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Bruno Rocca Coparossa Barbaresco 1998
Often compared to Barolo but worthy of its own separate conversation, Barbaresco is home to the softer side of Nebbiolo. For a long time, consumers viewed Barbaresco as a more affordable alternative to the wines of neighboring Barolo, but advances in viticulture and resulting improvements in quality have allowed this region to build a superior reputation all its own. With a warmer, drier, and milder climate and compact, fertile soils, the wines here are powerful yet soft, fruit-forward, and elegantly perfumed. Barbaresco needs some time to mature before being ready to drink, but less so than Barolo, and the typical bottle is best enjoyed between five and 15 years from the harvest.
Barbaresco wines are highly aromatic and complexly flavored, with notes of rose petal, cherry, strawberry, violets, and spice. Bottle aging can add more savory characteristics of iron and tar, as well as dried orange peel. Four villages within the Barbaresco DOCG zone can produce Barbaresco: the actual village of Barbaresco, as well as Neive, Treiso and San Rocco Seno d'Elvio.
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area as well as in neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it is at its best in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo is a finicky grape, and needs a very particular soil type in order to thrive. Outside of Italy, it often fails to show the captivating aromas for which it is so beloved, but some success has been achieved in parts of California.
In the Glass
Nebbiolo is an elegant variety with mouthwatering acidity and a compelling perfume of rose petals, violets, fresh tar, licorice, clay, and dried cherries. Light in color and body, Nebbiolo is a more powerful wine than one might expect, and its firm tannins typically need time to mellow. With age, it develops a velvety texture and a stunningly complex bouquet.
Nebbiolo’s love affair with food starts in Piedmont, which is home to the Slow Food movement and some of Italy’s best produce. The region is famous for its white truffles and wild boar ragu, both of which make for excellent pairings with Nebbiolo.
If you can’t afford to drink Barolo and Barbaresco every night, try the more wallet-friendly, earlier-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba. Also search out the fine offerings of the nearby Roero region. North of the Langhe and Roero, find earthy and rustic versions of the variety (known here as “Spanna”) in Ghemme and Gattinara.