Maialino wine director Liz Nicholson (who replaced Stephen Mancini in April) installed a Nebbiolo Bar in the restaurant's front room on August 26, a year after her visit to some of the same Italian wineries featured in the case. The enomatic system Nicholson "inherited" at the restaurant preserves open bottles for up to five weeks, but wasn't put to ideal use (storing nicer wines that can be sold by the glass) until her tenure.
Nebbiolo is the red grape used in Piedmont's champion appellations—Barolo and Barbaresco—but Nicholson wanted to demonstrate the varietal's range, which even shows up in white wine made by avoiding skin contact. "I think the Northern appellations make more elegant, leaner expressions and then you have Aldo Rainoldi making a sparkling version, other people were vinifying it white. When I really started thinking about it, there were so many cool things going on with this grape," Nicholson tells The Feast. The service includes half portions starting at $6 for a Bianco Conti Sertoli Salis '08 from Lombardia; full glasses (like Rainoldi's sparkling '05 Brut Rose for $16); quartinos ($33 for an '06 Giorgio Pelissero Barbaresco from Nubiola), and bottles up to $136.
The most expensive wine also happens to be a special delivery put on last week that Nicholson's been anticipating for months. The 1996 Collis Breclemae Ghemme by Cantalupo. "When I visited the winery at the end of August last year I noticed they were still selling it at the cantina, but it hasn't been for sale here for at least a few years," she explains. "It came in especially for us, for this program. It’s drinking so amazingly, it’s still a baby actually, but it’s got the most beautiful nose—it’s great for Burgundy drinkers, so savory and meaty, really special." At $34 glass, it's still her hidden gem. The producer makes the wine with "Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo," meaning "Old Vines of the Laughing Wolf," a translation Nicholson particulary enjoys. Her personal blog Via di Vino presents more stories from Italian wine country.