Why can’t California make Nebbiolo?
I’ve wondered this for years. There doesn’t seem to be any huge obvious reason why we can’t lurking in the room, but yet….. Oh yes and I’ve had my fair share. I keep trying–and people keep recommending–and EVERYTHING falls short. And I mean EVERYTHING. There literally are no exceptions. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. Either they try to treat it like Italy and it manifests itself as an odd, unbalanced, lollipop-sorta situation. Or, some hippie will insist it is Italy’s Pinot Noir, and must be stroked stateside in those manners. Yeah no. Those are always the most awkward. But what have we here? A little 30$ dinger off a resty list with more balls in its pinkie-nail than anything California has done put together.
Glowing clear garnet. Transparent even through deep pours. Long, defined legs weep down the sides of the glass.The nose reeks of briar and damp peaty earth and pangs of fresh asphalt cut with carborundum and slathered with fig jam. Green-pepper spiciness never fades, easily mingling with worn furniture varnish and the kind of floral only found on un-molested mountain walks. There’s a baseline of dirty anger: but it’s not barnyard; not dirty-baby-diaper; not really even compost. It’s a bright, energetic sort of earthiness: tilled with joy and sparkly aggravation. And there’s fruit, of course: light, dull cherry, rhubarb and strawberry, soaked raisins.
Tasting it brings THIS AIN’T ‘NAM! flashbacks of all the new world dretch I’ve twisted myself into. The fruit a peaceful by-line under things difficult to explain. A stunning concentration of flavors in a package so thin and, well… practically watery. Prickly pear and light berry line deep creases of dry, chalky territory, agonizingly teasing in its mouth-filling potential: a spiked-chain feather-duster wielded effortlessly over goose-bumps of straining receptors. Tannin finally takes over: cinnamon-dusted, cardamom-coated, licorice-addled tannins.
It’s so weird how California can’t even come CLOSE to this.
2018 ELIO SANDRI Nebbiolo Cascina Disa Langhe DOC Monforte Piedmont Italy 13.5