Nebbiolo from.. Mexico?!

Posted on January 23, 2009



Nebbiolo is the great italian grape.  Barolo and Barberesco are the big hitters from Piedmont in this category.  There is Nebbiolo d’Alba as well.  There are other italian blends containing Nebbiolo, I haven’t had the opportunity to get into them.  A great Barolo is a thing of beauty.  I could wax poetic for days about the floral, herbal and fruit qualities of the nose, the play of blackberry and black tea on the palette.  Oh wait I think I already have in an earlier tasting note.  I’ll spare your eyeballs the assault.  Nebbiolo hasn’t been successfully cultivated outside of Piedmont with much success. The combination of sun facing slopes and specific aspects of the climate there allow for what seems like perfect ripeness and acidity levels.  Niagara’s own Ridgepoint wines did a Nebbiolo in 2002 which was fantastic but as I understand the vines were ravaged the following winter.

So, when I was walking through the LCBO the other day looking for something interesting the LA Cetto 2003 Nebbiolo Reserve Privee caught my eye for two reasons.  One, it’s from Mexico.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a mexican wine!  Second, it’s a Nebbiolo from outside of Italy.  Oh, and the best is #3 – under 20 bones.

VINTAGES 590182 | 750 mL bottle  

Price: $ 18.95 
Wine, Red Wine, 
14.0% Alcohol/Vol.

 I wasn’t expecting to like this wine.  At all.  The nose showed some of the traditional Nebbiolo characteristics – black tea, dried black cherries, hint of violet and some earthy undertones. I don’t know how else to describe the nose but a little brash. Forward. One thing I’ve always loved about barolo is the feeling of polished elegance.  I feel like that’s in the glass somewhere, just buried.  It’s like that older sophisticated gal you see at the Chick ‘n Deli who’s a more than a little tipsy – she’s much more forward than she ought to be and she has lost much of her polished sophistication, so when she slathers her affections on you it feels a little wrong but she’s hot and…. wait where was I?  Oh yes – things get more interesting on the palette.  

Cherry and some almost blackberry flavours up front, a nice transition that makes me think a little of black licorice, and then very herbal tea-like flavours moving into the finish. Long finish that’s grapey with herbal and almost floral notes. Swallow one piece of black licorice, eat a ripe red table grape, drink a little black tea and chew on a rose petal.  Wait 2 mins and there’s your finish here.  There’s some heat in the back end that makes it feel a little disjointed, but it passes quickly.

I didn’t expect to like this one, I really didn’t.  It does feel a little brash, but you know what after a little time in the glass it sobers up.. erm.. calms down.. and some of that sophistication I was expecting appears.  All the Nebbiolo characteristics are there and overall a pretty balanced wine.  For 18 dollars, this is tremendous value – find a barolo or barberesco of this quality you’re most likely in the 30+ range.  Do yourself a favour, pick one up with some great hard cheese and italian cured meats, and enjoy with the ones you love!

Posted in: tasting notes