A hedonist’s destination, the north western region of Piemonte is a flavour fanatic’s dream not only for the sumptuous wines but for its food too.
White truffles aside, Piemonte has a number of important wine claims to its name. For quality reds that means using the grape Nebbiolo, a rich, dark, tannic wine that’s produced most famously in around the towns of Barolo and Barbaresco. The wines of this name are big and rich yet once they are ready (the best of which after several years), they are beguiling and beautiful.
As well as Nebbiolo, other red grapes of note in this region are Barbera and Dolcetto, and if this grape name appears on the label together with the region name (e.g. Barbera d’Asti), that indicates the wine is believed to be of higher quality.
Being caught up in the romance of the classy red wines, it is sometimes easy to forget that Piemonte is also home to the very famous white sparkling wine of Asti and the even better Moscato d’Asti, a low alcohol but pretty and delicate fizzy wine that’s just as good a pick-me-up before or after a meal.
For still white wine, Gavi (made from Cortese) and Roero Arneis (Arneis is the grape) are probably the most noteworthy. The latter wine being much more fashionable of late.
Its proximity to the Alps, (seen in the translation of its name – the foot of the hills), Piemonte is pretty much surrounded by hills in an amphitheatre fashion, goes some way to explaining the hilly nature of this region, which gives the region a huge array of aspects, soils and essentially, microclimates providing diversity to its wines.