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.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 96 points: Fruit for the 2010 Barbaresco Vigneto Valeirano is harvested at 450 meters above sea level in the Neive township. These conditions shape a radically different character. This wine is precise and sharp with finely etched...
jamessuckling.com, 96 points: This is a red with fascinating aromas of strawberry skin, dried flowers and truffles. Full body with silky tannins and wonderful balance and finesse. It caresses every inch of your palate. Try in 2017.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous, 94 points: The 2010 Barolo Vigna del Gris is beautiful, layered and expressive. Sweet tobacco, mint, licorice, crushed flowers and plums meld together in a supple, gracious wine for the year. Sweet rose petals and mint add an...
Stephen Tanzer's IWC, 94 points: Good medium red. Less expressive on the nose than the Briccotto, hinting at ripe, musky plum, black raspberry, menthol and tobacco. Then smooth and sweet in the mouth, but with terrific energy keeping the red fruit and...
jamessuckling.com, 95 points: Lots of flowers, stem and berry character on the nose. It’s full body, with chewy tannins and a long, long finish. Big and powerful for the vintage. Needs at least five years of bottle age. Try in 2019.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: The 2010 Costa Russi is a vineyard-designate “Barbaresco” (although the wine’s addition of five percent Barbera prohibits it from being called such) that opens to even more profound depth and generosity. As is typical of...
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