Piedmont Wine Virtual Education with Ignoble Grapes

what is nebbiolo?
Different theories exist on the origin of the name of the nebbiolo grape. It most likely comes from the Italian word “nebbia", meaning fog. During harvest, the autumn fog slowly burns off during the day to provide cooler temperatures and slow ripening, known as grape hang time. Nebbiolo’s hauntingly beautiful aromas and flavors come from this phenomenon. Extended hang time also produce high levels of tannin and acidity – both important factors in the balance and ageability of nebbiolo wines.

Piedmont wine education – we’re goin’ virtual. Seize the moment – and, your glass!

Welcome to our first adventure in virtual wine education! Below, find information on our partners involved in this program, the wine education experience we’ll offer, and about the supplemental wines on offer.

To get this party started, I want to share a little about how we met…ah, the magic of Piedmont.

Introducing Sarah and Anna: Ignoble Grapes

Sarah of Ignoble Grapes came into my life in the summer of 2016. I was home with a newborn and she was here on her first Piedmont wine travel trip – I’d call it a life-changing summer for us both!

Lucky for me, she found my site and we were able to get her out on a Barolo wine tour. She was traveling solo that year and it can be a little difficult to accommodate solo travelers, not because we don’t want to, but there are resources constraints that can make it limiting, and that summer with a newborn, I was most certainly constrained – ha!

It all worked out perfectly as we paired Sarah with another group. I’ve now arranged programs for her over three trips and last year we even got to host her sister Anna.

Little did I know as our relationship was growing that they had serious wine education aspiration – beyond increasing their own knowledge. They had plans to bring wine curriculum to others by way of unique, educational in-home wine events.

Fast-forward to March 2020: they had a slew of in-person wine events on the schedule. Welcome, COVID-19. They are based in NYC, so I don’t need to tell you how that story ends. Except that we decided it didn’t have to end. So, here we are, bringing you a collection of virtual wine education sessions, starting with Piedmont as the first region.

Piedmont Wine Virtual Education

First, I am just going to say it. I’m not keen on the term, ‘virtual tasting’. How can you possibly replicate an in-person tasting experience without being able to experience the same bottle(s)? Someone new to the world of wine likely doesn’t have the experience to identify things like faults – there is nothing wrong with that. We all start at some point and generally aren’t familiar with faults.

If I tried to do a ‘virtual tasting’ 15 years ago, it’s unlikely I’d have realized a wine was off for any number of the potential reasons simply because I hadn’t had the exposure. And, in a group of more well-spoken winelovers, I’d like have been too intimidated to speak up. I’d have written off a specific wine or varietal as something I didn’t like. What a shame.

The program leads you in wine learnings

And, as noted above, the offered wines were selected as top examples, but please know that it is not required to have them and certainly not to open them all at once. I mean, I can drink, but four wines in a night with just another person or two, c’mon! Particularly without a Coravin.

If something tastes off to, ping us during the sessions about it. There is no greater opportunity for learning than when a faulty wine is present.

In addition to all this, we’re also throwing in some cooking classes with Chef Denise Pardini of Hotel Castello di Sinio (click for all our #CookingWithDenise recipes ). Denise and I started virtual cooking adventures during lockdown to explore pairings that are more accessible to folks outside of the area – beyond traditional Piemontese cuisine. We’ve been making some killer meals, so get ready!!!

Support the NYC Restaurant Community!

To support their local community, Ignobles and Sara Olocco are asking for a suggested donation to ROAR NYC, an organization raising funds to support individuals facing unprecedented economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Five percent of wine sales will be donated to ROAR.

Click for class details and to register.

The first will be our BYOB Aperitivo on May 30th, followed by Sara’s Native Grapes of Piedmont Masterclass on June 27th, and then our Nebbiolo Exploration: The Langhe.

Native grapes of piemonte

Piedmont Wine Education: About the bottles

For our first few sessions, we are starting you with a starter list of the usual suspects of Piedmont wine as well as some fun indigenous Piedmont varietal wines. If all goes well, we plan to do more sessions with and supplemental wine offers – the next to include Barbaresco, Barolo, and Riservas.

A reminder, all the wines we offer are specially selected as limited production, hard-to-find so that you can experience the Piedmont wine region right from home.

FREE SHIPPING ON 12+ Bottles! 

Click to order.

Franco Conterno Nebbiolo Sparkling Extra Brut (Metodo Classico) NV 

The Conterno family has been making wines in the Barolo winemaking area of Monforte since 1940, producing all the area’s most important grapes. Their Metodo Classico extra brut is 100 percent nebbiolo with second fermentation using the classic sur lie method for at least 40 months.

The wine shows hints of apple and dried fruit on the nose with lively flavor, good structure, and perfect acidity.

Cieck Sparkling Erbaluce (Metodo Classico) 2016

From the hills beyond Turin, the lesser-known erbaluce grape gives rockstar versatility making it gorgeous in all forms – still, sparkling, and passito. A refined, floral bouquet with a dry, fresh taste. Cieck’s Metodo Classico bursts with vibrancy and zest. For me, it’s sunshine in a glass.

Demarie Roero Arneis 2019 

Indigenous to the Roero, arneis means ‘little rascal’ in Piemontese dialect, which in this case describes an extrovert, a bit of a rebel – original with a certain charm level of charm. Ottimo.

The white arneis used to serve as a blending grape to soften nebbiolo; Roero producers could blend up to five percent in Roero Rosso / Riserva before its 2005 DOCG designation. The grape itself wasn’t used on its own until the 1990s when a small group of Roero producers decided to try to vinify it as a varietal wine. The experiment took off and now it’s a thing. Demarie is one of my favorite Roero producers, making a beautiful expression with good minerality and lively freshness – a great summer wine. If you get into arneis, try Demarie’s sparkling Metodo Classico Arneis For You. 

Negro Giuseppe Monsu Rosato (100% nebbiolo) 2019

It’s not summer without rosé! Rosato in Italian, these grapes come from the top Barbaresco cru of Monsu in the winemaking area of Neive. A light, fresh wine with just enough weight to make it a serious rosè. The producer sells very outside of Italy with nearly all of his sales right at the cellar door. Stock up for spring and summer!

Raineri Dolcetto DOCG Dogliani 2018

Dolcetto is an often-overlooked workhorse Piedmont grape. In the Langhe, many producers have replanted dolcetto vineyards with higher-yielding barbera and nebbiolo vines.

But, head down the road to Dogliani and you’ll find dolcetto magic in them there hills. And, this Raineri dolcetto an excellent example. 

Only about 5,000 bottles made from the family’s 35-year-old Zovetto vineyard. Vinification of only inox stainless steel to preserve the wine’s great fruit and freshness.

Cascina Gavetta Langhe Nascetta Comune di Novello DOC 2018

The story of nascetta gives a fascinating look at Piedmont wine. Indigenous to the Barolo winemaking area of Novello, the grape was thought to have died out after phylloxera hit as producers opted to replant more profitable grapes. In the 1990s, a Novello farmer came across a lone wild vine. After DNA analysis from Turin, the long-lost nascetta variety was again found. 

A small group of producers decided to formally bring it back as a varietal wine. A long time Novello-based family winery, this nascetta comes from a south-west facing vineyard giving excellent exposure. Fermentation and aging are exclusively in stainless steel. Only 1,000 bottles produced annually – rare and exclusive wine. The wine itself is an aromatic white showing notes of citrus and fruit on the nose with a rich, savory finish – great minerality and good aging potential.

Ca’ del Baio Langhe Riesling 2018 

The Grasso family’s Langhe Riesling is a passion project, born of love for this complex, aromatic white variety. For them it was never about replicating the great Alsatian or Mosel rieslings, but about seeing what they could cultivate it as a Piedmont wine in their Langhe hills. 

Their vines grow on the coolest, breeziest slopes, producing an intense and aromatic dry wine with fruity notes of pineapple and mango; delicate, elegant, and well-balanced acid / alcohol. The vines were planted in 2009 with 2011 the family’s first bottling. Each year their product gets more beautiful and sells out faster and faster, so get a few while they last! The wine was specifically requested by Sarah of Ignobles for this program! You’ll thank her after you try it. 

Crivelli Gringolino d’Asti 2018

One of Piedmont’s most ancient autochthonous varieties. A light red with violet and red fruit aromas. In the mouth it gives a perfect balance of tannin and acidity. Crivelli is a historical producer who interprets the grape in a masterful way with an expression of unique depth and structure – great with food. Super-versatile with tons of character.

Diego Morra Pelaverga 2019

A rare, top-quality black grape with production limited to only 18 hectares in the Barolo winemaking area of Verduno. Only about 14 producers make it, producing about 180,000 bottles of Verduno Pelaverga annually. 

A light-colored wine with distinctive aromas of strawberry, rhubarb, and Verduno’s signature white pepper notes. A great summer red and I also love it for Thanksgiving dinner – the Pinot noir qualities make it a great pair to turkey!

Piero Busso Barbera d’Alba Majano 2017

I only really took serious notice of Piero Busso wines about a year ago, but if you follow me on Instagram (especially Stories), you know I am now a certifiable fan girl. All the wines are just next level. 

A small family-owned Barbaresco winery in Neive, owned and operated by mom, dad, daughter, and son. When Sarah of Ignobles was back last year, I put a visit on her schedule as I was sure she’d love the wines. I was so beyond excited that she immediately requested Piero Busso wines in their program, starting with this Barbera d’Alba. A great example of a classic Barbera d’Alba from 15- to 30-year-old vines, aged in large oak casks. Full-bodied with fruity aromas reminiscent of cherry and cassis

E.Pira & Figli / Chiara Boschis Langhe Nebbiolo 2017

Oh, Chiara. Her wines are as magical as she is effervescent. Chiara was the lone ‘Barolo girl’ in the Barolo Boys movement that revolutionized area winemaking back in the early 1980s. In my humble opinion, Chiara’s Langhe Nebbiolo is one of the greatest examples of a “baby Barolo”. 

A baby Barolo is used to describe Langhe Nebbiolo that oozes the structure, character, and depth we love in a Barolo, but is just light enough to be appreciated younger. The locals may call dolcetto and barbera the everyday wine, but Langhe Nebbiolo is my daily red. 

Chiara only produces about 35000 bottles a year (that’s total production, including her Barolo) and consistently she sells out almost before the new vintage releases each year. That said, our allocation is extremely limited, so only two bottles per order – get ‘em while they last!

Ca’ del Baio Langhe Nebbiolo Bric del Baio 2018

One of my go-to wood-aged Langhe Nebbiolos. The grapes to make this wine come from a selection of the Grasso family’s top sites. Youngest daughter Federica shares hat the wine itself could easily be a Barbaresco. But her father, winemaker and family patriarch, Giulio Grasso loves it as a more serious younger drinking Langhe Nebbiolo.

Selected as a backup in case we run out of the Chiara Boschi’s Langhe Nebbiolo, given the limited quantity available. But, I say get at least one of each to experience both a baby Barbaresco and baby Barolo. You’ll only be sorry when you finish the last glass. 

Alberto Viberti Langhe Nebbiolo 2018

A young, up and coming winemaker of 21 years old making this nebbiolo from 25-year-old vines – planted before he was born! The wine only sees steel, offering a great style contrast with the richer, wood-aged Langhe Nebbiolo. 

Steel-aged nebbiolo wines tend to release earlier and drink fresher younger. A great summer red; for the best results, toss in the refrigerator for a little chill before opening.

Giacomo Fenocchio Langhe Freisa 2018

Langhe Freisa has become an obsession of mine in recent years. The grape is thought to be a parent of nebbiolo so it flourishes in the same terroir. That said, you don’t see as much Langhe Freisa anymore because people use the best would-be freisa plots for nebbiolo. 

These days, you see a lot of sparkling freisa, but I just love Langhe Freisa secco as it is so traditional and tells such a beautiful story of the Langhe right in the glass. Intense bouquet, spicy with good body, and beautifully balanced tannins

Luigi Oddero Barbaresco DOCG Rombone 2016

A great Barbaresco from a top cru that is approachable young, but can age for decades. Delicate, intense, and gentle aromas with scents of wilted rose, sweet spices, and fruit. Dry, soft, and velvety on the palate. Shows great finesse, balance, and elegance.

Follow Girl’s Gotta Drink and the rest of the gang on social media:

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