Wine Review: Karmere Empress La Petite Morgon Nebbiolo 2008

On my recent trip to the Sierra Foothills I was impressed with the unique expression of Italian varietals found there, especially in the Shenandoah Valley of Amador County where Karmere is located.

The Karmere Nebbiolo has the orange/copper tint and aromatic nose characteristic of Nebbiolo but lacks the tar and harsh tannins that make this grape unapproachable when young. The nose is gorgeously floral with berry supported by subtle earth tones and clove. Dark berry persists on the palate although it could use more complexity. The finish is long, the tannins persistent but not overbearing. The medium body is most surprising given the 14.6% alcohol. This wine strives for elegance, not power, with a mouthfeel reminiscent of pinot noir, though more tannic than is typical of pinot.

A teenage prom queen that needs a bit more age to bring out earthy notes, it lacks the profundity and power of a Barolo but it compensates with considerable charm.

Good: The combination of lovely, aromatic nose, elegant body and persistent but manageable tannins.

Bad: Mid-palate lacks depth

Distinctive: A unique expression of the grape. A promising indicator of what this interesting wine region can accomplish.

Price: About $24.00

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