So you have decided to go to Piedmont in northwestern Italy. You might want to ski the Alps or visit the Olympic city of Turin that perhaps unexpectedly is home to a museum housing one of the world’s richest collections of Egyptian art, and a world-class automobile museum. Nearby, on the banks of the Po River you’ll find Borgo Medioevale, a faithful representation of a Piedmont village from the Middle Ages. Piedmont is filled with castles and cathedrals, and the food is delicious. This lovely region once belonged to France and the culinary influence is obvious. Piedmont is also truffle land; you should open your wallet at least once to taste these delicious delicacies.
And there is the wine. Piedmont is home to some of the greatest wines that Italy, or frankly the world, has to offer. They call Barolo “The king of wines and the wine of kings.” When it is good it is very, very good. Yes, sometimes it is not that good. Unless you know what you’re doing, stay away from too-low priced Barolos. The Turin area itself doesn’t offer many well-known wines. But to the southeast you will find literally dozens of fine wines including the DOCGs Asti, Barbaresco, Barolo, Brachetto d’Acqui (a red frizzy or sparkling wine), and Gavi also known as Cortese di Gavi. Among the recommended, probably lower-priced DOC wines are Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti. If you aren’t a fan of tannins in your red wine you might go for one of the many Dolcettos that some say taste like Beaujolais. To the northeast of Turin you’ll find some fine wines including Gattinara DOCG and Ghemme DOCG. Northern Piedmont wines tend not to be as well known as those south of the Po River, so you may find some bargains.
The major red grape varieties grown in the Piedmont are Nebbiolo which found in Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, and Ghemme wines, Barbara, Brachetto, and Dolcetto. The major white varieties are Arneis, Cortese, Erbaluce, Moscato used in Asti, and Chardonnay which is often quite good. If you want my opinion, make sure you taste some of the local whites before trying a Piedmont Chardonnay.
Companies selling wine tours of Piedmont include Alabaster and Clark Wine Tours Worldwide, La Dolce Vita Wine Tours, and Prime Italy, and Select Italy. Piedmont wineries that offer visits include Braida di Giacomo Bologna in Rocchetta Tanaro, Ceretto in Alba, Marchesi di Barolo in Barolo, Renato Ratti in La Morra, and Vietti in Castiglione Falletto. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some places may charge admission; others may expect you to buy some of their products.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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Wine tours, wine vacations, wine holidays in Piedmont, Italy