Piedmont or Piemonte is one of the most recognizable wine regions in the world. It is home to the King and Queen of Nebbiolo…Barolo and Barbaresco. Barolo achieved one of Italy’s first DOCG labels in 1980. In addition to these household names, a surge in popularity of Moscato is also included in this region.
Piemonte is in the northwest corner of Italy sitting in the foothills of the Alps. Most of the vineyards are planted between 150 and 400 meters above sea level. Piemonte is consistently covered in a fog which in turn is ideal for ripening their main varietal Nebbiolo. Because of its mountainous terrain most vines are planted on hillsides. The south facing hills are dominated by Nebbiolo and Barbera while the cooler north facing hills are planted with Moscato and Dolcetto.
Piemonte is split into 17 different DOCG’s which include Barolo and Barbaresco. Other notable DOCG’s are Asti, Cortese di Gavi, and Roero where the varietal Arneis is planted. Surprisingly enough Barbera is the most widely planted grape in the region. The majority of white wine production is Moscato done in the Frizzante style. A common practice in Piemonte is to see the varietal and town listed when labeled; for example, Barbera (grape) d’Alba (town).
Relatively small areas in size; Barolo and Barbaresco claim the prestige of the wine region. Barolo is comprised of 5 sub-zones that are about 7 miles long and 5 miles wide at the largest point. These small sub-regions can create distinctively different flavors although Barolo is the larger, masculine, more tannic version of Nebbiolo. Barbaresco is only 10 miles from Barolo but it generally displays a lighter, less tannic version of Nebbiolo. Barbaresco is split into 3 separate sub-zones and is even smaller than Barolo.
Barbera and Dolcetto make up the majority of the other red wine production in Piemonte. Barbera tends to make a full bodied but much less tannic wine than Nebbiolo. The wines are usually fruity and much more approachable at a younger age. The same can be said about Dolcetto. Occupying the north facing slopes, Dolcetto is a light, fruity low acid and tannin wine that is ideally drank younger. This cements its place as a good everyday drinking option for the Piedmontese.