Jan 28, 2024Mads Nyvang

The Nebbiolo grape is the king of all grape varieties in Italy. On a global scale, the Nebbiolo grape is highly recognized for being the grape variety used to make great and complex wines. The grape is known, among other things, for being the grape behind Barolo and Barbaresco, which are always made from 100% Nebbiolo.

In the new world, many wineries have tried to make similarly great wines from the Nebbiolo grape over the last few years. Time has shown that Nebbiolovine is best made in its home country of Italy. One of the reasons for this is that it is very difficult to work with, as it is sensitive to wind and weather, which can damage the grape. The climate is therefore an important factor when making wines at Nebbiolo.

Nebbiolo - Piedmont's king grape

Nebbiolo is a blue grape variety that originates from Piedmont, Italy's northeastern region, where it has helped create world-famous wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. The grape has a thick skin, but unlike f.e.g Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, which is known from Bordeaux in France, is not quite as dark red or purple in colour.

The Nebbiolo mist

Nebbiolo is said to derive from the Italian term for fog, nebbia, which usually occurs in autumn when the grapes are ripe and ready to be harvested. The mist helps to cool down the bunches of grapes, which prolongs their ripening time and concentrates the flavor intensity.

Geography and Climate

Nebbiolo is a very sensitive grape variety, which is why it is rarely found outside of Piedmont and even more rarely outside of Italy.

The majority of Nebbiolo wines are produced in Piedmont in northern Italy. Here, the vines must be planted on the best south-facing slopes - preferably at an altitude of 150-300 meters above sea level. It does well on a variety of soil types, but it excels especially on clay and limestone.

Differences and similarities between Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir

The Nebbiolo grape is partly reminiscent of the French wonder grape Pinot Noir; it is incredibly difficult for growers to grow as it blooms early in the season and matures late. It is therefore not possible to grow the grape in climates where spring frost is a recurring event.

Outside Piedmont, no one has been able to produce a decent Nebbiolo in the same way as the Pinot Noir grape, which is behind high-quality wine in both the New and Old World.

Barolo and Barberesco

Barolo and Barbaresco are both made from 100% Nebbiolo grown in the Piedmont region. They each belong to their own DOCG appellation, which ensures Italian wine of the highest quality. The difference in aging periods is one of the ways in which Barolo wine differs from Barbaresco wine. A Barolo wine must age for at least three years from the year in which it is harvested, with 18 of those months being in barrel before it is released. A Barbaresco wine must only age for two years, of which 9 months must be in barrel.

The difference between the two styles in taste

Barbaresco is often somewhat softer in character and becomes ready to drink earlier than Barolo does. Although Barolo is the king of Italian wines, they are not necessarily superior to Barbaresco - it is always a matter of taste. Both wines are good bets if you are looking for a special red wine.

The modernists vs. The Traditionalizers

The Piedmontese rivalry between so-called traditionalists and modernists has been called one of the greatest in the history of wine.

The traditionalists

The old Barolo producers (the Traditionalists) have always made their wines in a unique way with a long maceration period (where the must is in contact with the grape skins) to extract as much color, flavor and tannin as possible.

The storage has always taken place in large and old oak barrels, where they have been allowed to mature for a long time. In the past, the wines were stored for up to ten years before they were released. However, this is no longer the case.

The Modernists

The younger generation of producers considered the old traditional method to be outdated and too expensive to use because the wine had to age for a long time before it could be sold and consumed. The modernists argued that to keep up with the times, the best way forward was to shorten the maceration period and produce more drinkable wines to be aged in small French barriques modeled after the Bordeaux style.

Barolo wines from modern producers will usually be ready to drink 6-10 years after the harvest year, while it can take 12-15 years for a traditional Barolo wine to fully express itself. When you buy Barolo, it is therefore a good idea to research the producer and the production process.

How do Nebbiolo wines taste

Wines made from the Nebbiolo grape, which for example Barolo and Barbaresco can provide some of the greatest and most unique taste experiences. Nebbiolo wines are known to have aromatic notes of tar and roses, which may sound a little strange to many, but that's the way it is.

There are also often aromas of dark berries such as cherries, raspberries and currants as well as chocolate, violets, spice and pepper depending on the vintage, producer and region.

Nebbiolo wines typically have a high acidity with large amounts of tannins, which helps make the wine a fantastic food wine.

Nebbiolo and food

Nebbiolo wines, including both Barolo and Barbaresco, are real food wines. The obvious choice to combine with these wines is mushrooms and truffle. Piedmont is known for their truffles, and this type of red wine goes exceptionally well, as the fine character of tannins and acidity combined with the notes of cherries and roses, play the truffle up to unprecedented levels.

It would be obvious to serve this type of red wine with a mushroom risotto with the mushrooms that are good in that season.

Dishes with red meat, lamb and game will also be fine to serve when you want to drink a good wine with good food. Boiled meat dishes can also be used in the autumn season.

The wines can also be combined with firm cheeses without much sweetness. If the cheese is too sweet, the wine's acidity will give the combination a skewed balance.

You can generally combine wines from the Nebbiolo grape with a wide range of dishes. If you eat chicken or the like, you should not be nervous about opening a good wine at Nebbiolodrue.


Wines from the fantastic Nebbiolo grape are popular figures for reviewers such as James Suckling and Robert Parker. These two distinguished gentlemen, and a host of other wine writers, keep a close eye on these wines, which they often give rave reviews for their complex style, which stems from the climate that uniquely embraces this grape.

Buy Nebbiolo wines at Bottles with History

At Bottles with History we have Denmark's largest selection of wines made from the Nebbiolo grape from over 50 different vintages. We are experts in vintage wines, where Barolo and Barbaresco in particular are a great love for us.

We have many skilled wine producers in our range. If you are looking for a top producer such as Conterno, Gaja or Marchesi di Barolo from Piedmont, we always have a wine from these wineries - even in many different vintages.

Our range also includes super Tuscans such as Sassicaia and Tignanello as well as the big French names such as Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux, Romanée Conti and Petrus.