The moment the Gattinara swooshed from its irregularly-shaped bottle into the decanter, I was entranced. I had been steaming just moments before because we’d been duped into thinking we were dining at an authentic Venetian restaurant. Half the menu was unavailable, the wine list was a joke, and the chefs quaked behind the counter while we harangued the server about the atrocious food. The Gattinara was the saving grace of that evening ― and it came from my wine rack, not the restaurant’s.
I was struck by the brick terracotta liquid swirling at the base of the decanter, so light I could see right through it. Notes of sour cherries filled the air. They faded to make way for a mix of floral and earthy aromas ― hallmarks of a Nebbiolo. On the palate, it was light and lively, packed with raspberry and cherry notes. Over time, it started to take on an almost Burgundy-esque profile.
Gattinara, northwest of Piedmont, is considered by many to produce the loveliest expression of the Nebbiolo grape. While it’s mostly overshadowed by the two other expressions of the same grape ― Barolo and Barbaresco ― it’s solid enough to hold its own. Don’t let the pretty label and bottle fool you. When it comes to old-school Nebbiolo, this is some worthy juice.