Piedmont (or Piemonte) wines are made in the northwestern corner of Italy. With the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Alps to the north and west, the Piedmont region enjoys a continental climate. This means cold winters and very warm, dry summers, with dense fog common in the fall. Most of the highly acclaimed Piedmont wines are from the south-central, Alba area, and also from the Asti and Alessandria, slightly farther east and north.
The region’s most lauded wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, come from the Nebbiolo grape, whose ancestral home is Piedmont. The best Barolo and Barbaresco wines are produced in small quantities on a number of mostly south-facing ridges sitting above the October fog (nebbia) in the Langhe hills around Alba (also the country’s white truffle capital). The considerably less expensive reds Dolcetto and Barbera have garnered wide acclaim in export markets in the last ten years--due in part to the elevated price tags of Barolo and Barbaresco.
The growing popularity of Piedmont gastronomy has also contributed to the interest in local wines. The innate acidity and taut structure of Piedmont wines make for an invigorating backdrop to the region’s hearty meat dishes. The wines’ complex earthy/ floral personality also works amicably with the other local star, the truffle. As the worlds of good wine and good food continue to merge, an area known for both is bound to prosper.
In terms of whites, Gavi is the most popular from Piedmont and it’s also the most widely available in the U.S. Gavi is produced almost entirely from the Cortese grape planted in the province of Alessandria, in the region’s extreme south. Gavi di Gavi wines are produced in vineyards bordering the town of Gavi. Most all of these whites are very dry, and feature a mid-level complexity and concentration. The best of them are crisp but they commonly come up short on verve and grip, and are best enjoyed early.
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: The aromas in this wine are amazing with truffle, blackberry and wet earth. Full body, chewy and very tannic. Shows the style of the vintage. Yet a benchmark for 2006. Drink or hold.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 96 points: Sandrone's 2006 Barolo Le Vigne possesses awesome balance as intricately woven layers of aromas and flavors come together in the glass. The 2006 is an especially powerful Le Vigne boasting a solid core of floral red...
Wine Spectator, 97 points: A terrific red from beginning to end. Aromas of cherry, licorice,
sandalwood and tar start the fireworks, while the intense flavors
and juicy texture augment them. Long, complete and complex,
Stephen Tanzer's IWC, 94 points: Good full, deep red. Sexy aromas of minerals, truffle and ineffable rose petal. Suave and lush, showing a surprisingly open-knit texture that partly masks the wine's serious underpinning of fine tannins. Very long and...
Stephen Tanzer's IWC, 95 points: Good deep red. Captivating aromas of red fruits and woodsy underbrush; a real essence of nebbiolo. Then silky and suave, combining compelling sweetness of raspberry and strawberry fruit and an impression of sheer size and...
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