What We Say 2006 El Dorado County Nebbiolo
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Mission Codename: Give Nebbiolo its Due
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Find an illusive California Nebbiolo
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Due Vigne di Familia
Wine Subject: 2006 El Dorado County Nebbiolo
Nebbiolo, perhaps the most Noble of Italian grapes, is slowly finding a home in the new world. Much revered in the Piedmont for its masculine Barolo, feminine Barbarescos and eclectic Langhe (sometimes blended), Nebbiolo is a powerful high tannin grape that has exceptional aging potential. When young, wines made from Nebbiolo can be rough around the edges leading to a rustic quality (one that we quite like actually) but with age these wines show tremendous finesse and elegance. The most distinguishing flavor and aroma characteristic of this grape is its mineral tar and floral rose components.
El Dorado County AVA is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain foothills and is well known for its Zinfandel crop. Increasingly though, Rhone varietals and Nebbiolo are being planted. The rich volcanic soil, higher elevation and climate (similar to the Piedmont incidentally) most influences the fruit from this relatively lesser known AVA.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy with garnet highlights when held to the light. Along the edges, the color rapidly changes from Garnet to ruby to pick and when swirled closely spaced thin legs race down the side of the glass.
Smell – Medium in intensity with redolent sweet black and red fruit, floral rose and zesty mineral tar lead off the nose. As you explore further hints of blueberry, exotic spice and new oak emerge.
Feel – The initial attack of this wine is bold and tangy with highly structured firm etched tannins, spice and medium bright acidity that hits mid palate and extends to the very edges of the tongue. As this wine opens, this full bodied wine smooths but still retains its bold structure.
Taste – Youthful in character with flavors of red cherry and raspberry layered over zesty mineral tar and smokey oak. Notes of licorice, exotic spice emerge along with hints of floral rose and leather.
Finish – Clean and of medium length with this wine’s solid tannic structure carrying lingering flavors of fruit, tar, spice and oak until you take another sip.
Conclusion – Due Vigne di Familia’s 2006 El Dorado County Nebbiolo shows a modern and youthful approach to this most bold of Italian varietals. Aromatic on the nose, masculine in structure, classic flavors, a clean lingering finish, this wine is sure to please those who like big red wines. Enjoy this wine now (decant or let breath for best aromas and flavors) or cellar it for years to come. In this spy’s opinion, Nebbiolo is best paired not with a great big juicy steak (although I wouldn’t send it back), but Italian style, where they enjoy these bold wines with simple homemade egg noodles tossed with olive oil, garlic and shaved truffles.
When the Ops Center asked us agents who was interested in investigating Due Vigne di Famiglia’s Nebbiolo I immediately jumped on the opportunity. It was a no brainer, having spent much time investigating Italian wines, why not see if California’s version could hold its own.
While less common here is the U.S., Nebbiolo is among the most prolific and greatest of indigenous grapes in Italy and accounts for some of their most exceptional wines. Specifically, Nebbiolo finds is most expressive nature in the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo is named for the fog (Nebbia – see photo at left) that is common in the region at harvest time.
In California, Nebbiolo is finding a great home in our own piedmont, the foothills of the mighty Sierra Nevada mountains in El Dorado County. While the language of the vineyard hands might be different, this region has much in common with its Italian counterpart. Both have similar elevations above sea level and similar soil characteristics.
While the single vineyards of Barolo are still considered the ultimate expression of the Nebbiolo grape, California is quickly making a name for itself in this, one of my most favorite, varietal.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the El Dorado County AVA can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Due Vigne di Famiglia
Awards & Accolades:
Double Gold Medal – 2009 Lodi International Wine Awards
Silver Medal – 2009 National Women’s Wine Competition
Bronze Medal Winner – 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
About This Wine:
The 2006 Nebbiolo from the Musso Family Vineyard features a special selection of Nebbiolo budwood with an excellent lineage that we have planted at our 2,400 foot site in El Dorado County. The fruit was harvested the first week in October in pristine condition and reflecting our high hopes for the incredible bouquet that Nebbiolo is renowned for. This special bottling is our first effort with this rare varietal, not often seen in California.
About The Winery:
Due Vigne di Famiglia is a family-owned winery dedicated to growing the finest quality Cabernet Sauvignon Wine, Nebbiolo Wine, Dolcetto Wine and Viognier Wine in the Napa Valley.
Ken & Anne Musso – The concept of Due Vigne di Famiglia began to evolve over 30 years ago when Ken Musso became fascinated that his father and grandfather made a substantial amount of wine in the basement of a landmark mortuary in San Francisco. Winemaking became even more intriguing when Ken’s cousin’s discovered a few bottles of his grandfathers last vintage in their basement, the 1937 zinfandel. It was then that Ken knew it was his destiny to carry on the family tradition.
In 1973 Ken Musso began a career in firefighting that would span three decades and put any thought of commercial winemaking aside until Due Vigne came to fruition in 2004. But during those years the passion remained. Even as a relatively new firefighter in 1975 Ken brought his first load of zinfandel home from Sonoma in the trunk of his dad’s car and fermented them in the garage. The wine was a great success among family and friends and Ken decided he would look for more grapes, hopefully those that he could farm himself. Two years later a three acre vineyard in Pleasanton was leased which would yield three tons of eclectic varietals and more homemade wines.
Ken would continue to make wines for family and friends consecutively for thirty vintages while honing his skills as a winemaker through classes and seminars at UC Davis and other educational venues. In 1995 Ken and his wife Ann would purchase a five-acre parcel of land in Garden Valley, California to finally plant their own vines.
Ron & Barbara Houle – Ron Houle’s experience with wine began in the 1970’s while working in a liquor and wine shop in San Mateo. There he started to imagine one day growing his own grapes and making his own wine. Though for a while his life took another path and he became a firefighter in Burlingame, California. Shortly after, Ron and Ken Musso met. On Ron’s days off he would help Ken in the vineyard and soon it was an annual Houle family outing to help harvest Musso grapes.
In 2000 Ron and his wife Barbara moved to their dream home in the Napa Valley. Cuttings from one of Napa’s most revered Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards were obtained and planted in 2001. Now it was Ron’s turn to invite friends and family to help begin his own vineyard. Most of the same loved ones who planted those first cuttings return every year to help pick the newest crop of grapes.
2006 brought Ron’s retirement after a 30 year career with the fire department. Today he is a full time vintner and vineyard manager, overseeing the daily operations of the vineyard.
Nina Fadelli – Growing up in a large Italian family, wine was and still is a staple at the Fadelli dinner table. Nina has spent countless Sundays gathered around the table with her cousins Barbara and Ron and their family, discovering new and exciting wines as well as realizing that they share the same taste in wine. When Barbara and Ron moved to Napa in 2000 Nina was the first one there to help them grow their wine. Over the next six years Nina spent many weekends helping Ron in the vineyard: planting, pruning, learning about the vines and experimenting with the wine.
In 2007 Nina became a partner in Due Vigne. Nina not only brings her passion for wine to the company but nearly 20 years of marketing and graphic design experience. After graduating from Saint Mary’s College in Marketing and Communications, Nina began working in the travel industry as a graphic designer. Today Nina continues her work in the travel industry while also working closely with Ken Musso and Ron Houle to create the finest wine experience for everyone who drinks Due Vigne.
Blend: 100% Nebbiolo
Harvested: October 2, 2006
Aged: 100% French Oak, 60% new
Cases produced: 100