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Grapestalk Piedmont Wine

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Ingrid & Phil Blades moved from the UK to Piedmont, Italy in 2004 to live their dream of making wine. Here they talk about the indigenous wines and teroir of their beloved Piedmont

Ingrid & Phil Blades moved from the UK to Piedmont, Italy in 2004 to live their dream of making wine. Here they talk about the indigenous wines and teroir of their beloved Piedmont

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Grapestalk Piedmont Wine

  1. 1. The Association of Small Direct Wine Merchants grapestalk.co.uk Page 18 Wine Merchants On the Piedmont Wine Trail Langhe and Monfer- atto. Here you will leys, and the Ligurian Alps. The hills slope down from an altitude of 700-800 metres. find the increasingly Production of some of the most famous sought after big ‘‘Bs’’ of Piedmont wine, wines takes place in this region such as Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera. From the Barolo and Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, and nearby city of Asti you can easily explore Dolcetto. the upper and lower Monferatto, regions The Monferrato vine growing area is sub- which grow the highest number of DOC divided into two distinct areas. The Upper wines Monferrato, differing from the usual geo- Astesana, the ancient land around Asti, is graphical use of the terms "upper" and one of the most fertile areas of the prov- "lower," is the southern part, and has ince of Asti, with over 50 closely con- lower altitudes [average of 350 meters] in nected towns and cities producing a third comparison to the hills of Asti. The slopes of Piedmont ’’s wine. Delicious Barbera, are steeper and the valleys less marked. aromatic Moscato, the splendid Brachetto The towns of Ovada and Gavi are the and the famous Italian Spumante are all provincial capitals of winemaking. There is produced here. There are over 300 winer- considerable production of Barbera del ies, mostly private and some co-operative, Monferrato and Moscato d'Asti, and two available for tastings and purchases. brands of the esteemed white Cortese The Astesana Wine Roads wine: Alto Monferrato and di Gavi. Also Phil & Ingrid Blades noteworthy are the richly flavoured Dol- Despite the quality and number of varietals The wine roads (strada del vino), have cetto di Acqui and di Ovada, and the lesser many of Piedmont’’s wonderful wines are eight protected routes running along known (mostly due to modest production) not well known outside Italy. So it pro- peaceful secondary roads with inspiring but appreciated and prized by connois- vides a fabulous base for a wine tour. Pied- views. These are called: Colli Astiane, Bric- seurs, Brachetto d'Acqui dessert wine. mont’’s protective inner ring created by the chi, Lauretum, Canelli and the Land of Lower Monferrato is made up of a system Alps and the Apennine mountains, sup- Gold, Colline del Nizza, Castles, Langa of hills with elevations reaching 700 meters ports many different terrains. For example Astigiana and the Colli di Alferi. The starting or finishing your tour in Aosta, Castles route passes the vineyards of Phil and is the area with the highest density of & Ingrid Blades, in the town of Castel- grape vines. Asti the provincial capital has near Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc), allows for hundreds of years been the centre for you to sample wines from grapes grown in nuovo Belbo. wines of high interest. These wines include some of the highest slopes in Europe. Al- This area is also well known for its artisan Moscato introduced several centuries ago, ternatively the beautiful Italian Lake area production of sweets and desserts, and you Barbera, already well known in the 1700s, around Lago Maggiore, produces the lesser really need to try the delicious Amaretti Freisa, known a little bit everywhere but known Gattinara and Ghemme wines. Of products which are made in Mombaruzzo. limited in expansion, black Malvasia and course no wine tour in Piedmont would be Piedmont’’s wine growing history complete without driving and or walking This table provides information to help you match is ancient in origin with the through the venerable vineyards of the the major appellations of the region with the grape Greeks being the first to bring quality wines to the region. From Type Wine Grapes Used Liguria they expanded into Pied- Red Barolo Nebbiolo mont bringing vine shoots and cuttings establishing the first vine- Red Barbaresco Nebbiolo yards. Romans continued to culti- Red Barbera Barbera vate fine wines but with the fall of the Roman Empire, wine making Red Dolcetto Dolcetto in the region went into a period Red Bonarda Bonarda [aka Croatina] of decline. Despite the barbarian Red Ghemme Nebbiolo invasions, traditions did survive and the growth of the grapevine Red Gattinara Nebbiolo or Bonarda continued after the beginning of Red Frizzante Brachetto Brachetto the second millennium. Red Grignolino Grignolina Piedmontese vine growing occurs predominately in the two large White Frizzante Moscato d’’Asti Moscato areas known as the Lange and White Gavi or Cortese Cortese Monferrato. The Langhe is a re- White Roero Arneis Arneis gion full of splendid, hills, bound by the Tanaro and Bormida val- White Spumante Moscato
  2. 2. The Association of Small Direct Wine Merchants grapestalk.co.uk Page 19 Wine Merchants Piedmont side of Italy its secret is being discovered with a resultant growth in its popularity and oenological interest. It can be young Grignolino, considered one of the most and fresh, ready to drink immediately or refined wines of Monferrato. classical and full of vigour for up 8-10 years. If the label bears the term When all the DOC and DOCG wines ““Superiore”” it means the Barbera d’’Asti from Astesana with their various types and has enjoyed a prolonged maturing process sub-denominations factored in there are usually of three years but a minimum of over 47 types of wording possible on the one year, six months of which must have wine labels. It is no wonder that people been in wooden casks. can get confused about what to buy. The following descriptions of some of the main Barbera Del Monferrato –– This area claims grape varietals may help you understand the Barbera grape as its own. A dry, the differences. vaguely semi-sweet, full to medium bodied wine usually effervescent or sparkling that Vini Rossi - the Red Wines leaves the palate pleasantly velvety. It is a Barbera - The Barbera grape occupies ruby red colour of varying intensity. Good nearly 35% of Piedmont ’’s 53,000 hectares vintages are aged up to four years. It pairs of vineyards. In recent years creative wine well with all meats including chicken and growers and producers have been adapting can complement spicy cheeses when aged. and fizzy. It is produced both as sparkling their management of this versatile grape to Its light froth that results from natural [Spumante] and semi-sparkling [Frizzante] satisfy a wide range of tastes and demands. fermentation makes it a good accompani- versions. Piedmont’’s provinces of Asti and Alessan- ment with beef stews. Grignolino - is one of the great aristocratic dria provide optimum conditions for the Piemonte Bonarda –– This ruby red wine wines of Piedmont , it has been around Barbera grape and it is suspected to have made from a traditional Piedmontese since the 18th century and probably the originated from here. A high proportion of grape that has been around since the 16th grapes were used in other wines as early as the best Barbera wines come from three century. It is best cultivated in very ex- the 16th century. The wine's production DOCs [Denominazione di Origine Con- posed sites, which perhaps explains why it area used to be quite extensive but the trollata]: Barbera d’’Alba DOC, Barbera del is currently only grown in small amounts spread of vine-destroying parasites Monferrato DOC and Barbera d’’Asti in this region. The Bonarda grape how- throughout Europe led to big reduction in DOCG (note promotion to DOCG in ever has been exported to other parts of the cultivation of Grignolino because it 2008). Barbera d’’Alba tends to be what the world and is used increasingly in was more sensitive to such pests than you most frequently see in export markets blended wines. This is a full bodied wine other types of grapes. Among its famous as these are the Barbera wines made by the with a long lasting bouquet and a fragrance admirers is Giovanni Lanza, the prime well exported Barolo and Barbaresco pro- that comes with a subtle hint of almond. It minister at the time of the unification of ducers from the Langhe region. is slightly tannic but with less acidity than Italy and King Umberto I preferred it to Barbera d’’Asti is one of the most impor- its near neighbour, the Barbera grape and any other wine on his table. It is produced it is more rounded and softer. in the hilly zone centred around the town tant wines of Astensana. Linked with an- of Asti . Only hilly vineyards with appro- cient farming traditions, the grapes are Piemonte Brachetto –– This is the red priate slopes and exposures are considered harvested quite late [early October]. This cousin of the white Moscato grape. A great suitable for production. It is a light ruby wine is sold in various forms and is in- Piedmontese desert wine whose produc- red coloured wine with a tendency to de- creasingly becoming the choice of knowl- tion is limited but its scarce quantity is velop orange tones with aging and mellow- edgeable consumers. Although the compensated by its excellent quality. It ing. Its aroma is delicate and is characteris- ‘‘Barbera’’ label is not yet well known out- comes from 18 communes in tically floral with forest fruit overtones. the province of Asti and eight in the province of Alessandria . Barolo - one of Piedmont’’s most historical Only hilly vineyards with ap- wines, and appreciated all over the world. propriate slopes and expo- Its name evokes a sense of grand style sures, whose marl terrains are synonymous with traditions that are disap- primarily clayey-calcareous in pearing all too quickly from our modern nature, are considered adapted world. It comes from the ‘‘Nebbiolo’’ grape to its production. It is a ruby whose cultivation dates back over 7 centu- red wine of medium intensity, ries to the 1300s. This noble, somewhat tending to bright pinkish gar- sensitive grape ripens in late October, long net; a highly delicate musky after other varieties have been picked. As odour with delicate scents of the grape is slow to mature the goal is to roses; sweet and soft in flavour keep it on its vine into early November to
  3. 3. The Association of Small Direct Wine Merchants grapestalk.co.uk Page 20 Wine Merchants Piedmont wine that is normally drunk young. Vini Bianchi the White allow it to develop fully. The denomina- Wines tion of controlled and guaranteed origin Barolo [Barolo DOCG] reserved for pres- Asti Spumante - possi- tigious wines that meet July 1980 regula- bly one of the best tions, strictly control its relatively small known sweet white area of production. The vineyards of Ba- sparkling wines of this rolo DOCG production sit in only 3,100 region made from Mo- dry spumante varieties. Nor- acres of the Langhe Hills, just southwest scato grapes. Millions mally it has an aromatic slightly of the town of Alba. Approximately 87% of bottles are exported acidic bite. It is drunk quite of it comes from only five villages: Barolo; from Italy by the big young after 1-2 years of aging La Morra; Serralunga d’’Alba; Castiglione bottlers. Asti Spumante standing Falletto and Monforte d’’Alba . These vil- refers to a fully sparkling wine with straightforward sweet and fruity flavours, Arneis - The Arneis grape, from which the lages enjoy different microclimates and soil wine is made, has a very delicate skin and structures that are reflected in variations of which is best enjoyed on its own or as a dessert selection. is very difficult to grow. The varietal had the flavour and aroma of the grapes. almost disappeared in the first half of the These differences are furthered accentu- Moscato D’’Asti - not so well known out- last century as wine growers replaced it ated by the differing styles of the wine- side Italy as Spumante. It is a finer wine with the more resilient red grapes. Only a makers resulting in wines of varied quality made from the finest selection of the Mo- few Arneis vines survived to produce small and complexity. scato grapes which are often harvested late quantities of grapes that were used in Barbareseco –– a pretty village only a few and cite the name of the vineyard. Mo- blends with the red wines to lighten their miles from Barolo. Both create great wines scato d’’Asti is one of the world’’s great tannins. The word Arneis in Piedmont from the finikity nebbiolo grapes. Bar- wine styles. It is a golden straw coloured dialect means "little devil" or "rascal" or baresco is maybe less well known than wine with a minimum overall strength of ““whimsical””. Most likely the word alludes Barolo but its winemakers are rapidly es- 4.5%vol. This is a delicate, delicious low to the stubborn, difficult nature of the tablishing a reputation for quality that is alcohol wine with natural fruit sweetness grape and to the whimsical fact that in giving neighbouring Barolo a run for its and a light fizz. It has about half the car- ancient times a few Arneis grapes were money. This quality often comes with a bonation of a typical sparkling wine, and is planted among the red grapes because the less expensive price tag and so value for released soon after the harvesting to pre- early ripening, sweet Arneis vines pro- money is definitely one of Barbarescos key serve its uniquely fresh character. It is ex- tected the red grape harvest from attack by attributes. tremely aromatic with a famously complex wasps. The Arneis vines originate from the perfume; its mild level of sweetness is steep Roero hills north of Alba where it is Dolcetto –– Dolcetto grapes have been counterbalanced by vibrant acidity. Mo- being grown once more and has recently around for a long time with both the scato d’’Asti makes an exceptional dessert been awarded a coveted D.O.C.G. status. French and Italians claiming to be the wine but is also versatile enough to have as The wine gets many of its very particular country of origin. Although much of the an aperitif. Served alone, it is one of the characteristics from the sandy soils rich in evidence suggests the seeds originated in most refreshing wines in the world, and the marine deposits left behind 12 to 15 the Monferrato hills of North West Italy. one would be hard pressed to find some- million years ago, in which it grows. Originally cultivated as an everyday table thing better for a hot summer day. wine, Dolcetto is benefiting from a resur- Originally produced as a sweet white wine gence of interest. Producers are raising its Cortese Alto Monferrato (Gavi) –– One of we found some references to the fact that game with the use of modern production the most important of the dry white wines in the 1600’’s it was considered to be a methods and stringent grape selection. It produced in this area. Despite the Cortese good wine for women as it ““softened their makes a grape being around in the 18th century, temperament””. lighter, this wine does not enjoy the same reputa- tion as the reds. It is however an easy Very Italian! fruiter drinking wine that is delicious with the © Phil & Ingrid Blades right food. The grape is only grown in very Phil & Ingrid Blades moved to Piedmont hilly areas with appro- in Italy to fulfil their dream of owning a priate slopes and ex- vineyard and making wine. posures. It is bright stayinpiedmont.com. straw yellow in colour, Phil & Ingrid Blades with Brian and Chris- and can go towards tine Marshall own and run ASDW member green. It comes in dry company Piedmont Wine still, dry frizzante and piedmontwine.com

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