Arguably Italy‘s greatest red grape variety, responsible in north-west Italy for the great reds of barolo and barbaresco, whose range of fabulous violet and rose-like perfumes and flavours of truffle, fennel, liquorice and tar, make it one of the world’s most distinctive grape varieties.

Quick link: Barolo Wine Region


Named for the Italian nebbia, meaning fog, because of the mists which enshroud the limetstone hills of Monforte around Alba, nebbiolo is a tricky grape variety to grow and is structured by good acidity and plenty of tannin. Small quantities are grown in California and Australia, where it has yet to show the pedigree of its Italian counterpart.

SEE: A tour of Barolo vineyards with Ian D’Agata | Top Barolo 2010 & Barbaresco 2011 | Top Barolos and Barbarescos: Ian D’Agata’s best buys

What does it taste like?

Northern Italy’s thick-skinned Nebbiolo grape of barolo and barbaresco fame is one of the most delightfully aromatic of red grape varieties and for that reason sometimes compared to Pinot Noir, but the aromas and flavours are very different. Structured by high acidity and no shortage of tannin, Nebbiolo’s bouquet encompasses violet, smoke and rose-like perfumes with flavours of truffle, fennel, liquorice and, most famously, tar.

Updated by Jeanne Thexton on the 11th of January 2016