- Barbera D'Asti
- Dolcetto D'Alba
- Langhe Nebbiolo
- Barbera D'Alba
- Nebbiolo D'Alba
THROUGH THE HISTORY
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.
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. Although the traditional Nebbiolo-based wines were admired by purveyors of cult wines, they often received criticism because it was felt that their tight structure and complexity made them difficult wines for modern palates to understand.
However the modern versions, particularly those made in 1996 and the series of excellent vintages that followed, seem to have broken away from the traditional style. Although they are still rich, complex and capable of great age, their fruit is more upfront and consequently they are more approachable.
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. Some youthful sparkling versions are also produced. The Brachetto grape is used to make the sweet, gently bubbly Brachetto d’Acqui. Characterful tannic reds and luscious rosés are made Grignolino and the vigorous Freisa. Wines made from Freisa tend to gain mixed reactions from critics, with some praising its individuality, particularly in the slightly sparkling and sweet versions, and others less appreciative of its tannic and deeply perfumed wines.
The most popular wine globally to come from Piedmont is the humble 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. Such is its success that Italy has recently experienced a shortage of Moscato di Canelli grapes. Some dry sparkling wines are also produced in the region although the Chardonnay and Pinot grapes used in their production are often grown in other regions. Both the classic Champagne method and the tank method are used.