finesse.