Piedmont is, without question, one of the truly great wine regions of the world. This holds true not just recently, but historically as well. Equally without question, is why: the twin pillars of Barbaresco and Barolo.
But we’re not going to talk about those this week. Honestly, so much perfect literature on these magical styles already exists. All we want to do in this post - as it relates to Barolo and Barbaresco - is to tell you that if have not dipped your toes to test the waters of these beauts, consider this your light push.
What we will talk about in the post are some of the other gems you can find from Piedmont. Living in the shadow of their significantly more famous cousins makes these wines not only super tasty, but steals as well.
If you like fuller bodied whites, don’t miss arneis. They tend to have a moderate intensity of aromas - think of it as tucked in between the muted aromatic profile of chardonnay and the exuberant one of viognier. That said, the range of aromas often exceeds either chardonnay or viognier. In short, arneis makes complex, composed wines.
Expect tropical fruit, honeysuckle, chamomile, and coconut tones, balanced with vibrant acid and cooling minerals. Pairs perfectly with pan-fried breaded flounder served with asparagus and creamy garlic mashed potatoes.
An inky, yet generally on the lighter side of medium body, wine known for it’s funky, almost fungal finish. Pair with roasted rabbit served with mushroom risotto and root vegetables. If you ever needed an excuse to splurge on truffles, this wine is it. Hey, the money you saved on the wine will go a little ways towards the truffles ;)
None of us at Grand Cata had ever had a wine made from this grape. That is, until one of our favorite distributors stopped by with one. Now we’re hooked. Think pinot noir with some extra mossiness, darker color, and more raspberry than cherry on both the nose and palate. A glass of this practically begs for duck confit.
Though nebbiolo (of Barolo and Barbaresco fame) takes the cake as the most recognizable varietal in Piedmont, barbera owns the crown of most planted, and most consumed. Were you to actually visit Piedmont, you would be much more likely to drink gallons of barbera than any significant amount of the Twin Pillars.
Two regions shine when it comes to barbera: Asti, and Alba. Generally, “Barbera d’Asti” garners more acclaim. Both regions deserve your attention, however. Roughly speaking, expect to find barberas from Asti to be simpler, fresher, and more forward. Those from Alba will have a little more heft, slightly more nuance, and a light floral tone. Never expect to pay more than $35 dollars for an exceptional version of either. Instead, look for ones in the $15 - $25 range.
We hope this little foray into the not-so-well-known varietals, sub-regions and flavors of Piedmont piques your interest in this truly special part of Northern Italy!