For people who like to pop into the supermarket and pick up a bottle or two of wine every now and again, Italian wines will be no stranger to them. There’s the famous idea of Tuscany, the home of the ever-present Chianti. There’s Sicily, whose marketing co-ops have thrust their solid wines onto the £5 a bottle shelves. You think of Pinot Grigio, you might even think of Soave, but until you’ve been introduced to it, very few people think about Piemonte.
Piemonte is in the North West of Italy, bordered to the north by the Alps, the west by France, the south by the Mediterranean, and to the east by Lombardia (the state capital is Milan). As soon as you read that, you’ve got to imagine what a great place this is to for a holiday (Ryanair and Torino do direct flights to Torino fyi!). In the winter it snows, in the summer it knocks on the door of 40 degrees, and the spring and autumn are long and just breathtaking.
Right, enough of the travel blog. What does it mean for the wine? Well it’s long, warm growing season, and undulating hills and valleys facing every direction make it almost as perfect as it gets. It’s home to the famous (and famously fussy) Nebbiolo grape which makes Barolo and Barbaresco wines. It’s home to Corvina, which makes the Gavi whites. It’s home to Moscato which is used to make a fantastic fruity, sweet, sparkling dessert wine. And it’s home to our “New Wine This Week”, Barbera.
Piemonte’s history lends itself to some great food. It’s interchanged between being French and an independent state for hundreds of years, and now obviously it’s Italian. It’s great in that they have kept the best bits. They have the exceptional simplicity of Italian food, whilst also making one of the biggest ranges of antipasti in the country, and they have awesome cakes and pastries from the French influence. And they make wines from local grapes to fit all occasions.
One problem being is that even if you speak Italian, you could still be in trouble out in the country where the native Piemontese language is still spoken. If you end up there, you’ll get really good at sign language!
Other posts in NWTW Week 4: