Nebbiolo is widely recognized as one of the world’s greatest red wine grapes. At its best, Nebbiolo is utterly intoxicating with an ethereal palate, mind boggling complexity and tremendous thrust. For these reasons, we are extremely passionate about the wines of Barolo, Barbaresco and the Alto Piemonte but there are many puzzling, unanswered questions surrounding this extraordinary grape.
While most of the world’s greatest grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have found very successful homes in the New World, Nebbiolo has not achieved the same level of success outside of its ancestral vineyards. While some may speculate that this is due to a requirement for a specific soil type only found in a region such as Barolo, this is clearly not the case as within Italy Nebbiolo has made acclaimed wines from many very different soils for decades or even centuries.
So if Nebbiolo can succeed on diverse soils, what could it possibly need that the New World can’t provide? The answer is – Nebbiolo has very specific climatic requirements that do exist outside of Italy but they are quite rare. The most important of these requirements is a hard to find combination of cool days and warm nights. The vast majority of the vineyard locations in the New World have conditions that are the exact opposite, warm days and cold nights.
With this insight and a great deal of climatic data, we began to search California for an area that could mimic the climate of Nebbiolo’s greatest regions. Our search led us to a remote, high altitude ridgetop close enough to the ocean but sheltered from its coolest influences. While the altitude helps moderate any daily high temperatures, the top of California’s coastal mountain range also experiences comfortably warm nights in the summer. The result was nearly a perfect match to Nebbiolo’s most acclaimed locations.