Located in the northwest corner of Italy at the foothills of the Alps, Piedmont is very close in latitude to Bordeaux in France. The similarities pretty much end there!
The red Nebbiolo grape is king in the hilly region called Langhe. The famed wines of Barolo and Barbaresco are made totally from Nebbiolo. The grape creates a sneaky combination of finesse and power; aromatic, delicate aromas of rose petals, yet with distinctly muscular palate-staining tannins. These wines can be long-lived.
Other important red wines produced in the region are Barbera and Dolcetto. Wines made from Barbera are more delicate than and have less tannin and more acidity than Nebbiolo. Barbera is very similar to Chianti and like those wines is a nice match to tomato sauces.
Dolcetto means “little sweet one”, referring more to the size of the grape, and not the style of the wine. Its fresh, fruity, low-tannin profile reminds some of the Gamay grape used in the French wines of Beaujolais. Most Dolcetto wines are best consumed within two or three years of the vintage date.
Dry white wines are found in the region are typically made from Arneis or Cortese. Wines made of Cortese are typically labeled Gavi after the area in Piedmont in which they are made.
And one cannot leave Piedmont without mentioning the town of Asti. Yes, it’s true the sweet, sparkling wines hail from here. Asti, formally called Asti Spumante is made by the charmat method of production in which the wines undergo secondary fermentation in tank and then are bottled under pressure. They wines typically use a Champagne-style cork enclosure. Moscato d’Asti also is produced in this region and is made in a frizzante or slightly-sparkling style. These wines usually are sealed with cork or even screw caps (or stelvin).