SOME OF THE MOST food-friendly red wines in the world linger inside nondescript bottles labeled with little more than their place of origin—mostly Piedmontese microregions in the foothills of the Alps. And though few customers, even the savvy ones, are familiar with the wines, they are consistently served by the glass at Portland’s best restaurants.
The grape used to make these reds is called nebbiolo. The name is derived from the Italian word for fog, nebbia, because the fruit seems to ripen perfectly when bathed in the fog that blankets the region late in the growing season.
The most alluring elements of nebbiolos are their distinguished aroma of dark red roses and their rich, full flavor—the wine is pleasantly astringent with a lively tartness. And while a few American growers have attempted to produce nebbiolo, no one has yet been able to replicate the heights of this noble grape’s original misty home. —Condé Cox