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.
Wine Spectator, 90 points: This is pure with blackberry and black cherry flavors that run deep. Coats the palate lightly with a glycerine feel offset by bright acidity and a touch of tannins that add a pleasant astringency on the finish. Drink...
jamessuckling.com, 91 points: A Barbera with a solid core of fruit that envelops a strawberry and grapy character. Full body with bright acidity and a clean and fruity finish. Drink now.
Wine Spectator, 92 points: This is enticing for the creamy texture that embraces the cherry,
plum, leather and underbrush notes. Has power, along with dense,
tightly wound tannins that lend a burly feel. Best from 2018
through 2029. — B.S.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points: The 2011 Barbaresco opens to a dark garnet color and shows immediate opulence and intensity where its aromas are concerned. There’s an undeniable level of finesse and focus here that goes against all the things you...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: A pure expression of Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2011 Darmagi delivers loads of varietal character with tangy aromas of wild sage and rosemary oil followed by extra dark color and saturation. There’s a deep sense of...
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: What a decadent nose of white truffles, meat and game with dark fruits too. Full body, chewy and round tannins and great depth of fruit. Layered texture. Very long and intense. Better in 2017.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: With fruit from Serralunga d'Alba, the 2011 Langhe Sperss is a wine of profound beauty. This is a velvety and caressing expression with dark fruit layers followed by kirsch, cassis, leather, balsam herb and white...
Wine Enthusiast, 95 points: Mature dark berry, cake spice, baked earth,
leather and a whiff of game are just some of the aromas
you’ll find on this impressive wine. The chewy
palate offers ripe black cherry, crushed raspberry,
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: An opulent style of 2011 with dried fruit verging on prunes, dried flowers and licorice. Violets too. Full-bodied, chewy and very powerful. Long, long finish. Fruit and tar aftertaste. Great wine. Better in 2019.
jamessuckling.com, 97 points: This is fabulous Barolo with burnt orange, blackberry, meat, earth, and fresh herb. Full-bodied, round and velvety. So flavorful and crazy. Drink now. Why wait? But it will age wonderfully.