4 great Italian Nebbiolo wines of Barolo and Barbaresco

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I think wines should carry classification ratings with consumption guidelines, as is the case with movies and television. Simple, mass produced wines with their fruit-forward innocuous characteristics could carry a “general” rating.

Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio would have to carry an “x” rating given their consumption is something that should only be done in private between consenting adults (without later sharing the specifics with friends).

You get the drift? By any such measure the great Italian Nebbiolo wines of Barolo and Barbaresco must be “AO”: Adults Only.

Simply, the Nebbiolo grape and the magic it can deliver when grown in its native Piedmontese habitat is of such sensual and cerebral satisfaction, that wine newbies are unlikely to appreciate its complexity and flavours and might struggle to contextualise it vinously.

In brief, the great Baroli and Barbaresci have a style and flair that’s representative of all things great Italian: a cut as fine and perfect as a Canali jacket, the aromatic seduction of alba truffles, and with high performance palate operatics as satisfying as the aural pleasure of a Ferrari 488 in full cry. (Note to Ferrari importer, why not include a bottle with every new car delivery?)

The following wines are a ticket to pleasure. Enjoy with your partner of choice, who if sapiosexual, will dig these wines.

2012 Paolo Scavino Barolo RRP $94

The Scavinos set up shop in Piedmont in 1921. A great producer who has embraced the best of modern technology while maintaining their historic values and love for the terroir, elegance and regional tradition.

Just delicious straight out of the glass. Aromatic notes of dark chocolate and plum, the palate has the vitality of a toned athlete. Long, fruit coated tannins which close with a firm ever so slightly bitter full stop to clean it all up. Keep this away from the 'kids'.

Could drink this just about every night.

2012 La Spinetta 'Vigne Garretti' Barolo RRP $107

This domaine was created in 1977 by Giuseppe and Lidia Rivetti and has vineyards in Piedmont and Tuscany. From a 2.2ha vineyard, medium red with slight lightening at meniscus, typical of the variety and Barolo. Initial herbal and cool dark mint chocolate notes blossom into a complex bouquet of small red fruits, aniseed and minerality.

The palate has a red berry fruit dominating and which coat the tannins right through the long firm finish. Tightly wound in style, this demands - and deserves - some time in the cellar to reveal all.

2012 Massolino Barolo serralunga d’alba RRP $90

This is not a sipping wine. If you do sip, the light to medium body might well disappoint you. On the other hand, take a decent swig - no hardship at all - and allow the wine to remain in the mouth and all the sneaky complex intensity reveals itself. The bouquet is beautifully complex with notes of dark chocolate, herbs, dried meat and warm earthiness.

The palate is similarly interesting with its notes of dark red fruits and warm citrus and spice notes. Suave, easy to love and satisfying.

2012 Barbaresco Cantina del Pino RRP $86

Declaration: I’m having a real bromance with this producer: I’ve not been disappointed with any wine that I’ve tasted. Two weeks ago I raved about the Langhe Nebbiolo, This time the bigger bro Barbaresco steps up and is a big hit; if not a home run, at the very least a stand up triple. Medium bodied, the palate exhibits great tension with its lively almost juicy, small red berry fruit flavours, which are enhanced with notes of aniseed, dried meat and warm savoury minerality.

The structure with its excellent acidity and tannins give great shape and length to the lovely fruit. Just delicious and a bargain for the quality.

* Frank Wilden is a retail food strategist and a “lapsed” restaurateur whose love of wine began nearly four decades ago.

He believes that on the road to wine nirvana, if you don’t end up in Burgundy you have probably taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Frank is writing this fortnightly wine column for Business Insider Australia. Get in touch with him via @thefrankreport on Twitter.

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