We’re officially into fall, so let’s talk about fall wines! For September’s Wine Club selection, we’ve decided to choose 2 wines from a region we love, Piedmont, which happens to have a special relationship with the changing of the seasons.
Fall means harvest time for grapes (and many other crops). It also means changing temperatures and shorter days. In some parts of the world, this change happens slowly and regularly, and the weather remains fairly constant. In other parts, the transition from blistering summer days to crisp fall ones seems to happen nearly overnight.
A Quick Autumn
In Piedmont, especially in the northern part at the foothills of the Alps, take this a step further. Fall comes and goes quickly. The harvest happens, and in some years, producers barely have enough time to press and begin fermentation before the temperature drops so low that without temperature controlled tanks, fermentation stalls.
This stalling of the fermentation, until recently, made nebbiolo based wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco essentially not ready to be enjoyed without decades of aging in the bottle. Though a fairly thin-skinned grape, nebbiolo has extremely high tannin content. A stalled fermentation lengthens the maceration time, leading to wines so rough and grippy they’re undrinkable young (an otherworldly textured when mature). Some producers still follow very traditional methods and forgo the use of temperature control measures, so there are still plenty of Barolos and Barbarescos that need 20+ years to reach they’re potential.
The Little Foggy One
Throughout much of the Langhe, a part of Piedmont home to significant nebbiolo plantings, stunning fog forms from about the middle of the growing season through the harvest. Not only is this phenomenon gorgeous, but it has an effect on the grapes. Without the fog, growers would not be able to plant nebbiolo at lower altitudes in the valleys, making much more of the land available for growing.
The fog helps protect the thin-skinned nebbiolo from too much direct sunlight and heat. It also helps maintain a more constant temperature through the later part of the growing season into the harvest. And in what seems like a poetic choice by nature, nebbiolo also forms a thin “fog,” or powdery bloom, on its skin during harvest. These two facts together are how nebbiolo got its name. It literally translates to “the little foggy one”.
While nebbiolo is Piedmont’s most famous grape, it’s neither the only one grown there, nor the most planted. In fact, it’s less than 9% of the overall plantings. We love all the grapes of Piedmont, from the juicy barbera to the earthy dolcetto. Have a look back our at piece on lesser known Piedmontese varietals from last year.
Albino Rocca 100% Chardonnay 2017
This clean, fresh expression of the grape shows little resemblance to decadent California chardonnays you may be used to. If you like Chablis, you will love this! It’s herbal, zesty, minerally and tart and pairs wonderfully with a salad of fall vegetables tossed in a light vinaigrette.
Nino Costa 100% Nebbiolo 2016
We couldn’t spend so much time discussing nebbiolo and not include one in the release! This wine epitomizes a wine full of the flavors of fall. Get excited for aromas of rose petals, forest floor, cloves, orange peel and dried red cherries and strawberries. You can hold this wine 5 to 8 years if you’d like, or enjoy slightly chilled this fall. Pair with herb roasted poultry and fall veggies alongside fingerling potatoes.