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Piedmont, Italy

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In North West Italy, at the foot of the Alps, the alluring rolling hills of Piedmont can be found. Vineyards cover a large majority of the land area, especially in Barolo, which is the centre of production for many the world’s most exclusive and age-worthy reds. With a viticulture traced back to the fourteenth century, Piedmont is the source of some of Italy’s most desirable and longest-lived wines.

The region rains throughout the year and has a continental climate with hot, humid summers giving way to autumnal fog before cold winters. The cooling effect of the fog is especially beneficial to the Nebbiolo grape, the signature variety of the region, allowing a prolonged cluster hang time, thereby giving rise to full phenolic balance and ripeness. Nebbiolo produces lightly-colored red wines which can be highly tannic in youth with scents of tar and roses. As they age, the wines take on a trademark brick-orange hue at the rim of the glass, maturing to reveal deeper aromas of violets, wild herbs, cherries, raspberries, truffles, tobacco, and prunes. Nebbiolo wines are designed for aging, and can require several years to balance their complex and interesting characteristics.

Barbera, another grape of the region, is beloved for its characteristic high acidity, low tannin and juicy, red fruit. Wines of Barbera take on herbaceous flavours, with notes of strawberry, vanilla, and dark cherry. It is the most planted grape in Piedmont.

Dolcetto, despite its named meaning ‘the little, sweet one’, does not boast high sugar levels. The grape is often aggressively tannic and fruity, with moderate to low levels of acidity. Dolcetto wines tend toward a dry taste profile, and display primary flavours of plum, blackberry, cocoa, black pepper, and violet.

Photograph by Megan Mallen via Used through a Creative Commons licence.

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