A Nebbiolo by a lesser god (and checking in with Slow Food USA).

Here in Piedmont where I’ve been teaching at Slow Food U this week, people drink red wine. When you talk to the old timers, they’ll tell you that in their day, there was no white wine to drink here. No Timorasso, no Anascetta, and maybe just a little Arneis (that no one really cared about back then). Just Barbera, Dolcetto, and the occasional Nebbiolo.

So it was only natural that Slow Wine guide editor-in-chief, a Piedmontese through and through, would order a bottle of red wine when he, his wonderful family, and I sat down for an aperitivo at everyone’s favorite natural wine bar Zero in the town of Bra where most of the students live and where I stay in hotel during my teaching gig.

His selection was a Roero Rosso by progressive grower and producer Alberto Oggero, a 100-percent Nebbiolo he calls “SANDRO D’PINDETA.”

Drinking this deliciously fresh wine and noshing on salumi and cheeses, I couldn’t help but think of how Roero Nebbiolo is a category (nearly) entirely ignored by my American colleagues. Even as Alto Piemonte producers and their Nebbiolo have become the new stars of the überhipster American wine scene, it remains immensely challenging to find wines like these — Nebbiolo by a lesser god, as it were — in our market. Historically there have been one or maybe two producers of Roero-grown Nebbiolo that have made inroads in the U.S. But the category was never wholly embraced. It’s time to rethink that, in my opinion.

The wine was gorgeous, with classically sweet tannins, a hallmark of great Nebbiolo. Not prohibitively priced and ready to drink right out of the bottle, it only got better as we three adults finished it. What a great wine and value.

It was wonderful to see Giancarlo and his family (they have two daughters just like Tracie and me and the girls enjoyed visiting with them immensely we we were all here in 2018).

Back in 2016, he asked me to give him a hand in launching the Slow Wine Guide USA. For three years, he and I traveled throughout California and Oregon. We started with 70 California producers. And that number had tripled by the time, three years later, that I retired as the U.S. coordinator.

Today, he told me, they have greatly expanded their California and Oregon coverage and have added other states as well. I couldn’t be more proud to have been part of the launch. And while I don’t envy him all the headaches and heartaches that come with editing a guide, I miss our epic trips and tastings.

He said that while the Slow Wine tour was cancelled this fall (for reasons we all know too well), he plans to bring the winemakers to the U.S. in early 2022, including a stop in Austin. I’m looking forward to taking him out to a favorite barbecue and a night at the Continental Club where we first really connected when I took him to see a Dale Watson concert.

Grande Giancarlo! I’m so glad we’re friends and I’m so proud to have been a part of the Slow Wine launch in the U.S.

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