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Wines from Piedmont

Some facts about Piedmontese wines

Piedmont is a region located in the North-West of Italy, wedged between Lombardy in the East, Liguria in the South, Valle d'Aosta and the French border in the West. The Italian wines of Piedmont are among the highest quality in the country and the best known in the world. This northern geographical position gen...

Some facts about Piedmontese wines

Piedmont is a region located in the North-West of Italy, wedged between Lombardy in the East, Liguria in the South, Valle d'Aosta and the French border in the West. The Italian wines of Piedmont are among the highest quality in the country and the best known in the world. This northern geographical position generally gives them a low to medium concentration in colour, tannins and alcohol; on the other hand, this same location gives them great aromatic strength and flavoury acidity. Piedmontese wines are also renowned thanks to the strong reputation of the local gastronomy, whether it be the high quality primeur products or the famous white truffle from Alba. The region is highly productive and of high quality, with no less than 42 DOC (equivalent to the French AOC) and a record in Italy - 16 DOCG (Super AOC).

History of wine production in Piedmont

Piedmont has a rich wine history. Its proximity to the ancient port of Genoa has opened up the Mediterranean trade routes to it since the 13th century, when Nebbiolo was first mentioned. Already at that time Milan consumed a large part of the wines produced in Piedmont, mostly sweet wines. It was not until the birth of the Italian nation that the shift to dry wines began, under the impetus of the "first" Prime Minister Cavour, who settled in Turin in 1850. Barolos and other Barberas became dry, dark and powerful, while the red varieties Brachetto and Freisa perpetuated the tradition of sweet and slightly sparkling red wines. The agricultural and technical revolution was thus set in motion in Piedmont following the phylloxera crisis and the beginning of the 20th century saw the definitive advent of Barolo as one of the great wines of the modern era.

Geography of Piedmont wines

Piedmont essentially has three distinct wine-growing regions. The first and most renowned is in the hills south of Turin, where the greatest Piedmontese red wines (Barolo and Barbaresco) can be found. The second is around the Alessandria region, south-east of Turin, in the foothills of the Ligurian Alps. Here, the main grape variety is white, Cortese, and produces dry white wines that are very mineral and can be kept for a long time. The third is at the foot of the Swiss Alps in the northern part of Piedmont, at the gateway to Lake Maggiore, and produces wines mainly from Nebbiolo (Gattinara) and sometimes supplemented with Bonarda. The Piedmontese climate is continental and cool with mainly clayey-limestone and sandy soils.

Viticulture in Piedmont

Piedmont is a vast wine-producing region in Italy, particularly renowned for the high quality of its wines, hence its large number of DOCGs! The latter reward both the ancestral tradition of production methods and the asserted typicity of these red, white, sweet or sparkling wines.

Main red grape varieties and appellations of Piedmont

The best known red grape variety in Piedmont is undoubtedly Nebbiolo, the exclusive or majority grape variety in the following appellations : Barolo DOCG, Barbaresco DOCG, Ghemme DOCG, Gattinara DOCG. It produces moderately rich, easily digestible wines with a garnet colour that quickly turns to copper. Its tannic structure and good acidity give it great ageing potential (20+ years). Barbera is found in the Barbera d'Asti DOCG and Barbera d'Alba DOC. The terms Superiore indicate a higher alcohol level and Riserva a longer ageing in barrels.

White grape varieties and appellations of Piedmont

Moscato is the traditional white grape variety of Piedmont. It is present in the Asti DOCG and Moscato d'Asti DOCG wines, which have the particularity of being slightly sparkling, low in alcohol and semi-dry. They are obtained by means of a single fermentation (alcoholic and effervescent at the same time) in pressurised stainless steel vats. They are very light, very expressive wines, perfect as an aperitif in summer and accompanying desserts with little sugar.

Other Piedmont specialities

Like many regions in Italy, Piedmont is brimming with producers of the traditional grappa, a brandy made from grape pomace. The marc is the hat full of skins, stalks and pips remaining at the bottom of the vat after the juice has drained. The marc is heated and the alcohol vapours are collected and cooled to become liquid again. The most elegant grappas are invecchiate (aged in oak barrels) and Riserva if aged more than 18 months.

Alfavin.ch is proud to work with some of the best producers in Piedmont:

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Subcategories

  • Barolo wines


    Barolo : the King of Italian wines

    Barolo: "The King of wines, the wine of Kings". Discover the secrets of Barolo and the region of Piedmont, known for its white truffle and its vast landscapes.

    To obtain the full article with images in pdf format, please click here

    The history of Barolo


    Until the middle of the 19th century, wines produced in the Barolo area were rather mild. The climate and vigor of the winters prevented the fermentations from being pushed to the end, leaving residual sugar behind. In the 1830s, at the instigation of Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour and Giulia Colbert Falletti, the last Marquise of Barolo, great efforts were made with the help of external advisers to raise the quality of the wines produced.

    With its great qualities, the Barolo quickly became Piedmont's ambassador in all the European Royal Courts. It became "the King of wines, the wine of Kings".

    In the middle of the 20th century, the production was dominated by the big traders who bought grapes and wine in the area and assembled them to make a rather common wine. The small owners then began to produce and bottle wines from fragmented harvests. This approach resulted in a referencing and classification of the various vineyards and plots in the region. This classification was the result of a long process that lasted several decades. Today, the "Consortio di Tutella Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani" is responsible for the management and development of appellations in the Langhe region.

    Geography and appellations of Barolo

    The Barolo area is located in the Langhe hills between the Alps and the Apennines. The name Langhe, seems to come from a term of Celtic origin which means "tongue of land" referring to the shape and layout of the various hills and deep valleys of the region.

    The Barolo is produced in the 11 towns of Barolo, La Morra, Monforte, Serralunga d'Alba, Castiglione Falletto, Novello, Grinzane Cavour, Verduno, Diano d'Alba, Cherasco and Roddi.

    To obtain the Barolo DOCG appellation, the maximum yield per hectare is 56 hectolitres, strictly from the Nebbiolo grape variety, and the wine must have a minimum alcohol content of 13 °. The ageing in wood must last at least 2 years and at least one year in bottle. For the Riserva versions, the ageing must last at least 5 years in total, including 3 years in wood.

    The sale of bottled wine can only be done from January 1st after the 4th year of the harvest, and the sixth year for the Riserva.

     

    Varietal Nebbiolo

    The name Nebbiolo comes from the Italian word Nebbia which means fog, simply because the Nebbiolo is harvested relatively late, when the first fogs of autumn appear.

    The Nebbiolo requires a good southern exposure and good soil, clay-limestone type. The vine buds early (mid-April) and matures later than most other varieties, around mid-October. For a proper ripening of the grapes, an altitude between 200 and 450 m above sea level and significant temperature fluctuations between day and night are an advantage.

    Nebbiolo produces powerful wines, tannic, rich in alcohol and with good acidity. It has all the characteristics to produce wines with a strong ageing potential.

    Important differences exist between the Barolos coming from various soils. Simply put, there are two main types of soil on either side of the road from Alba to Barolo.

    • The first type (limestone marl) is relatively compact, with cooler and more fertile soils, which characterize the villages of Verduno, La Morra, Barolo and Novello, producing relatively fine wines, fruity and aromatic, which are more supple than their neighbors on the opposite side;
    • The second type (sandstone and clay soils) is less compact, with poorer and less fertile soils, which characterize the villages of Montforte d'Alba and Serralunga d'Alba, producing structured and intense wines, which age more slowly.
    • The vineyard of Castiglione Falletto, for its part, is a hybrid because it combines the characteristics of these two soils.

    Modern School and Traditional School: the Barolo War


    In the 80s, the global trend for more fruity, less tannic wines, accessible at a younger age, prompted a group of producers to revise their winemaking method.

    The two big "schools" can be distinguished: "traditional" and "modern".

    The traditional school can be summarized as follows:

    • A maceration of several weeks, under wood in large truncated tanks, or in concrete, with frequent cap punching and pressing
    • Only large containers (no stainless steel)
    • No temperature control
    • Long ageing in big oak casks from Slavonia


    The modern school, which has shaken up habits, adapted to the market of the 80s which favours fruity wines, dark, less tannic and drinkable at a younger age. Its approach:

    • Shorter maceration: from 2 to 14 days, in stainless steel vats
    • Control of fermentation temperatures
    • Automatic and frequent cap punching to maximize colour extraction and minimize hard tannin extraction.
    • Aged in barrels (about 225 l.) rather than in casks (about 1000 l.) with a large proportion of new wood.


    Today, many producers are adopting a more moderate approach, returning to the traditional school, whilst modernizing it. They represent the link between tradition and modernity, trying to take the best of each method in order to produce the most advanced and personalized wines possible, while leaving room for the soil and its expression, especially the ageing.

    What to eat with Barolo wine?

    To be enjoyed obviously with a beef with Barolo sauce or a mushroom risotto. Just PERFECT! 

    Our producers of Barolo wine:

    Cascina del Monastero : and its absolutely fantastic Barolo from the parcels Bricco Rocca, Bricco Luciani and Perno (village)
    Pio Cesare : The Barolo Pio Cesare is elaborated with the classic "formula" used by the old Barolo families to produce a wine that embraces and combines each of the unique characteristics of the different vineyards and terroirs of the Barolo region

    To obtain the full article with images in pdf format, please click here

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