Piemonte, meaning "at the foot of the mountain," is a vast region in northern Italy with Turin as its capital, nestled between various mountain ranges. Bordered by the Alps to the north and west and the Ligurian Apennines to the south, Piemonte is shielded from the maritime climate, favoring a continental climate.
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The viticultural history of Piemonte dates back to antiquity, with Greeks introducing winemaking through Ligurian ports. Over the centuries, Piemonte has evolved into one of Italy's premier wine regions, boasting an impressive seven DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) classifications and 37 DOCs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), collectively responsible for 70% of the region's total wine production.
Encompassing 58,000 hectares, Piemonte cultivates a variety of grape varieties, primarily indigenous. The renowned Nebbiolo grape takes center stage, contributing to the iconic Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, and Ghemme, all awarded DOCG status. Additionally, Barbera, gaining popularity, and Dolcetto, praised for its soft and round character, form the foundation for numerous red wines.
Internationally, Piemonte is recognized for Asti Spumante, an exquisite aromatic sparkling wine crafted from the Muscat grape near the city of Asti. This delightful bubbly is a traditional accompaniment to panettone and other sweets.
The key wine zones lie south of the Po River, notably in the provinces of Cuneo (Langa and Roero) and Asti and Alessandria, with Alba as the commercial hub. Barolo, produced around the village of the same name, is dubbed the "king of wines, wine of kings," reflecting its association with ancient royal houses. Barolo, known for its robust character, may remain tannic even after extended aging but often transforms into a sensation of flavor and aroma.
Similarly, Barbaresco, from the nearby village, also produces robust red wines from Nebbiolo. Advances in winemaking techniques and a new generation of vintners have made Barolo and Barbaresco more accessible and balanced while preserving the Nebbiolo grape's original character.
Gattinara and Ghemme, from the northern provinces, share the need for aging and pair excellently with various meat and game dishes.
Around Alba, the DOC Dolcetto d'Alba produces soft wines from the Dolcetto grape, gaining popularity in Italy and beyond. Barbera wines from Alba and Asti, under DOC Barbera d'Alba and Barbera d'Asti, respectively, are highly regarded, with Barbera emerging as a worthy rival to Nebbiolo after some years of aging.
The Bracchetto d'Acqui, a red sparkling wine, enjoys DOCG status and is produced east of Asti, consumed predominantly in the region as a dessert wine.
The Gavi or Cortese di Gavi, the final DOCG, is a delicate dry white wine made from the Cortese grape in the province of Alessandria, ideal for pairing with various shellfish and seafood.
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