Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC: A good or a bad idea?

Apparently, a proposal has recently been made to allow Nebbiolo as part of the Piemonte DOC, where it has so far not been permitted. Kerin O’Keefe thinks it is an awful idea, as does the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo, Barbaresco, Alba, Langhe e Dogliani. See here:

What would be your take?

The article says the request came from Asti/Monferrato consorzio.

Personally I’m not someone who would set out to buy a Piemonte DOC (and arguably I think it really should be a Piemonte IGT to give it a chance to encompass some more revolutionary wines, rather than just volume wine for the supermarkets).

I’m not as concerned, and what concern I do have is that it may take Asti/Monferrato in a backwards direction, away from grapes better suited to their sites. Barolo / Barbaresco will be unaffected, ditto Gattinara, Donnas, Ghemme, etc. Where there may be competition is with Nebbiolo d’Alba and Langhe Nebbiolo both of which can be a mixed bag as it stands with some shockers mixed in with some fine value.

This just in…I just got an e-mail from ChickenLittle…“The sky is falling”!!! [snort.gif]

To me, this just sorta smacks of the producers of Barolo/Barbaresco/Langhe worried about protecting their monopoly on Nebbiolo and keeping their prices jacked up.
You can grow crap Nebbiolo even in B/B if you pick a bad site and vinify it as crap. So they know, a priori, that all the sites in Piemonte are bad for Nebbiolo??
Or that all the sites in Asti/Monferrato will make crap Nebbiolo. My…I’m amazed by their preseince. What if a Nebbiolo is grown just outside the boundaries
of Gehmme or Costa della Sessia that would only qualify for DOC Piemonte Nebbiolo?? They know that it would be crap??
If all the DOC Nebbiolo produced is predestined to be crap…the marketplace will have a way of figuring things out, I suspect.

Sounds to me a lot like NapaVlly producers protesting the production of Cabernet in Lodi because it would dilute their brand.


I’m personally not a fan of any consortium group reinforcing group think of what makes a wine true to an area… But then again I lean so far from the traditionalist take in favor of super cuvees and interesting new wines in traditional places (like Bdx Chard) that I’m not sure my view should be taken seriously by people that have more skin in the game.

I think this could be a win as this opens things up for producers to make a little bit of money for offering more value to consumers though- making cool bottlings in the process. So I’m all for it.

Well, I too fail to see much cause for alarm. I certainly don’t think that a few Piemonte Nebbiolos, even if so-so, would suddenly threaten the position of Barolo or Barbaresco, let alone bring the Nebbiolo varietal in disrepute. At most, it would increase competition in the bottom segment of the Nebbiolo market and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing from a consumer point of view, I think.

Nor do I see how this proposal threatens the subzone reform that has just been carried out in B&B. Such zoning was perhaps needed in order to settle what the cru labels already used actually meant and who had a right to call a wine this or that. But the reform would hardly be in vain even if some Piemonte Nebbiolos were added.

Certainly, it stands to reason that on average, the prospects of growing good Nebbiolo are better in those areas where the grape already has a DOC or DOCG of its own. But there is much to suggest that those areas are already overexploited with regard to Nebbiolo and that the vine is now to a significant extent planted in vineyards that are less than perfectly suited to it. It might well be that there are pockets here and there in other regions where the vine would work pretty well, and better than in some places where it is already grown.

One thing that I think O’Keefe should have mentioned, if she knew, or checked up, if she didn’t, is that Nebbiolo is already allowed to be issued as Piemonte Rosso DOC or as Monferrato Rosso DOC (if coming from the vast Monferrato district which covers pretty much all of Piedmont where there is much hope of growing decent Nebbiolo and where it doesn’t yet have its own DOC or DOCG). Some such Nebbiolo wines are already on the market. A few examples are provided via the links below.

So contrary to what one might think when reading O’Keefe’s article, it isn’t really that Nebbiolo is forbidden or refused a DOC label outside Langhe, Roero and the scattered DOCs and DOCGs in the north. The only thing producers can’t currently do under the Piemonte or Monferrato DOC is flaunt Nebbiolo as part of the DOC designation, although they are of course free to indicate the varietal in other ways. So perhaps it is only the possibility to spell out the name of the grape as part of the DOC label that the Asti/Monferrato consortium is after (if it is actually responsible for the proposal).

Here are some examples of Piemonte Rosso or Monferrato Rosso Nebbiolos: