Castiglione in the fog

GRAPE DATE: The foggy one

Are you interested in dating Italian aristocracy? If so, then do read on as today’s Grape Date is…



I lurk in the foothills of the Alps, but I’m actually pretty noble. Let’s put it this way – if Cabernet Sauvignon describes itself as the king of French grapes, then I definitely am the king of Italian reds. As a youngster I’m surly and unapproachable (unless you pair me up with a good steak) but as I age I develop a maturity and layers of complexity and become a hedonists dream. I am all smoke and mirrors… I hide my true nature behind a veil of fog only to perform the final reveal – which, trust me, is always impressive.


Name: Nebbiolo

Nicknames: You might know me better as Barolo or Barbaresco



Age: Distinguished

Country of Origin: Piemonte, Italy

Location:  North west Italy is my homeland. What can I say? You can take the grape out of Italy, but you cannot take Italy out of the grape.

Like: Sunbathing well into October, those who agree with the old adage ‘Patience is a virtue’

Dislike:  Hailstorms.

Body type: I’m very well built and muscular

Children: Please! I don’t believe in diluting my gene pool.

Smoking: I may indulge in the odd cigar. Come on, I’m Italian – what else would you expect?

Drinking: I go down like velvet… If you have about 20 years worth of patience

I am So. Distinctly. Italian. I take influence from my surroundings and pair local indulgences such as truffles and hazelnuts together with delicate flavours of rose, tobacco and red cherry. I’m a bit like marmite; I’ll definitely take you to the extremes, and make you experience sensations that you will have never felt before. Usually I leave people screaming for more, but occasionally I am misunderstood and people can run from me screaming in horror.

Similar to: Sometimes when I’m a little more mature I can be confused with Pinot Noir

Pairing: Man, I need a partner like a fish needs water. I am no good alone, but I can really help to lift any of the butter-laden and truffle-rich foods of my region. Stick me next to some food, such as this recipe, and I will shine.

Met your match?
Allora! I’m sorry to say I’m not a cheap date. You can find more affordable examples, but if you’re looking for my designer labels such as Barolo then be prepared to stump up.

Malvira Langhe Nebbiolo, Italy, £11.99 Waitrose

Keep me for a few years
Finest Barolo Italy 2008, £15.99, Tesco

Drink me now

Barolo Rocche Rivera, Luigi Oddero, Italy. £37.50 Berry Bros & Rudd

7 thoughts on “GRAPE DATE: The foggy one

    • Good question Nick!

      Young Barolo technically doesn’t really exist, as it’s legally at least 3 years old before it is released. It can be drinkable at this age (albeit realistically only with food), but for it to shine you need to leave it a good ten years. And for an outstanding producer I wouldn’t touch mine for more like 20.

      It just depends what you want from your wine – at 5 years old it will be great, but no where near as impressive and complex as if it has been left for another 10 years. Good luck with your bottles!

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