If the Olympics had an event for passion, there is no doubt the Italians would sweep the medal stand, with the Greeks and French making a good showing. The focus of all this Italian fervor is often focused on three things: their soccer, pasta and wine. As luck would have it, Italy’s situated in a part of that world with exceptional topography and ideal weather conditions that are extremely favorable to growing and nurturing grapes. Nowhere is this more true than in Piedmont, the most important wine region in all of Italy’s eight provinces.
(Looks like a “Game of Thrones” set, but is actually a present-day working vineyard in Langhe, Piedmont. *Sigh*)
To get to know Italian wine is to get to know the grapes of Piedmont which are the most, in a word, mozzafiato (Italian for “breathtaking”). The grapes listed below are by no means the only ones that love being made in this region, but they are the out-and-out A-listers. Like your besties, these Piemontese grapes–and the wines wrung from them–are the ones you can rely on, the ones you’ll keep coming back to, the ones you’ll never get enough of.
Out of sub-alpine hillsides cloaked in fog, Nebbiolo grapes get all the love they need to produce sublimely soft, fruity and floral wines. They’re are also well-known for making Barolo wine (what 19th century royalty drank) and Barberesco, an elegantly confident wine. If you love the taste of this noble grape, the regions of Ghemme, Gattinara, Langhe, and Sondrino grow it like no other.
This grape name means “little sweet one” which is fitting, as this wine likes to be drunk young so its character really shines through. It’s considered an everyday wine, so enjoy its fruity vibrancy whenever, wherever. When shopping for this lovely wine, look out for the towns of Ovada, Dogliano, Diano D’Alba in Pidemont–where this grape really thrives.
50% of all Piedmont’s wine production is amassed from this humble grape. As of 2000, it was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy. Rich and light-bodied simultaneously, this wine is meant to be enjoyed young, and it’s easy on the wallet–making it just as much “the wine of the people” today as it was centuries ago. Its most favored regions are: Alba, Aosta, Asti, Monferrato, Puglia.