Red, Ready, but will keep

2015 Nebbiolo d'Alba, Cornarea, Piedmont

2015 Nebbiolo d'Alba, Cornarea, Piedmont

Red | Ready, but will keep | Cornarea, Piedmont | Code:  44200 | 2015 | Italy > Piedmont > Nebbiolo d'Alba | Nebbiolo | Medium Bodied, Dry | 13.5 % alcohol

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The Producer

Cornarea, Piedmont

Cornarea, Piedmont

The Bovone family herald from Ovada where they were wine merchants until Gian Piero Bovone bought the Cornarea estate back in 1974. Having studied oenology, Gian Piero had figured out that reductive winemaking was the key to successful white winemaking and so invested in the single vineyard of 15 hectares overlooking the small town of Canale. He then had the foresight to replant almost the entire hill to the white Arneis grape, culminating, in 1981, with their first single varietal wine.

Drinking Cornarea's medium bodied Arneis one's struck, not just by the fresh acidity (there's no malolactic conversion) but by its wet stone minerality that stylistically sits somewhere between Chablis and Vermentino. And such is the significant (phenol) extract and old vine fruit that this wine should age beautifully, as a tasting of 1983 clearly showed.

The key to Cornarea's high quality white wine Arneis DOCG (in north-west Piedmont in Italyis the territorio/terroir: 30 million year old Miocene former sea bed soils rich in marine fossils and magnesium. In fact so rich is the soil in magnesium that a couple of doctors from nearby Canale made their fortune selling salt of magnesium, dug up locally, as a remedy during the late 19th century.
  
But Cornarea aren't just about Arneis, for they also have 3 hectares of Nebbiolo; fruit that Gian Piero's son and oenologist, Gian Nicola, transforms into Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC  and Roero DOCG wines - very elegant, feminine styles, laced with silken tannins. A perfect reflection of the flour-like soils and rolling hills.

The Grape

Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is the grape behind the Barolo and Barbaresco wines and is hardly ever seen outside the confines of Piedmont. It takes its name from "nebbia" which is Italian for fog, a frequent phenomenon in the region.

A notoriously pernickety grape, it requires sheltered south-facing sites and performs best on the well-drained calcareous marls to the north and south of Alba in the DOCG zones of Barbaresco and Barolo.

Langhe Nebbiolo is effectively the ‘second wine’ of Piedmont’s great Barolo & Barbarescos. This DOC is the only way Langhe producers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style. Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be cut with 15% other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto.

Nebbiolo flowers early and ripens late, so a long hang time, producing high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins; the challenge being to harvest the fruit with these three elements ripe and in balance. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are perfumed with aromas of tar, rose, mint, chocolate, liquorice and truffles. They age brilliantly and the very best need ten years to show at their best.

The Region

Nebbiolo d'Alba

Nebbiolo d’Alba, a historical Italian wine DOC created in 1970, is synonymous with the crunchier Nebbiolo wines of the Roero region, north of the river Tanaro.

This DOC can be applied to all wines lying outside the Langhe region (ie Barolo Barbaresco), of which the sandier Roero makes up the largest part.

Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC has to be 100 percent Nebbiolo, and must be aged for 12 months prior to release. Notwithstanding the DOC restrictions, several prominent Barolo and Barbaresco producers invested in Roero Nebbiolo vineyards during the 1990s, such as Valmaggiore.

It is not uncommon for Langhe producers to supplement their Langhe Nebbiolo fruit with that bought from the Roero.

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