Piedmont, or Piemonte in Italian, is Italy’s most distinguished viticultural province. The region combines Alpine and Mediterranean zones, and houses more DOCGs (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita) than any other Italian wine region.
Barolo and Barbaresco, which are made from Nebbiolo grape, can only be made in a few villages in the region of Piedmont, but Nebbiolo is grown all over the region, not just in the villages that use it to create the high-end wines.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Nebbiolo is its scent — the wine actually smells of roses. In addition to this notable scent, the wine has a great amount of acidity, mouth-drying tannins and earthy flavours.
You might look for Dolcetto di Dogliani – also labelled simply Dogliani – for a more serious wine. Recently elevated to DOCG status, these wines are low-yielding, latepicked, super-selected, concentrated, (almost always) barrel-aged with a weight and structure foreign to other Dolcettos. Its dry austerity can often be mouth puckering, then you’ll need to add cellar time them. The result is a satisfying, rich, chunky, vigorous wine that opens a new and unsuspected window on the Langhe.
Other important, yet lesser known red varieties include: Grignolino (a red grape with intense flavors, brisk acidity and notable tannin and light body), Ruché (a rare aromatic red grape which offers intense aromas and flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon, lavender, peony and dark red cherries), Pelaverga (produces bright and perfumed wines, with accents of roses and violets, medium bodied and very fresh), Vespolina (bright with hints of sour red berries, violet and white pepper) and Freisa (perfumed, tannic and acidic – perfect for hearted dishes as stews and saussages)
White wines are slightly less famous, but equally distinct, food friendly, and versatile. Grapes like Arneis (complex with a soft bouquet of fresh flowers, ripe fruit and hazelnut), Cortese (moderate acidity and light, crisp flavors, medium bodied with notes of limes and greengage), Erbaluce (dry with noticeable acidity and apple aromas and flavors) and Moscato (elegant floral aromas and notes of peach, apricot and fresh grape juice) will give you a true taste of Piedmont whites.
While Barolo and Barbaresco are the stars, the number one grape planted in Piedmont is Barbera, and its most famous expressions come from the southeast neighboring communes of Asti and Alba. Barbera is crowd-pleasing with typically juicy black and red berry fruit, high acid, medium alcohol and soft tannins. The second most planted variety is Dolcetto, which generally offers more delicate fruit and lighter body, often benefiting from a light chill before serving.