Nebbiolo, the famous celebrity grape of Piemonte, north in Italy. Widely known for producing the king of wines; Barolo.
So when I saw this grape pop up on the label on one of my favourite producers in California, I had great expectations.
In 2010 Nebbiolo was grown on 5993 hectares of land, with only 457 hectares being outside of Piemonte. It’s a tricky grape, which it takes a lot to master. For instance, Nebbiolo grapes starts their annual growth cycle very early, and they are one of the last to ripen. They need natural shelter from winds, are very sensitive to wet weather and it’s picky on what soil it thrives in. And they can become extremely tannic if not tended to correctly, to mention a few things.
Jim Clendenen was a legendary winemaker from California, widely know for his Burgundy style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Unfortunately he suddenly passed away in May 2021, only 68 years old.
He had a love and passion for all things Italian, and especially wines. So in 1994 he decided to plant several Italian grape varieties in Santa Barbara, California. After years of tedious work the vines started to produce excellent grapes, especially the Nebbiolo variety.
The grapes behave differently in California, than in Piemonte, and Jim managed to produce a signature style Californian wine. The grapes are grown on a hill, with both wind, fog and long sunny afternoons. Stored 4 years in 500 liters Hungarian oak casks, where 1/3 is new oak. Unfiltered bottling and stored for one more year. First vintage (2000) was released in 2005, now we drink 2017. A remarkable wine from an iconic winemaker.