2016 Oddero Langhe Nebbiolo
One of the unsung heroes in the Oddero family’s mighty lineup is their awesome Langhe Nebbiolo. It is, in fact, at just over 1000 cases, the one Oddero wine that barely even makes it out of Italy. Sourced from 15-20 year-old vines on the Odderos’ ziggurat-shaped Bricco San Biagio hill right across from their Santa Maria di La Morra cantina, it is, like anything coming from these cellars, a very serious, very focused wine. Aged in neutral casks of varying sizes for between a year and a year and a half, depending on the harvest, it’s anything but the juicy, easy-going Nebbiolos many produce these days. I was lucky enough to be there for the picking and crushing of this 2016 and can say that everyone at the winery who saw the grapes that day was over the moon with its potential quality. And time has done nothing but validate that early enthusiasm.
The harvest, now considered one of the best of the long, long line of successes going back to 1990, produced wines with not only super-intense fruit, but imposing natural structures. In fact, comparing the harvest to 1990 itself or, perhaps even the timeless 1996, is not that far out of line. Cristina says her 2016 Nebbiolo ‘smells of the ground of the Langhe’ referring, I think, to the dry parched earth of summer in Barolo. I call it a ‘putty’ smell but, whatever you call it, that essence, and that sort of dried seed spice aroma are both very much a part of this wine. They revolve around a tightly wound core of cherry fruit which, in Oddero’s case, is usually more a yellow-pink cherry than a darker red one. There are other red fruits too- currants, perhaps, and a bit of something floral and herbal too. Young and a bit reticent now, I would put this in your cellar (maybe next to some of Chiara Boschis’ very fine Nebbiolo?) and break out a bottle around Thanksgiving and drink the rest over the next eight to ten years. This will, alas, be the cheapest and best way to get on the Oddero Nebbiolo bandwagon in 2016 vintage. The Barolos, when they come out in several years, will be rare and expensive and require many years to mature. Very highly recommended.