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Nebbiolo is certainly one of the most exciting red grape varieties of all, even though it is hardly ever found outside of Piedmont and Valtellina. In Piedmont in particular, however, there are far more designations of origin for red wines based on Nebbiolo than just the famous Barolo and Barbaresco. It is difficult for many of them to step out of their shadows because their growing zones are often tiny and the quantities produced are rather small.

Yet the qualities of these wines, most of which are still produced very traditionally, are often impressive and the prices comparatively moderate. This also applies to the cross-territorial appellations, which are also home to the "smaller" wines of the Barolo and Barbaresco producers, which are often worth more than just a second glance.

As different as the styles may be, the best wines from all these lesser-known Nebbiolo appellations have one thing in common: the beguiling, tart fruit, the underwood, tobacco and sometimes tarry spice, as well as the incomparable, racy tannin for which we love Nebbiolo.

Nebbiolo grapes

For this BEST OF we tasted around 200 wines in total, from twelve sub-regions of Piedmont:


The northern Piedmont appellation around the small village of Boca, not far from Lake Maggiore, is just 15 hectares in size. Therefore, it is not easy to find its Nebbiolo-based wines anywhere. But the search can be worthwhile, because the few producers go all out.


Bramaterra is also a very small appellation in northwestern Piedmont. The region, which covers just 30 hectares, has had DOC status since 1979. Nebbiolo plays the main role, but is generally complemented by Croatina and a little Bonarda or Vespolina. The best examples develop over ten years and more.


Carema is a small DOC region that has existed since 1967 around the village of the same name in the far north of Piedmont, right on the border with the Aosta Valley. The wines are mainly made from Nebbiolo (which is usually called Chiavennasca or Spanna in northern Piedmont) and possibly small amounts of other varieties. Not least because of the altitude - the vineyards reach up to 700 metres - they are leaner than their counterparts from more southern climes, but can turn out complex and expressive.

Colline Novaresi

DOC created in 1994 for wines from northern Piedmont that do not belong to any of the small regional appellations in the province of Novara, i.e. Boca, Fara, Ghemme or Sizzano. In addition to Nebbiolo, Croatina, Bonarda and Vespolina as well as the white Erbaluce, which is widespread in this region, are also permitted for single-vineyard vinification.

Coste della Seisa

A rather little known Piedmont DOC region, classified only in 1996, in which Nebbiolo plays an important role, although not the only one. Vespolina, Croatina, Bonarda and the white Erbaluce are also at home here. The Nebbiolo here are usually much leaner than in more southern regions, but at their best they can be firm, complex and very animating.


The wine of the village of Gattinara was famed far beyond the borders of Italy centuries ago. Today, the area, which has been classified as a DOCG since 1990 (it already received DOC status in 1967!), has around 100 hectares of vineyards. The red wines, made from at least 90 percent Nebbiolo, are at their best firm, tart and complex, but like those from the other small growing regions of northern Piedmont, usually somewhat lighter than Barbaresco or even Barolo.


Ghemme lies in the immediate vicinity of Gattinara on the opposite side of the Sesia to the east, which flows into the Po a little further south. The wine-growing history of this small area is also ancient, and Ghemme and Gattinara also have a lot in common. However, the proportion of Nebbiolo may be somewhat lower here. Up to 25 percent Vespolina and/or Uva Rara are allowed. Ghemme often seems a little juicier and more open-hearted than the rather austere Gattinara, but matures similarly well.


Quite large, cross-territorial DOC south and east of the Tanaro. It applies to several red and white varieties, which may be offered pure or as a cuvée. The Nebbiolo are often second wines of the nobler appellations Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero, but can nevertheless be highly independent and characterful red wines that deserve every attention.

Vineyards in the Langhe near La Morra% Piedmont (Photo: La Cascina del Monastero)


Large DOC area in the municipalities of Alessandria and Asti, which is also the centre of the area east and south of Turin. Here, Nebbiolo is only one of the authorised varieties in a region that is best known for Barbera around Asti and Nizza Monferrato, and Dolcetto around Ovada in the extreme south of the area, each of which has its own designation of origin. Success here is often also achieved with international varieties and above all cuvées, in which Nebbiolo often plays no or only a secondary role.

Nebbiolo d'Alba

It doesn't always have to be Barolo in the region around Alba. Those who love Nebbiolo with its tart fruit, its tannin quantities and its wilt-floral, undergrowth and tobacco spice will also find what they are looking for among the considerably less expensive Nebbiolo d'Alba. Of course, they hardly reach the concentration and complexity of a top Barolo, but they are also much more accessible - and decidedly ready to drink earlier. The best examples, for all their power, are downright elegant and racy and make astonishingly versatile food companions.


The red wines from this 700-hectare region, made mainly from Nebbiolo, are rarely as powerful as the Barolo from the neighbouring vineyards south of the Tanaro. On the other hand, they are usually ready to drink earlier, even if the best of them are good for several years of ageing. The typical characteristics of the Nebbiolo, its pithy fruit, the taut tannin, the acid bite, the aromas of wilted blossoms and undergrowth, are also found in the Roero, only it is often a little more accessible and open-hearted than its powerful neighbour. Modernists and new wood are rarely found here, most of the wines are kept in a rather traditional style.

Valli Ossolane

The Valli Ossolane are located in the northernmost tip of Piedmont, west of Lake Maggiore on the Swiss border in the valley of the Fiume Toce. This spectacularly scenic region has only had DOC status since 2009. The Nebbiolo here is called "Prünent" and, due to the alpine climate, is usually taut and racy, even with a higher alcohol content. It is still rare to find these wines, but it can be worthwhile to look for them.

To the "BEST OF Nebbiolo" (PDF document)

All tasted Boca DOC

All tasted Bramaterra DOC

All Carema DOC tasted

All Colline Novaresi DOC tasted

All Coste della Sesia DOC tasted

All Gattinara DOCG tasted

All Ghemme DOCG tasted

All Langhe DOC tasted

All Monferrato DOC tasted

All Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC tasted

All Roero DOC tasted

All Roero DOCG tasted

All Valli Ossolane DOC tasted

All currently tasted Nebbiolo from Piedmont
(including Barolo and Barbaresco)

To the magazine article "Monferrato: A Piedmont not only for insiders".

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