Columella, a Roman writer and narrator of agricolture issues, described the Nebbiolo grape in the first century AD, in his De Re Rustica essay on agriculture.
Commonplace describes Nebbiolo as genuinely being original from the town of Alba and the Langhe territories, but it appears instead to come from the Valtellina area. It is a prized grape variety, always deemed "difficult" to grow as it is very demanding when it comes to soil and microclimate and requires a lot of care. In return, it gives exceptionally high quality grapes, with a great balance between colour, body, acidity, aromas and alcoholic structure. It is vinified as a single varietal or in blend with small percentages of local varietals to produce superior, well-bodied wines with an attitude to defy ages. The current crops testify to a great evolution over time that has led to a drastic reduction and selection of suitable land for its cultivation; this is why Nebbiolo is considered the indigenous grape by definition, as well as a "terroir grape", because of its strong links to the territories where it is grown.
Nebbiolo is predominantly grown in Piedmont, but it can also be found in the regions and sub-regions of Valle d’Aosta, Valtellina, Franciacorta and Sardinia. Its berries are variably intense blue and form a thick bunch.
During the ripening process grapes get a bloom on their skin as if they were covered in mist. It is believed that the name “Nebbiolo”, which carries a close translation into the English terms “fog” or “mist”, derives from such a bloom. Alternative origins of the name relates both to its harvest time, which is late in Autumn when the mists are more commonly seen, as well as to the Latin word “nobilis”. Either way, “such grape is wonderfully vinous and makes a great wine which is prone to ageing and very potent.” so was described by Italian author De Crescenzi, in his masterpiece Ruralium Commodorum in Agronomy in 1304.
Nebbiolo varies according to the different terroir where it is grown, however, it shares its fineness, elegance and its way of being unmistakably. It is suitable for long ageing as it acquires those features that have been made it so celebrated as a refined and superb wine world wide. A highbred wine indeed!