Ahhhhh Nebbiolo. A varietal that has equally transfixed and mystified winemakers, growers, and consumers alike. Aptly named for the swathes of mist that drape over the low lying hills of its hometown, but also for the white-ish spools that bloom on its thick skin, its expression is synonymous with some of the most prized delicacies in the world; truffles, hard cheeses, roses.
It grows best on mineral-poor soil, clay-and-limestone interspersed with sand. It flowers early but ripens late, demanding sunshine and warmth without excessive heat. It is tannic, full of seductive perfume and as explained, notoriously fussy to grow, and though it is used most famously in its hometown within Barolo, Barbaresco and the Langhe, the grape has been coaxed into wine all over the world. South Africa, Oregon, and more and more recently, Australia.
Like when the French flirted Pinot Noir into our landscapes and obsessed us throughout the 80’s, Italian immigration spread like wildfire and with it the appreciation for Nebbiolo. Australians entranced by its magic and depth and tricked into thinking it would be easy with our non-stop sunshine, have been trying for years to perfect the style. Amongst the Nebb-obsessed are Luke Lambert, Owen Latta, L.A.S. Vino and now the subject of this month’s Borough Box, David Caporaletti from Architects of Wine, have all fallen deeply under the spell, and to much growing appreciation, understanding and finally, expression in the glass.
"David’s wines are lightly sulphured, and there are no other additions to the ferments, making them wines of “minimal intervention”. They are a classic drinkers perfect answer to natural wine"
Though the Adelaide Hills isn't an obvious first-association home for Nebbiolo, the range of high elevation sites and fluctuating temperatures has opened the door to some rather special sites for this grape to find a home. Though initially a “bucket wine” enthusiast, David’s passion for Italian varietals and specifically, Nebbiolo, has grown to him searching for better fruit across a range of organic sites within the Clare Valley and the Adelaide Hills.
David’s day job as an architect is uniquely present in the wines through and through. He obsesses over his single barrel, single-vineyard Nebbiolo's with meticulous selection, but allows us a peak into his obsession through his gateway expression called “Normale”. David’s wines are lightly sulphured, and there are no other additions to the ferments, making them wines of “minimal intervention”. They are a classic drinkers perfect answer to natural wine. The “Normale” Nebbiolo that you will see in your glass, has all the adolescence and promise of a more serious Nebbiolo; a haunting bouquet speckled with violets, campfire, bitumen and undergrowth. However, with all this complexity, it still remains incredibly drinkable. Bright with acid and flirty in length, the wines coming from this winemaker show a future that will only continue to impress, so enjoy this whilst you can get your hands on it.
Architects of Wine "Normale" was featured in our April box. If you're excited to try more exhilarating wines like this, sign up here.