The Wines of Piedmont (Piemonte) Italian Wine Regions #2
This is a series of articles about Italian Wine regions: we will explain the region, the grapes, the wines and DOCG, DOC and IGT Appellations.
From Asti Spumante to Barolo, the wines of Piedmont are among Italy’s most prolific and best rated. The region’s pedigree is apparent in its 58 DOC and DOCG zones, and although it is only the sixth largest producer in terms of volume, it has the highest percentage of classified wines in all of Italy. No IGT wine area is identified.
This westerly region that borders with Switzerland and France is influenced by the Alps and Apennines (the name Piedmont means "foot of the mountain") and its seasons are very distinctive. Hot, dry summers, cold winters, and temperate springs and autumns are common with occasional fog during harvest time. There is a concentration of vineyards around Alba, by the Tanaro river, and others are located in the hills of Langhe and Monferrato in the south east. Many factors contribute to the success of the region’s wines - a long history of wine production, a great respect for tradition, a wave of young, dynamic producers who recognize the potential of the local grapes, and the affinity of these charismatic grapes with the terrain.
Undoubtedly it is the red wines that lead the way in terms of quality and cellaring potential with wines made from the noble Nebbiolo grape. The DOCGs of Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme and Roero all represent the grape at its finest: they are complex, alluring wines with extraordinary depth and great ageing potential. Barolo ("king of wines and wine of kings") is made in the Langhe hills with its output of 6 million bottles a year far exceeding that of Barbaresco at less than 2.5 million.
In terms of volume though, the Barbera grape is the most important, closely followed by Dolcetto. The popular Barbera, like Nebbiolo, has undergone something of a transformation recently. Most versions are vibrantly fruity, with high acidity and compliment the local cuisine perfectly. The finest examples can age well in bottle and take on flavours not unlike those of a fine Nebbiolo.
The most popular wine globally to come from Piedmont is Asti, with an output of almost 60 million litres every year. Its DOCG covers Asti Spumante and the delicate Moscato d’Asti. Its relatively low alcohol, sweet grapey flavor and gentle bubbles make it a delightful aperitif or celebration wine that is enjoyed across the world; in fact its popularity is far greater abroad than in the region.
The best still white wine from the region is Gavi, made from the Cortese grape. Its recent promotion to DOCG has helped to ensure consistency of quality and the steely dry white is known to be an excellent food wine.
Piedmont DOCG wine appellations:
Alta Langa, Asti or Moscato d'Asti or Asti Spumante, Barbaresco, Barbera d'Asti, Barbera del Monferrato, Barolo, Brachetto d'Acqui or Acqui, Dogliani, Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba or Diano d'Alba, Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore or Ovada, Erbaluce di Caluso or Caluso, Gattinara, Gavi or Cortese di Gavi, Ghemme, Roero, Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato
Piedmont DOC wine appellations:
Alba, Albugnano, Barbera d'Alba, Boca, Bramaterra, Canavese, Carema, Cisterna d'Asti, Colli Tortonesi, Collina Torinese, Colline Novaresi, Colline Saluzzesi, Cortese dell'Alto Monferrato, Coste della Sesia, Dolcetto d'Acqui, Dolcetto d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Asti, Dolcetto di Ovada, Fara, Freisa d'Asti, Freisa di Chieri, Gabiano, Grignolino d'Asti, Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese, Langhe, Lessona, Loazzolo, Malvasia di Casorzo d'Asti, Malvasia di Castelnuovo don Bosco, Monferrato, Nebbiolo d'Alba, Piemonte, Pinerolese, Rubino di Cantavenna, Sizzano, Strevi, Terre Alfieri, Valli Ossolane, Valsusa, Verduno, Pelaverga or Verduno