Piedmont is one of the Italian regions with the production of qualitatively richer wine: wine in Piedmont is not only an alcoholic drink to drink as an accompaniment to meals, it is culture and tradition deeply rooted in the territory, experience and knowledge handed down from generation to generation . But above all Piedmont is the maximum expression of the variety of the territory and the perfect and sought after terroirs.
A look at the Piedmont area
The Piedmont territory in its balanced alternation between mountainous, hilly and flat areas is particularly varied and enhances the concept of terroir. The continental climate, characterized by important temperature ranges together with favorable exposures, leads to the ripening of late vines such as Nebbiolo, giving the wines the structure and longevity they require to achieve excellence.
A journey to discover the wines of Piedmont
Piedmontese wines are undisputed children of the marked territorial variety and of the care and attention of the winemakers for the terroir and tradition. However, one should not think of Piedmont as an immobile wine region, firm in the past and tied to the ancestral processes: it is precisely here that excellent and deeply classic wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco have found different forms, innovations of style and experimental rereadings.
The Piedmont wine-growing areas, splendid destinations for wine tourism, are four.
The wines of Northern Piedmont
Those who venture into northern Piedmont soon realize that the wine area is divided in two by the Sesia river and that the most common grape variety is Nebbiolo, locally called Spanna: this gives life to the so-called "Nebbiolo del Nord", more fresh and less structured than the Langhe cousins.
The soil here is particularly acidic, rich in iron and poor in limestone. There are two DOCGs in the area of particular prestige: Gattinara and Ghemme.
The Erbaluce, a white grape variety, is widespread in northern Piedmont.
Monferrato and Barbera
Further south of the Sesia river, between Asti and Alessandria, there is the Monferrato area famous for the cultivation of vines such as Barbera, from which Barbera del Monferrato DOCG is obtained, and Cortese, from which DOCG Gavi or Courteous to Gavi.
This is where the Monferrato Astigiano Wine Route begins, which crosses the hilly heart of Piedmont and reaches Asti.
The Asti and its sparkling wine
After a stop in Monferrato, it is a good idea to head towards the Asti area, the Piedmontese home of sparkling wines. The vinification with bubbles covers 1/3 of the production of sparkling wines in Italy and, while you get lost among the gentle slopes, the castles, the artisan shops and the charming farmhouses, we must not forget that here are 3 basic DOCG residences: Asti or Moscato d'Asti, Brachetto d'Aqui and Barbera d'Asti.
Roero and Langhe: the beating heart of wine in Piedmont
The journey through the multiple terroirs of Piedmont continues as we immerse ourselves in the suggestive Roero, which extends along the left bank of the Tanaro in the north-eastern area of the province of Cuneo, and in the Langhe, straddling the provinces of Cuneo and Asti.
In the Langhe the soils are generally calcareous and moraine but in the Barolo area a distinction is made between:
• Helvetian soil, consisting of yellowish gray compact sands and dark soils; this type of soil gives rise to more robust and tannin-rich wines, particularly suitable for aging;
• Tortonian soil, composed of light soils and gray-bluish marls, which contributes to the creation of fragrant, velvety and elegant but less long-lived wines.
The main vine is Nebbiolo which here finds one of the highest interpretations through DOCG such as Barbaresco, Barolo and Roero.
Viticulture in Piedmont
Piedmont, due to its territorial and climatic characteristics, cultivates a large number of black grape varieties that find a welcoming home in the soils of the region. However, it does not disdain white berry cultivation.
The black grape varieties of Piedmont are:
• Barbera, whose typicality here is acidity;
• Nebbiolo, the most loved and fundamental variety for Piedmontese wine culture. It has a late ripening, needs a lot of light and is harvested in late October: this guarantees a particularly elegant tannin. The main biotypes present are Lampia, Michet and Rosè;
The white grape varieties of Piedmont are:
• Muscat Blanc;
A summary of the main DOCGs of Piedmont
The Piedmont DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin) are many, testifying to the peculiarities of the single territory. Here are the main 11.
In Northern Piedmont there are DOCGs:
• Gattinara, produced with at least90% of Spanna grapes (local name of Nebbiolo), must age at least 35 months;
• Ghemme, produced with at least 85% Spanna grapes and must age at least 34 months.
In Monferrato the DOCG are mentioned:
• Barbera del Monferrato, only Superior. It is made up of at least 85% Barbera grapes, from Freisa and / or Grignolino and / or Dolcetto;
• Gavi or Cortese di Gavi, white produced from Cortese grapes.
Three DOCGs have been identified in the Asti area:
• Asti, divided into two different types: Moscato d'Asti and Asti Spumante, the most popular aromatic sparkling wine in the world;
• Brachetto d'Aqui, from Brachetto grapes, also present in the sparkling variety;
• Barbera d'Asti, produced starting from a minimum percentage of Barbera at 90%.
In the Roero and Langhe areas the main DOCG are:
• Barbaresco, produced on Tortonian soils and obtained from Nebbiolo grapes of the Michet, Lampia and Rosé biotypes;
• Barolo, produced on both Tortonian and Helvetian soils from the same biotypes as Barbaresco. Its typicality is tannin, but there is a greater softness than in the past due to the widespread passage in barrique. Worthy of mention is Barolo Chinato, flavored with cinchona bark;
• Roero, both in red version with at least 95% Nebbiolo, and white from Arneis at 95%;
• Dolcetto di Dogliani, obtained from pure Dolcetto.