Kamran A. Khawar oversees Product Development, Design and Operational and Legal matters at VinoVue, a technology company that he co-founded in 2011. In his spare time, Kamran A. Khawar is an avid wine enthusiast and likes to share his wine experiences with friends and colleagues.
As one of the more fickle wine grapes to grow, committing to the production of Nebbiolo can be a true labor of love. Nebbiolo has a long growing season; it will flower early but ripen late, increasing the time during which things can go wrong. It needs lots of sunlight and usually will get the south slopes with great exposure; but it also needs wind protection, and prefers a certain elevation. If it rains heavily after the grapes turn red, the quality can tank. Nebbiolo is picky about the climate and soil types it will grow in, but when it chooses to grow in a particular soil, it is extremely expressive of even the slightest micro-nuances of the soil. The buds are also picky– often the first ones are infertile, so in the vineyard you have to account for this with more space. In the post-phylloxera era much thought needs to go into rootstock selection as well, and in the Langhe, rootstocks that can withstand high amounts of active lime are a necessity.
As an older grape variety that is centuries — and possibly over a millennium — away from its mother plant, Nebbiolo mutates easily and has many clonal variations. Some of Nebbiolo’s offspring have even been confused as clones.