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2021 Nebbiolo "Carbonico"

New wine alert! We combined a true carbonic fermentation of our Nebbiolo lasting 8 days, followed by 6 days of fermenting on skins, and then pressed our 2021 Nebbiolo grapes and finished it like a rosé. That means you get some of the fun fruit of carbonic - but not too much bubblegum. You get some of the tannin and grip Nebbiolo is famous for - but not too much. The carbonic and stem also temper Nebbiolo's sometimes razor-like acidity. Think of a really fruit-forward Langhe Nebbiolo - fun, but food friendly too!


91 points - Wine Enthusiast magazine


The deep dive:

So what exactly is carbonico anyway? It is Italian for carbonic fermentation, that peculiar process made famous by Beaujolais Nouveau, and mimicked by endless natural wine disciples today. It is a peculiar process in which whole grapes bunches are left uncrushed, and either blanketed by carbon dioxide or other crushed grapes. The key is to exclude oxygen which then creates a peculiar intracellular enzymatic fermentation that does not involve yeast. It only reaches about 2% alcohol, then the grapes must be crushed (or break on their own) and then you must proceed as a white or red wine with a standard yeast-driven fermentation. It usually results in tuity fruity flavors – not my favorite. I sealed the whole bunches of Nebbiolo in a tank and added dry ice, where they sat for eight days. The grapes turn a weird dark color and are filled with fizzy CO2, which is how you know that they have done the carbonic thing. I then shoveled them into bins, crushed them by foot as if making a normal red wine, and left them on the skins and stems for 6 days to get that classic Nebbiolo tannin and color. I then pressed them at about 5% alcohol, and then finished the partially fermented juice like white wine for the next 16 days until it was dry. Carbonic fermentation and stems also reduce acidity, which allowed more tannin, and is why this drinks like a red wine and not a tannin-free rosé.


So, now we get to the important question: why sacrifice precious Nebbiolo grapes, which we rarely get a good crop of, to a more casual red wine here and some to the Bianco? Well, 2021 was the hottest vintage in history for Lake County, equaling parts of Lodi. It was apparent that the Nebbiolo ripening curve was way way way off with skronky tannin, paper-thin skins, poor color, and too much vine stress to develop into a noble red – plus we have a pretty good full-on red Nebbiolo already that is aging beautifully – pro tip: try them side by side. I had wanted to try this for a while with Nebbiolo, so here was the perfect opportunity.


Please note – it may look like a rosé, but it really isn’t. It should be served cool at about 50-55F, like 20 minutes in the refrigerator cool, but definitely not cold, so please do not chill like a rosé or white wine. It is much closer to a Langhe Nebbiolo red wine than any of our pink wines, and it has a good amount of tannin which is not super friendly when cold. Treat it like a light red with snacks and be rewarded.


Label image: Johann Mylius’ Philosophia Reformata from 1622 is a frequent flyer with Prima Materia, also featuring in our Vermentino label. This particular image focuses on multiplication. “Each time the fixed stone is redissolved in the Mercury upon which it feeds, it augments in weight, volume and power. Each rebirth…a tenfold increase in power.“

2021 Nebbiolo "Carbonico"


12 bottle discount = 20%

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