Piedmont

Piedmont

Piedmont is, without fear of contradiction, Italy's most exciting wine region. Home to Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy's finest and most long-lived wines, being the ultimate expression of the world's greatest grape variety: Nebbiolo. OK, I might be going a bit far with that one, but it's my favourite. This variety has, perhaps even more so than Pinot Noir, an in-built ability to transmit its terroir into the glass with laser-like precision and clarity. Perhaps this is why there are 170 named, single-vineyards in Barolo alone (what we now call the Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive, or MGAs for short). Barolo is, without doubt, worthy of its title, 'The King of Wines, The Wine of Kings'.

The hills of The Langhe, where Barolo and Barbaresco are found, is also home to other wonderful varieties: Dolcetto is a delight when the winemaker can get the balance of tannins correct, Dogliani being the favoured zone; Barbera is juicy and fruitful with many examples reaching lofty heights of quality; Freisa is light but deliciously complex. There are white varieties too: Arneis is making some kind of come back, since it nearly disappeared entirely: Favorita is the local version of Vermentino; and of course, who could forget Moscato?

Elsewhere, the wines which are receiving the most attention, are those of Alto Piemonte: Gattinara, Ghemme, Sizzano, Fara and many other microscopic DOCs where you can often find pure Nebbiolos, or ocassionally mixed up with Vespolina and Uva Rara. These are not the 'poor man's Barolo', these are distinct wines, worthy of merit. There is also the ubiquitous Gavi di Gavi, one of the few Italian whites with a household name.

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