Country of origin: Italy
Berry color: Purple
Common synonyms: Spanna, Picoultener, Picotendre, Prunent, Chiavennasca
Comments: The TTB-approved prime name is Nebbiolo
Nebbiolo is considered the premiere varietal of northwestern Italy. It is believed to have been cultivated in the Langhe district before the fourteenth century. The earliest documentation (1303) is provided in Pier de’ Cresxenzi’s Ruralism Commodorum. A very late ripener, Nebbiolo is named for the fog (“nebbia”) that settles in the foothills during the late October harvest. In Italy, there are about 13,000 acres grown, with important plantings in the Piedmont region. There are also plantings of Nebbiolo in Australia, and in North and South America. In California, plantings are more prevalent in the Central Coast; they are scattered through the North Coast, Sierra foothills and the Central Valley.
Nebbiolo is a sprawling, vigorous, and open vine with low to medium basal bud fertility. Canes are slender and long, with strong tendrils that attach readily to wire, making shoot positioning and pruning difficult. Nebbiolo is often cane pruned due to low basal bud fertility. In warm districts spur pruning is effective. Canopy management consists of shoot positioning, top (and side) trimming, and sometimes leaf removal. Vines are usually cluster thinned.
Nebbiolo is notoriously difficult to grow and make into fine wine outside of its home region of Piedmont. Even so, Nebbiolo-based wines, acid and astringent in youth, evolve with maturation into some of the most well-structured, longest living, and richly scented wines. Historically, Nebbiolo’s relatively high acids, pronounced tannins, and long cool fermentations (up to two months in wooden vats) meant that the wine would need cellaring for several years before being considered ready to drink. Today, shorter fermentations with less time on the skins plus the use of small oak barrels for aging have made Nebbiolo a more satisfying wine. The wines have large amounts of tannins, but color often is lacking. Controlling crop load and fermentation temperatures seems to help develop better wine color.
Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis is the source of Foundation grapevine material for the nursery industry, and the staff can provide information about possible sources for obtaining this stock.
The National Grape Registry (NGR) contains information about varieties of wine, juice, and table grapes, raisins, and grape rootstocks available in the United States. Growers, nurseries, winemakers and researchers can find background information and source contacts for those grape varieties in this single convenient location.
|Publications||McGourty, G. 2003. Nebbiolo (PDF). Pages 102-105 in: Wine Grape Varieties in California. University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources Publication 3419, Oakland, CA. Buy book|