Here’s a Wine School problem for you: Barolo and Barbaresco are among the world’s most beautiful wines, made from the nebbiolo grape, which is known partly for a tannic austerity that can take years of aging to soften. The young Barolos and Barbarescos available in most wine shops won’t be ready to drink for several more years, while older examples are expensive and hard to find. How should we approach these wines?
The solution is to examine a close relative, Langhe nebbiolo, a wine from the same general area as Barolo and Barbaresco, but one that is usually softer and more accessible. Sometimes the grapes used for Langhe nebbiolo come from outside the limits of the more exalted appellations. Other times, they may come from the same vineyards as Barolo and Barbaresco but are taken from young vines or, for some other reason, do not make the cut to go into the grander wines.