Piemonte

Piemonte

The verdant hills of the Langhe, besides having an abundance of effortless charm, are home to some of the most revered vineyard land in the world. To many, those slopes impart as much character to Piedmont’s great grape, Nebbiolo, as the hallowed Côte d’Or does to Pinot Noir. Indeed the comparison with Burgundy doesn’t stop with this shared status, as the sensibilities of Burgundy lovers are also well suited to appreciate the ethereal grandeur of Barolo and Barbaresco.

In some respects, Barolo could not be more different from Burgundy: ruggedly tannic, dry-toned, high-ish alcohol wines, as opposed to the grace and supple refinement of, for example, a good Vosne-Romanée. But, both are fragrant and long lived, both develop haunting sophistication over time, both reflect their territories in youth and old age, both are, for want of a better expression, ...READ MORE

Piemonte

The verdant hills of the Langhe, besides having an abundance of effortless charm, are home to some of the most revered vineyard land in the world. To many, those slopes impart as much character to Piedmont’s great grape, Nebbiolo, as the hallowed Côte d’Or does to Pinot Noir. Indeed the comparison with Burgundy doesn’t stop with this shared status, as the sensibilities of Burgundy lovers are also well suited to appreciate the ethereal grandeur of Barolo and Barbaresco.

In some respects, Barolo could not be more different from Burgundy: ruggedly tannic, dry-toned, high-ish alcohol wines, as opposed to the grace and supple refinement of, for example, a good Vosne-Romanée. But, both are fragrant and long lived, both develop haunting sophistication over time, both reflect their territories in youth and old age, both are, for want of a better expression, sensual wines, meditative, emotional even, and addictively delicious.

The principal DOC(G)s for Nebbiolo are Barolo and Barbaresco, with simpler wines coming under the Langhe DOC. The Langhe is certainly the spiritual home of Piedmont but its neighbour the Roero is capable of producing Nebbiolo of considerable quality, too, although many of its sites tend to produce wines of more fragrance and somewhat less gravitas. As Nebbiolo stretches into the more marginal climatic zones to the north (Ghemme, Carema, Gattinara etc.) the wines tend to the lean, with more ruggedly tannic profiles, and require time in bottle to display their charm.

Dolcetto just shaves Nebbiolo for plantings, and Barbera has more than triple the vineyard land devoted to it. While this seems a little odd when you consider that most regionally emblematic grapes are usually also those most widely planted. However, much like Sagrantino in Umbria, Nebbiolo needs the right home; it needs specific climatic conditions to thrive, and it needs the right soil to excel and convey terroir. Barbera is a much simpler proposition to grow, and the often fruit-forward wines are both suited to everyday drinking and can also be crafted to age with authority.

Dolcetto is typically seen as an everyday wine, and one that is best consumed within a couple of years of release. However, although Dolcetto may lose its charmingly vibrant flush of fruit with time in bottle (or barrel), there are many producers who are challenging the notion that Dolcetto needs to always be relegated to a simple pleasure.

More exposed to the influence of the Mediterranean via Liguria, Gavi is famed for elegant wines made from the Cortese grape. Historically the location of some of Italy’s most expensive white wines, and once the victim of industrialisation, today Gavi can deliver deliciously fine, mineral-tinged bottlings at accessible prices. The other white of significance is Arneis, with the best examples typically hailing from the Roero, west of Asti.

Piedmont is also famous for the soft and grapey sweet wines of Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui. Both are very similar frizzante style wines with fermentation stopped at around 5% alcohol. Moscato is distinctly grapey with aromas of musk, sherbet and orange blossom. Brachetto, on the other hand, is a red grape, and the wine is usually a blush beyond rosé, with lifted scents of red berries, particularly strawberry.

Principal denominations: Asti DOCG, Barbaresco DOCG, Barbera d'Alba DOC, Barbera d'Asti DOCG, Barbera del Monferrato DOC/Superiore DOCG, Barolo DOCG, Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG, Carema DOC, Dogliani DOCG, Dolcetto d'Acqui/d'Alba/d'Asti DOC, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG, Gattinara DOCG, Gavi DOCG, Ghemme DOCG, Langhe DOC, Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC
Important white varieties: Arneis, Cortese, Erbaluce, Favorita, Moscato, Timorasso,
Important red varieties: Barbera, Brachetto, Dolcetto, Freisa, Grignolino, Nebbiolo

 

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