Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo 2016
The following is from an interview I conducted with the Luca Currado, the owner and winemaker of Barolo’s legendary Vietti estate. Luca may be the most charismatic personality in a region of celebrity winemakers — with an allure exceeded only by the enchanting qualities of his Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo.
“Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo is, as Americans would say, a loss leader,” explains Luca. “We could classify Perbacco as a Barolo because all of its fruit comes from our Barolo vineyards, but Perbacco is our calling card, our first impression to new friends of the Vietti family. We want everybody to enjoy our beautiful Nebbiolo.”
The happy story of Perbacco, the Vietti family and their Barolo vineyards begins after the turn of the twentieth century and unfolds through chapters of Italian history.
“In Italy, the firstborn son is for the family business, the second for academics, and, if you are lucky enough to have a third, then you have a priest,” begins Luca. “My great uncle was for the family vineyards. My grandfather Mario went to school to become an engineer. But after receiving his degree, my grandfather couldn’t find work as an engineer in Italy. So he left for America — for Boston — to build bridges across the harbor. He got married and planned to stay.
“Meanwhile, in Italy, my great uncle was a Fascist resistor — and the 1920s wasn’t a good time for Italy or Fascist resistors. One day, he got dragged into the square of Castiglione and made and example of. He got his head shot off. Suddenly, my grandfather Mario became the first son. His life as an engineer was over. After three decades in America, he came back to Barolo to run the vineyards. As you can imagine, by the time he got back to Italy, the vines had gone untended — the vineyards were a mess. And so began Vietti’s rebirth.
“And then came my father. He was a proud man and particularly proud of his Nebbiolo. He was a more religious man than I am and felt God had made the land of Barolo and all its twisting and turning valleys. He always said, ‘Why make these valleys if not to express the greatness of the Nebbiolo grape? God is not stupid. He likes Nebbiolo.’ He had married into the Vietti family — which is why my surname is Currado — and maybe he felt he had something to prove, a responsibility to take the Vietti vineyards into the future. This was very early in the idea of vineyard site Barolos – of Cru Barolos. My father was the first to pursue it. Because of his life and his work, Vietti Cru Barolos are famous all around the world. He was rightfully proud of his Barolos.
“So now I am the firstborn son, and I wonder, ‘What am I for the history of Vietti wine? And I think my contribution is the Perbacco Nebbiolo. We need wine to drink every day of the week, and Perbacco is a wine for people to know our family’s culture, our traditions, our way of life and our beautiful Nebbiolo. And so I spend my most of my effort and energy on Perbacco.”
While Luca is a famously charismatic and gifted winemaker, I think the astonishingly low price he sells me his Perbacco Nebbiolo for may be his best quality. For those of you who know my love of all things Nebbiolo, Perbacco is Nebbiolo’s undisputed best value. It leaves you wondering why you’d ever want drink anything else. Its nose is classic Nebbiolo, with crushed roses and notes of orange peel and cherry. As with all Nebbiolo wine, its palate is all about the tension between the purity of its fruit and power of its tannins, and Perbacco’s at the razor’s edge of perfection. It’s a stunning wine at any price. If God likes Nebbiolo, He has to love this.
Our offering of Perbacco is from the great 2015 vintage. Buy it to drink now or 10 years from now, but don’t miss out on this spectacular price.
“White pepper, cherry, tea, juniper and tobacco flavors dissolve into a swath of tannins that leave a grip on the finish. Though elegant, this feels more like a Barolo in profile and structure. Best from 2020 through 2030.” — Wine Spectator