The region of Piemonte enjoys an unrivaled seat among the world’s very finest wine regions.
Located in northwest Italy, Piemonte is the home of more DOCG wines than any other Italian region, among them such well known and respected names as Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera d’Asti. Among those 17 DOCGs, the region also boasts 42 DOCs, a testimony to the region’s rich wine heritage and the high quality wines produced in the region.
Piemonte sits, as its name suggests, at the foot of the Western Alps on its northern and western sides and borders the Apennine mountains to the southeast. These low coastal hills divide Piemonte from its long, thin neighbour Liguria, and the Mediterranean sea. This geography is what is largely responsible for the region’s favourable environment for wine making. The climate of Piemonte is known for its cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers, this difference in temperature, accompanied by the noted presence of fog in the region are all contributing factors to what makes this region’s wines so renowned and celebrated.
In this region, do not expect mass production of wine, instead, Piemonte’s wine culture is characterized by its many small-scale, family wineries and a focus on high quality wines with a distinct character. Some of their outstanding wines to discover include Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Asti in the reds; Roero and Gavi in the whites, in addition to sparkling wines such as Moscato d’Asti and a sweet relatively unknown red, Brachetto d’Acqui, among many others.
Here are a few of Piemonte’s wine appellations to discover:
Cultivated in Cuneo, in the Langhe, Barolo wines produced with 100% Nebbiolo grapes, have aromas of roses and fruit jam, vanilla and toasted bread. As it ages, its color becomes progressively more rusty-red. This wine is used in brasato al Barolo (braised beef), a typical Piedmontese dish and can be enjoyed with lamb and strong cheeses such as Bra duro and Castelmagno.
This appellation is in the commune of Barbaresco, east of Alba, Piedmont. Its proximity to the Tanaro river allow the red Nebbiolo grapes to ripen more quickly, and therefore less aging is required. With bouquets of violets and roses and cherry, licorice and fennel notes, it develops a smokier flavor and becomes lighter in color as it ages.These wines pair well with braised beef or carne cruda – raw beef or veal prepared the Piedmontese way (also known as steak tartare).
Barbera d’Alba DOC
Barbera d’Alba DOC is a wine appellation in the town of Alba and the surrounding Langhe hills in Piemonte. This wine, made mostly with Barbera grapes has cherry, raspberry and blueberry aromas and pairs well with antipasto, pasta and risotto.
Barbera d’Asti DOCG
Barbera d’Asti is a red wine made from Barbera grown in this grape variety’s native zone, the Monferrato hills of central Piemonte. The wine became a DOC in 1970, and was promoted to DOCG in 2008. Barbera d’Asti is made from 90-100% Barbera grapes. Typical flavours are red fruits from the darker end of the spectrum. Around 5-8 years Barbera’s fruit dims, becoming more savoury, slightly feral and forest-floor like.
Dolcetto d’Alba DOC
Made with black Dolcetto grapes that are harvested in mid-September, the wines found in the Dolcetto d’Alba DOC are mainly dry and fruity with notes of black cherry and licorice. Cultivated mainly in Alba and Ovada, these dark-colored wines with a slight almond aftertaste pair well with pasta and pizza and especially with typical Piemontese dishes.
Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG
Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG is produced in the Piedmont wine region around Acqui Terme in the province of Alessandria, Piemonte. According to legends, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony presented Cleopatra several gourds of this wine, known in those times as Vinum Acquense, as a gift. This cherry-red wine with a fresh and sweet aroma, is produced from 100% Brachetto grapes and pairs well with fresh fruits, pastries and elaborate desserts.
Asti or Moscato d’Asti DOCG
Cultivated in the province of Asti in Montferrat, Moscato d’Asti DOCG is a semi-sparkling white wine made with 100% Moscato grapes. With sweet floral and peach aromas and notes of pear and apple, it pairs especially well with desserts but can also be enjoyed with lobster or served as an aperitif.
Roero is a DOCG wine zone in north-western Italy in Cuneo, in Piemonte. The white wines, known as Roero Arneis, produced in this area are mainly made from white Arneis grapes and the bold, fragrant reds known as Roero Rosso are made from Nebbiolo. Cultivated on the north-facing slopes, Roero Arneis is a classic dry white wine with floral aromas and notes of pear and apricot that pairs well with seafood, salads, light soups, veal, pork, and chicken. Roero Rosso, cultivated on the south-facing slopes using Nebbiolo grapes, is spiced with aromas of sour cherries and black forest fruits and pairs well with rich, heavy meats and sauces.
Gavi DOCG appellation produces dry white wines in the hills surrounding the town of Gavi, in Piemonte. The name derives from Ga Va meaning “land of holes” in the local dialect in reference to the cave dwellings of the area’s original inhabitants. This light and crisp wine produced with 100% Cortese grapes, has notes of pear and lemon and compliments seafood dishes, which is why locals like to serve it with fresh fish caught in the area.