The pre-eminent wine of Italy, and possibly of all red wine, Nebbiolo has distinguished itself as one of leading varietals since first vintage, 1998. The style is inspired by Barbaresco in cultivation and aging, and the wine unfolds in bottle at the stately pace for which it is so greatly appreciated by connoisseurs, for the most savory pairings of meats and game.
Vinification: Fermentation 7-9 days on the skins in stainless steel. Maceration 10-15 days.
Composition: 100% Nebbiolo
Aging: 12 months, French oak barriques, new 30%, used 70%
Tasting Notes: Elegant and complex, aromatically enthralling depth of violets, forest loam, dark berry and tobacco notes. Full body, a firm, dense structure followed by a seamless, sustained finish.
Food Pairings: Oven roasted veal strip loin with ragù of fresh morels. Roasted rack of lamb with reduction of Nebbiolo and blackberry. Pan roasted duck breast with sauce of dried cherry.
Travels in Nebbiolo: Skepticism toward New World cultivation of Nebbiolo, and ours in Piedmont Virginia in particular, has been shattered in disconnected but consistent bits. Two fundamental misimpressions, that Nebbiolo is a chauvinist for its original region of cultivation, and that it defies wine growing science, we have been happy to refute. The vine clearly thrives best on the Guyot trellising system adopted for it in Piemonte, and it demands patience in its evolution throughout the growing season, which is embedded in Piemontese tradition. In these characteristics Nebbiolo does benefit from a loyalty to its culture in our Piemontese winemaker, Luca Paschina, and in our founder from the Veneto, Gianni Zonin. It is only fair to say this grape flourishes here in material part because it is understood. But its molecular profile, not the place where it is grown, and our observance of sound technique, are what preserve the grape's signature.It was not accident, then, which led our first vintage, the 1998 Nebbiolo Reserve, to win the only Gold Medal for this varietal at the San Francisco competition in 2002, as the 2005 vintage did again in 2009. Still, a skepticism persisted. Other wine competitions repeatedly awarded Gold Medals, but they were isolated events; and some courageous writers ventured to reverse their doubts in print, but in impermanent reviews. An important migration of the most esteemed grape in Italian viticulture continued to remain almost unperceived. Finally, 2015 brought a confluence of acclaim for several of this estate's Nebbiolo vintages at once, portraying the very high consistency of the adaptability of our soils and our oenological techniques in producing Nebbiolo which is simply world class. It is unquestionably, dependably one of this estate's finest offerings. Affirming the Chairman's Platinum Award for Nebbiolo Reserve 2012, at the Critics Challenge Wine Competition in 2015, critic Robert Whitley went beyond its 94 points to voice a generalization abundantly substantiated by prior history — "America's finest Nebbiolo is made in Virginia. Indeed, the Barboursville Reserve Nebbiolo could give the finest Barolos a run for their money." (May 26, 2015) In the next month (June 29, 2015), Robert Parker's famous online publication, The Wine Advocate, published for the first time in one place its own ratings of multiple vintages of the Nebbiolo Reserve, in this arresting sequence:
1998 - 91 points
2002 - 91 points
2008 - 91 points
2009 - 92 points
2010 - 89 points
At 17 years off the vine, that first vintage withstands the most critical scrutiny, as a fine Nebbiolo is supposed to do. Indeed, what underwrote Robert Whitley's declaration on the 2012 vintage was precisely the same compliment — "This wine will benefit from additional cellar time, with peak maturity still five to eight years off." Nebbiolo sets the standard of the continuum we hold in our sights for our very finest red wines, from Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon to Petit Verdot to Merlot to Octagon. It sets a standard in patience and vigilance we extend to growing all our wines, but like all of them, it is not a success we did not expect. It is extraordinarily resilient in our growing conditions, as the sequence of its success over many vintages demonstrates. It is not a mystery grape, Piedmont Virginia is not a mystery growing region. Possibly our Nebbiolo Reserve has settled that.