Nebbiolo 2017 Domenico Clerico ‘Capisme-e’ Langhe, Piedmont
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From one of the most iconic producers in Barolo, this wine is a pristine example of what the Langhe region does best.
Sebastian Crowther, Master Sommelier
Nebbiolo is derived from the Italian word nebbie, meaning fog and is one of the world’s most tantalising grapes. I must confess it did take me a number of years to fully understand the beauty of wines made from this grape because it carries so much personality. Naturally high in acidity and tannin, it makes wine with edges and demands to be drunk with food and served in big glasses.
Did you know, Nebbiolo has many different names, here are a few examples of the more common ones – Spanna (Piemonte), Chiavennasca (Valtellina), Picotendro / Picoutener (Valle d’Aosta).
Piedmont translates to the foot of the mountain thus called because its surrounded on three sides by the Apennines and the Alps. The Po River, one of the most significant bodies of water in Italy, cuts through the heart of the region as it flows east from the Alps. This is where some of the powerhouse wine regions of Italy are located.
Capismee means “understand me” in Piedmontese dialect. The Domenico Clerico estate is located right in the heart of the Barolo region in the town of Monforte d’Alba. Rolling hills and distant snow-capped mountains coupled with incredible local cuisine make this one of the greatest regions to visit.
Domenico Clerico, who passed away in July 2017, began producing wine in 1976 as one of the progressive winemakers in the region at the time. I’ve always followed this estate closely and think it lost its way with making “international” styles for some time. I’m pleased to report, it is back on track.
When Domenico took over from his father in 1976, the estate didn’t make any wine from its eleven acres of vineyards, rather they sold the fruit. Early on he identified the importance of making estate bottled wines and went about doing this and expanding their vineyard holdings at the same time. He was a huge part of changing the mindset of local producers and ultimately changing the image of the region.
Although this wine is labelled as Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, it’s grown in the Barolo district and is entitled to be Barolo as it’s from the San Pietro Cru. The only thing that holds it back is how it’s aged in the winery. This wine never sees any time in oak, rather it is raised exclusively in steel tanks. This lets the grape and terroir shine ahead of winemaking. A pop of violet, blackcurrant and red cherry greet you on arrival, before layers of dark earth, nutmeg and clove roll forward. The palate has an energy, a vibrancy. It seems buoyant above some very fine and detailed fruit tannin. Super fresh acidity keeps everything in check. Perfect with some slow roasted duck.