Nebbiolo. The most fickle of grapes. A hundred times more difficult than Pinot Noir in the vineyard, and bizarre in the cellar. Frustrating and maddening in California. We can find a few fun and charming Nebbioli out of the 40 or so California bottlings from diverse, altitude-heavy locations such as Amador, west-side Paso, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, and a couple other places. But profound, Barolo-esque Nebbiolo in California can be counted on one hand however, and consistency is nonexistent. Such is the maddening and wonderous nature of Nebbiolo.
We planted 100 of these vines in 2010 and 300 in 2011. 3 different clones on three different rootstocks were randomized for planting, the exact opposite of our Sangiovese approach. The trellis is extra-tall to manage Nebbiolo’s 15’ canes and crazy growth, fruit thinning and handwork is non-stop ideally.
The wine: downright pleasant, smelling like Oregon Pinot with candied cranberry and marionberry, Nebbiolo cinnamon and modest tannin for Nebbiolo, but still way dry. Acid is lowish for this high-strung grape. This is my 9th vintage of Nebbiolo, and no vintage resembles any other, each one being totally unique unto itself. This is an iteration of Nebbiolo by way of warm California, not Piemonte.
Label image: Johann Mylius’ Philosophia Reformata from 1622 is a frequent flyer with Prima Materia. 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.“