Piedmont Wine Tour
What you’ll uncover in Piedmont are incredible vistas overlooking endless hillside vineyards dotted with medieval villages, castles, and off in the distance the Alpine peaks. The local cuisine is one-of-a-kind with prized white truffles, and without question, a perfect destination for wine lovers.
And we had the pleasure of hosting another wine tour to Piedmont in November 2022, where we tasted some of the most famous Italian wines including Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto, Gavi, and ‘The King of Wines’ Barolo.
Piedmont is a vast region full of sub-territories and microclimates. Every slope seems to faces a different direction, and the conditions determine the grape variety planted. It has undoubtedly set a high bar with the most DOCGs (17), which accounts for Italy’s largest percentage of this highest quality classification. Another interesting note is that no wine can be bottled as IGT, wines that didn’t meet the regions Italian wine rules and regulations. This plays a big part in why it is considered one of Italy’s most traditional regions.
The Wines of Piedmont
Piedmont’s primary grape is Nebbiolo, which is used to make the esteemed wines of Barolo and Barbaresco named after the villages. Other wines of the region are named after the grape. Notable red grapes are Barbera and Dolcetto that make a bit lighter and more everyday drinking wines. Barbara has become one of my favorite pizza wines; its high acidity balances the fruit, and the low tannins make it so food-friendly.
Despite their proximity to each other, Barolo and Barbaresco are quite different because of the soil composition and the climate. Barolo wine is known for its big and bold taste profile, while Barbaresco is a bit softer, more elegant with finesse. Barbaresco’s fertile land with calcareous clay, lower elevations, and the proximity to the Tanaro river makes it a bit warmer. These characteristics translate to less but always present tannins, with aromas that tend to be more floral.
We based ourselves in Alba, a charming town in the province of Cuneo and is a foodies delight! Its narrow streets are lined with all manner of gastronomic shops, and of course it’s the centre for truffles. Alba is considered the capital of the UNESCO Heritage area of the Langhe Hills, and is famous for its white truffle, peach and wine production.
Our wine tour actually started with a cookery class – and why not?! Getting hands on with the fine food of this region – in a winery no less – was a great way to break the ice, have some fun and get to grips with making pasta, accompanied by some fine wines produced by the winery.
Over the course of the next five days, we visited wineries in Barolo and Barbaresco and tasted the distinct difference between the wines, despite them being so close to each other. We also had the privilege of going truffle hunting on a private estate, hoping that our trust hound might pick out some of the finest white truffles which are so highly sought after. But alas, it was not to be. That didn’t stop us being able to taste them though, as our wonderful host has prepared a home-cooked meal of pasta with white truffles, and a selection of wines from Monferrato. Yum!
We also explored the wineries in Roero and Monferrato, and took some time out to visit the wonderful market in Alba before enjoying a wine tasting at a prestigious, historic winery in the hills between Asti and Alba, who are best known for their stunning Barberas. And whilst this region is renowned for its red wines, we mustn’t forget the wonderful whites too! Our final day took us to Gavi. This is white wine country based on the local Cortese grapes, and was a refreshing contrast to some of the ‘big’ reds we’d tasted during the rest of the tour.
Piedmont, we love you, and feel like we’ve only just scraped the surface of everything you have to offer. We’ll be back!