Spotlight on Nebbiolo: Travaglini Gattinara Nebbiolo Riserva 2001

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Though most wine drinkers know Barolo and Barbaresco well, Piedmont includes several other regions in which Nebbiolo grows. Most of the wines grown elsewhere don’t have the complexity and concentration of the two great regions, but good wines can be found.

Gattinara is found in northern Piedmont, in the hills of Novara and Vercelli. Being a northern region, the wines made here tend to be lighter than Barolo and Barbaresco. Gattinara in particular tends to be fairly earthy in character, and I certainly felt that way about this 10 year old riserva.

The Acidic Soils of Gattinara

The soils of Gattinara are heavy with minerals and are known to be “porphyry” soils. This soil type tends to be higher in acid than others, which can give vibrant aromas but can also cause balance issues. Travaglini sets out to avoid these issues by using guyot training which reduces yields compared to traditional trellising in the region. Careful vineyard management ensures more even ripening and grape selection.

Travaglini combines some traditional techniques with its mostly modern approach – for example, using large slavonian oak botti for the first period of aging before moving the wine to barriques. I think they’ve managed the hybrid approach well and the barriques have not overburdened the magical scents of the Nebbiolo grape, which can’t be said for all ‘modernist’ producers.

An Earthy Wine At Peak

This wine is throwing decent sediment right now, as expected for its age. The nose suggested cherries, flowers and some secondary earthiness along with overall elegance.

The palate begins with promise: felt tip marker, bitter leaf, and nut skins. Quite a savory wine, but also nice length. The fruit is still alive right now, but it is on the verge of fading. The tannins are still somewhat aggressive and drying and I do not think this will improve. Food helps soften the impact of the tannin, and my experience so far with Nebbiolo suggests that these wines really should always be consumed with food.

In conclusion, this is a high quality lighter-bodied Nebbiolo that is not quite at the level of other Nebbiolo wines at this price point. It does speak of its terroir, however, and it demonstrates just how special Barolo and Barbaresco really are.

Very Good to Very Good+
$75 at Kits Wine

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