Nebbiolo and Camembert

I wanted to obtain this bottle of Nebbiolo to see if it was worth shelling out for the producer’s flasher wines. When I was on the blower to the wine-merchant he said he only had one bottle of the grown-up example I particularly wanted, so I scored that anyway. Perhaps this is cognitive dissonance at work, but based on the qualities of this wine I feel the Barbaresco purchase was not unwise even if I will have to age the bleeder for one hell of a long time in order for it to reach maturity.

As I was being assaulted by the tannin level in this wine it suddenly occurred to me that I had a Camembert just reaching its peak of ripeness. If you’ve never tried it, and I can understand if you haven’t, the combination of Camembert and Nebbiolo is quite brilliant. The richly creamy flavours of the Camembert help one deal with the rigour of the wine whilst the acidity and fruit in the wine make the cheese’s rancid aspects seem utterly delightful. One of the best cheese and wine combinations I’ve ever experienced, probably on the level of a top Munster with an overt but not excessively lurid Gewurztraminer.

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Langhe Nebbiolo 2009, Sottimano

My first sniff of this is rather surprising, it smells just like the world’s most alcoholic Beaujolais. I like Beaujolais, on distinctly infrequent occasions, but I’d never expect Nebbiolo to smell like it. Ah, good, after a quick swirl in the glass that carbonic maceration aspect has gone and the nose is purged of Gamay taint. Now it is showing ripe cherry fruitiness which is quite yummy and lacking any hint of being oxidised or dried out (my preference is for ‘new-style’ Nebbiolo). I do find, because of the impressive booze-quotient, the idea of cherry-flavour cough sweets bubbling up in my conciousness as I inhale. Some floral characters are there as well, and if I really apply my imagination I think I can discern a shade of earthiness, but I feel safe in saying the main aromas are of cherries and alcohol without too much in the way of complexity disturbing the appreciation of those characters. Sure, I like complexity, as do we all, but this is an inexpensive wine and so we can only ask so much of it. The palate has that wonderful Nebbiolo tension between attractive fruit, lively acidity and serious tannins. It has more than a suggestion of the elegance one wants from Piedmont Nebbiolo, even if it doesn’t have the ultimate complexity of a top-shelf Barolo or Barbaresco. The [link2post id=”5273″]Boca I had a couple of weeks back[/link2post] was more sophisticated and engaging and also quite a lot more expensive. That doesn’t matter, though, as this is not pretending to be anything like that; it is for those who wish to sample the full-power of Nebbiolo’s heroics without having to tax your critical and aesthetic sensibilities or result in your credit card going limp and flaccid with over-exertion. Drink soon whilst it pulses with vivacity and vim, and I really do suggest some characterful Camembert as a top accompaniment.