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...
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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