Chiarlo Il Principe Langhe Nebbiolo

Michele Chiarlo ‘Il Principe’ 2018

Price: $23.95 per 750ml
Channel: LCBO Vintages (#22126)

Producer: Michele Chiarlo
Country: Italy
Region: Piedmont
Appellation: Langhe Nebbiolo DOC
Certification: None

Grapes: Nebbiolo
Alcohol by Volume: 14%
Sugar Content: 2 grams per litre

Il Principe translates as “the prince”, and I wonder if this isn’t a play on Langhe Nebbiolo’s reputation as ‘baby Barolo’. Barolo may or not be ‘the king of wines and the wine of kings’, but these days I don’t think Langhe Nebbiolo is as much a Dauphin as a free citizen in it’s own right. True: a lot of 100% Nebbiolo wines from this part of Piedmont, that aren’t classified as Barolo or Barbarersco, are fetching princely sums, but this is more a sign that they are becoming their own category worthy of respect. It’s good to see a fair sized producer from the region like Michele Chiarlo make a ‘LN’ of some sophistication for under $25. Those of us who enjoy the cherry, tar and roses typicity of Nebbiolo are pleased to have an example that we can afford and enjoy right away.

The 2018 Michele Chiaro ‘Il Principe’ Langhe Nebbiolo DOC is made from grapes from Barbaresco and Roero. An educated guess would be the Barbaresco grapes come from young vines not ready to be classified into more expensive DOCG wine. Another educated guess would be that the producer has access to good Roero Nebiolo that they would prefer be simply classified as Langhe Nebbiolo rather than classified from its place of origin as a way of keeping the prestige of the two big B appellations. In any event it’s a treat to find a LN of this quality at this price. Look for deep dark cherry bleeding into black and blue forest fruit, an earthiness balancing bright acidity all held together with soft but pronounced tannins. I keep meaning to put a bottle away to see how it might evolve in a few years (well I bet), but it’s drinking so well now the temptation to open has been too strong.