Move over, Tuscany – the north-westerly Piedmont wine region is the next big thing in the wine-tasting world. You might already be familiar with the Barolos and Barbarescos, but what about the rest of this mountainous Italian region? We introduce you to the best grapes of the bunch, as well as pointing out where to stay and things to do.
The Barbera grape makes dark red wines that go well with anything, thanks to its dark fruit and anise finish. We love it paired with white truffles, Genoa seafood and hazelnut-chocolate tortes from Turin bakeries.
Whatever variety you choose, the quality will be great – especially if you go for a DOCG like Barbera d’Asti, which has a red fruit finish.
- Stay: Serralunga d’Alba.
- Sleep: The rural Il Boscareto Resort & Spa is completely enclosed in vineyards and comes with a Michelin-starred restaurant.
- Do: The epic Tasting Tour of Italy, which covers Piedmont, travels through the Chianti wine region, and ends in Umbria.
- Multi-centre options: The Piedmont countryside pairs well with the region’s capital city, Turin. Check out our suggested itinerary.
Nebbiolo grapes give birth to the Piedmont wines you might be familiar with already – Barolo and Barberesco. Barolo vineyards patchwork the hills south-west of Alba, while Barbaresco vineyards sit north-east of Alba.
The clay soils give wine pressed from Nebbiolo grapes a slightly more complicated – but no less delicious – taste. Expect hints of rose, cherry and spicy myrrh, especially from the older vintages. Saying that, the Nebbiolo vineyards cross a range of landscapes, so there can be a big difference in tastes. Our motto: if you don’t like one, then you’ll just have to try another. Salute!
- Stay: Benevello.
- Sleep: Villa d’Amelia, which settles amongst vineyards and hazelnut groves. You’ll get some of the best views from the swimming pool.
- Do: Our Gastronomic Barolo Cycling Tour or Piedmont Walking Holiday. The best thing about these tours? A wine-carrying service that picks up your day’s spoils and delivers them to your final hotel.
- Multi-centre options: Again, Turin is a great pick.
Cortese di Gavi (AKA Gavi di Gavi) is the most well-known variety of Cortese wine. It’s a floral dry white with pick-me-up flavours of lemon and peach – a perfect summer tipple. Although the vineyards gather around Gavi, the wine is served in most restaurants and enotecas in Piedmont.
- Stay: Turin, the stylish regional capital.
- Sleep: Historic Grand Hotel Sitea.
- Do: Shopping and Aperitivi Tour, which does exactly what it says in the tin. It starts in Turin, before continuing to Milan and Florence.
- Multi-centre options: Milan and/or a Piedmont lake like Lake Maggiore or Lake Orta.
Dolcetto grapes don’t make wine as sweet as you’d imagine, instead coming up with fruity blackberry flavours. They tend to have a slightly higher alcohol %, so don’t be disheartened if the waiter pours you a a little glass – it more than pulls its weight!
One of the best places to try a Dolcetto wine is at Banca del Vino (the Bank of Wine) in the gastronomic university town of Pollenzo. Tour the expansive cellars, sign up to a tasting, or join a workshop that shows you which local recipes to dish up with your Piedmont wine.
- Stay: Pollenzo.
- Sleep: Albergo Dell’Agenzia, a neo-gothic hotel that sets down right next to the University of Gastronomic Sciences. The hotel is passionate about Slow Food.
- Do: Pop by the surrounding foodie towns, including Bra (the Slow Food movement’s hometown) and Alba (try the world-famous white truffles).
- Multi-centre options: In this south-east corner of Piedmont, you’re only a few hours’ drive away from Liguria and its colourful cities like Genoa and the Cinque Terre.
Check out our Piedmont holidays to try these wines for yourself.