The Nebbiolo grape variety is cultivated throughout the region of Piedmont: in the province of Turin, (Carema), the Biella, Alto Vercellese, Novara and Asti districts. But it is most widely cultivated in the province of Cuneo (Langhe and Roero), where it reaches its highest levels of excellence. It is also widespread in the Bassa Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, and present in Franciacorta. Sporadic Nebbiolo vineyards can be found on the other side of the Atlantic.
Nebbiolo shows considerable polymorphism and a high level of intra-varietal variability. The adult leaf – pentagonal or wedge-shaped, rarely whole, often with three lobes but sometimes with five or even seven – is small to medium-large and characterized by a long stalk. The blade has a mainly flat slightly cupped profile, medium in thickness and finely puckered, with a pinkish pedicel base or veins with a red base.
The ripe bunch is frequently medium-large or large, winged, pyramid-shaped, elongated, generally tight, with a medium-length, strong pedicel.
The blue-black berry is medium to small with a thick skin.
Budbreak: early (first ten days of April).
Ripening: late (second-last ten days of October).
This is a very vigorous grape variety with medium to high production (with considerable variability depending on the clone). Due to its reduced fertility at basal bud level, Nebbiolo always requires long or mixed pruning; the most common training system is the espalier, characterized by greater height than for other grape varieties. There are traditionally more spread-out canopy management systems. Nebbiolo is sensitive to powdery mildew and sometimes to bunch mold. Its early budbreak makes it subject to damage due to late frosts.
Its most suitable use is for full-bodied, structured wines, aged fairly long to long.