Region: Gattinara DOCG, Piedmont, Italy
Grape: 100% Nebbiolo
Price: around $35
I spent last weekend in New York City and, while taking a walk in the East Village, I came across a wine shop. Well, this being a wine blog, you probably know where this is going right?
I went in, browsed a little bit and then found a pretty well stocked Italian section. I had a pretty good Gattinara recently and so, when I saw another wine from that DOCG I was intrigued. When I saw the vintage and the price I was more than intrigued, and after that it was a matter of paying, going home and getting a couple wine glasses.
I wasn’t going to let an occasion to drink some good Nebbiolo pass, especially an older vintage. Nebbiolo is a wine that tends to ages beautifully and reveal itself more and more as time passes. I was excited to try it for myself. In terms of ageing, this particular wine spent 3 years in oak barrels, pretty much on par for the course.
Eye: pale garnet, orange- brownish rim, typical of older Nebbiolos
Nose: Clean, intense, red fruit (raspberries, cherries) with a distinct tar smell and some pot-pourri like flowers.
Palate: Dry, medium-plus acidity, medium-plus body, very soft and smooth tannins, long finish with coffee notes
The contrast with the Travaglini is immediate. I described Travaglini as a denser, more intense Pinot Noir, this Petterino is nothing like that. There are still red fruits aromas, raspberries and dark cherries but all is underlined by intense earthy flavors such as leather or tar. The tannins are present but extremely well rounded which makes the wine extremely easy drinking. Even 15 years in, the acidity is still there. The final is very long and offers notes of coffee. It’s incredible to see how different 2 two wines from the same town can be. Of course the age (2007 vs 2000) might be a factor, but it remains such a huge gap. Two completely different experiences.
Food pairings: I had it on its own but it would work well with any meat dish or even game. It would definitely hold its own. Some of the aromas might seem a bit funky to pair with food (tar for instance).
Overall opinion: Once again, Nebbiolo doesn’t come cheap and even if Gattinara is an affordable alternative, I was still surprised to get a bottle this old for this price. I’d say it is closer to the traditional image of a Nebbiolo with the pale garnet color and the strong tar notes on the nose. I would also recommend trying it if you can put your hands on it; it gives a totally different perspective on the grape than the Travaglini.