While I enjoy the last warm sunny days of summer, cooler temperatures and fall wines like Nebbiolo paired with savory comfort foods like beef short ribs and polenta are on my mind.
This month the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel (#ItalianFWT) group also has fall on their mind as we lean into the cooler weather with Italian red wines. Join us on Twitter Saturday, September 1 at 11:00 am ET for the chat and check out more fall inspired Italian red wines at the end of this post.
Pinot Noir from Burgundy rates as one of my favorite red wines. Piedmont’s Nebbiolo has been compared to Pinot Noir in its pale almost translucent color in the glass, intoxicating aromas, structure, and complexity. Nebbiolo, like Pinot Noir in France, is considered to be one of Italy’s top red wines. I wanted to learn more about Nebbiolo and the wines made from this grape variety.
What I learned about Nebbiolo
- Nebbiolo (Nebby-oh-low)
- Nebbia means fog in Italian
- Nebbiolo is also known as Chievannasca, Picutener, and Spanna
- Flavor Profile: Cherry, raspberry, cranberry, anise, rose, violet, truffles, chocolate, smoke, leather, and tar
- It may look like a light-bodied wine in the glass, but Nebbiolo can have gripping tannins and high acidity making it a powerful, medium to full-bodied wine.
- Barolo and Barbaresco are two famous wines made from the Nebbiolo grape and known for their age-worthiness.
- Nebbiolo d’ Alba, Nebbiolo delle Langhe, Ghemme, and Gattinara are Nebbiolo based easy drinking and more afford wines produced in Piedmont.
- Nebbiolo only makes up about 8% of the grapes grown in Piedmont but is sparsely grown outside of Italy.
- Nebbiolo is a terroir-driven grape variety preferring hillside locations with southern exposure and clay and silt based soils.
- Food Pairings: Rustic Italian stews and slow braises, rich pasta, risotto, and polenta, truffles.
My Nebbiolo Tasting Notes
2013 Massolino Serralunga d’Alba Barolo DOCG
13.5% abv | $39.99 Costco | 100% Nebbiolo
Massolino is a family owned fourth-generation estate located in the center of the Serralunga d’Alba region. The estate owns 23 hectares of vineyards with mainly calcareous soils. The vines range in age from 10-55 years. The first year of production was 1911. Vinification and aging: fermentation and maceration lasting 15 days followed by aging in large oak barrels for at least 30 months and then placed in bottles to age for just over a year.
Pale garnet in color. Medium+ bodied, high acidity and tannins. On the palate cherries, raspberries, cinnamon, anise, herbs, and leather. Well balance and structured.
2011 Pio Cesare Barbaresco, DOCG
14.5% abv | $69.99 Total Wines | 100% Nebbiolo
Pio Cesare was founded in 1881 and is a fifth-generation owned estate located in the center of Alba. The estate owns 70 hectares of vineyards with hillside exposure in the Barolo and Barbaresco appellations. Of those 70 hectares, 26,90 hectares are in the Barbaresco region of which 14,04 hectares are planted with Nebbiolo for Barbaresco. The grapes come from family vineyards in Treiso and San Rocco Seno d’Elvio.
Vinification and Aging: Skin contact for 25-30 days in stainless steel tanks. Aging in oak “botti”(casks) for about 30 months with a small amount in French barriques.
Pale garnet in color. Full bodied, medium acidity and medium+ tannins. Notes of cherries, spice, violets and a hint of licorice. Nicely balanced with a velvety texture on the palate.
Nebbiolo with its richness, high acidity, and bold tannins pairs well with a rich braised pot of beef short ribs and a classic Italian side of polenta.
Beef Short Ribs
for the short ribs
- 1/2 cup pancetta, diced
- 2-1/2 lbs. boneless beef short ribs, cut in half
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/8 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette
- 2 28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes with their juice, crushed
for the topping
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
for the beef short ribs
- Preheat the oven to 375 F
- In a large Le Creuset dutch oven, sauté the pancetta over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season the beef short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Add them to the pot and brown the ribs on all sides.
- Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic slices and cook for another minute. Add the Piment d'Espelette and stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Remove the pot from the stove and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is super fork tender about 2-1/2 hours. Check the pot periodically, if it becomes too dry add a little water.
for the topping
- In a medium sauté pan, add the toasted pine nuts, panko and olive oil. Mix well and cook over medium low heat stirring until mixture is golden brown.
- Add the oregano and parsley, salt and pepper and mix. Warm for a few seconds. Remove from heat and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano. You do not want the cheese to melt into the mixture!
- Remove the pot from the oven and take the beef short ribs out of the pot and transfer the ribs to a plate with tongs. Cover the ribs with foil to keep warm.
- Using a large spoon, skim off any fat from the sauce. Add a 1/2 cup of water to the sauce and stir.
- Place 3-4 pieces of meat on a plate with polenta on the side and top with a ladleful of sauce. Sprinkle the panko herb topping over the dish.
For more Italian red wines for fall check out the posts of my fellow Italian Food, Wine, and Travel Group ~
Marcia at Joy of Wine reveals Lacrima – The Aromatic Jewel in La Marche’s Crown
Jeff at FoodWineClick gets real with his directive to Finish Up the Rosato, It’s Barolo Time!
Jennifer at Vino Travels introduces us to Badia a Coltibuono: Beginnings by Monks in Gaiole in Chianti
Jane at Always Ravenous is bringing in the new season by Leaning into Fall with Beef Short Ribs and Nebbiolo
Lauren, The Swirling Dervish, is our helpful guide to Transition into Fall with the Wines from Südtirol / Alto Adige
Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm crafts a tempting pairing of Pappardelle al Ragu Di Cinghiale and a Monsanto Chianti Classico
Camilla from Culinary Adventures With Camilla shares her secrets with A Few of My Favorite Fall Things: Truffles, Cheese, & Barolo
Katarina of Grapevine Adventures encourages readers to Welcome Fall with a Taurasi DOCG from Irpinia
Here on L’Occasion, we give you Wine To Match The Trees: 15 Italian Reds for Fall
Future #ItalianFWT Events
October 2018 (hosted by Gwendolyn of Wine Predator) Lugana
November 2018 (hosted by Katarina of Grapevine Adventures) Gaglioppo and Calabria
December 2018 (hosted by Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog) Italian Sparkling Wines