Piedmont Italy, known as the land of wine, truffles and well being, a land of rustic hills, sweeping valleys, and crisp mountain air, is a diverse and majestic region responsible for some of the world’s most celebrated products.
Located in Northern Italy, Piedmont, which means “foot of the mountain,” is a strip of land between the Alps and the Mediterranean , with a cool, fresh climate, ideal for the high, sloping vineyards that produce the region’s renowned wines. The alpine and pre-alpine valleys, in turn, sustain many sheep, goat, and cattle farms, which yield a variety of traditional cheeses as well as high quality beef.
The Piedmontese are proud of what their land has to offer and its long history of internationally loved products. Preservation and promotion of the “Made in Piedmont” label has always been key, and in 2011, “Piemonte Land of Perfection” was established with the support of the Regional Council of Piedmont to draw attention to the region’s unique and exceptional heritage and terroir. There are eight institutional members, all Consortia for the protection of wines: Asti, Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe and Roero, Brachetto d’Acqui, Barbera Asti and Monferrato Wines, Gavi, the Association of Moscato d’Asti Producers and the Association of Piedmontese Vine Dressers, in addition to the Canelli Wine Growers’ Cooperative. This “consortium of consortiums,” headed by president Andrea Ferrero, works toward the advancement of the products of Piedmont in an increasingly competitive global market.
Each year, the 20,000 wineries of Piedmont produce 3 million hectoliters of wine from the many native grape varieties grown there, including Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Cortese, Moscato, Brachetto and Arneis. The wines take on the characteristics of the region’s unique climate, resulting in taste, aromas, and complex structure like no other.
“This is northern Italy,” explains Master of Wine and Piedmont wine expert Christy Canterbury. “These are cool climate wines. There’s a freshness in the wines. There’s a delicacy and a clear aromatic brightness and forwardness in the wines that is very reflective of an area that is quite cool and harvests some of its grapes quite late.”
Two of Piedmont’s most loved wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, are made from the thin-skinned Nebbiolo, which is harvested late in the season. Barolo and Barbaresco are highly esteemed, full-bodied reds, which must be aged a minimum of thirty-eight and twenty-six months respectively.
“There is a dustiness to the tannins that creates a tugging texture on the palate and the vibrant acidity highlights the wines youthfulness,” says Canterbury of a 2007 Pecchenino Barolo San Giuseppe.
Of an admired Barbaresco, Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Pora, she says, “This is a winery I've long admired for its old-school, long-aging wine style. This Pora is a perfect example. It is firm in structure (with grainy tannins and prominent acidity) and reticent on the nose, clearly evidencing the cooler growing season.”
Barbera is the most planted grape in Piedmont and the second most planted grape in Italy for the production of Barberad’Alba, Barbera d’Asti, and Barbera del Monferrato. It is a medium-bodied red, with a searing, although pleasant acidity.
“A vibrant wine,” says Canterbury of a 2010 Botto Pier Luigi Barbera d'Asti. “My glass reverberated with lavender andblueberry along with a light damp earthiness. As expected in Barbera, the acidity was generous and the tannins were supple.”
Another Piemonte red is Dolcetto, also a delicious and complex wine. This dry and light-to-medium-bodied wine is universally known for its deep violet color, with abundant aromas of red crushed fruit, violets and a distinct drying spur of tannin.
Brachetto, also a sweet red, has a scintillating ruby red color and bouquet of rose petals and raspberries. This delicious, pleasantly sweet, effervescent wine is a natural beginning or close to a romantic dinner, and would work just as well at a family gathering. At only about 5.5% alcohol, Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG makes a great afternoon aperitif and pairs well with bitter chocolate, light sweets, fruit tarts, and Italian cookies such as Gli Amaretti di Mombaruzzo, a traditional amaretti biscuit indigenous to the area.
Unique in its kind, and the only DOCG wine in its class, Asti is the aromatic sparkling white wine par excellence, as well as the half-sparkling (frizzante) Moscato d’Asti. Both are made exclusively with the white Moscato grape from the hills of Monferrato, Langhe and Roero. It boasts an array of flowers and fruit, including wisteria, acacia, and elder and citrus fruits that blossom into a distinct scent of honey. Gently sweet, fragrant and light, it’s always perfect, especially with dessert, pairing well with the traditional Italian hazelnut cake.
“Piemonte is known as a land of great wines,” says Ferrero. “This established reputation is the result of the work of great men and women who cultivate the vines and produce quality wines. These people are keepers of a unique landscape that is a candidate to become UNESCO World Heritage. Inside every glass of wine the consumer finds a corner of Piemonte.”
Piedmont’s valleys are ideal for the farming of sheep, goats, and cattle, which give forth a diverse quantity of cheeses. Each variety is distinct in taste and quality, according to the rural traditions that govern its production. The most famous are Castelmagno, Gorgonzola and Robiola of Roccaverano Dop.
The Piedmontese breed of cattle, developed originally in the area, is considered by many to be the best for meat. This high-protein, lean and tender beef is appreciated for its quality throughout the world as well as locally, where it is celebrated in festivals such as the fat ox festival in Carrù and Moncalvo.
Piedmont, especially the Alba countryside, is one of the few regions where the white truffle can be found. They are the most expensive and most uniquely flavorful of all truffles, sought after all over by chefs as a gourmet ingredient. Truffles are most often sliced or shaved over rice, hand made pasta, such as tajarin, or fried eggs, which are best for bringing out the complexity of flavors.
Hazelnuts, which are far more plentiful, are also important to Piedmont’s cuisine. Ground hazelnuts are the key ingredient to Gianduiotto, the specialty chocolate of Turin. The “Tonda Gentile delle Langhe,” or “Round and Gentle Langa” hazelnut often shares the same land as the vineyards and is recognized widely for its excellence.
The products of Piedmont embody a rare standard achieved by hard work, and a deep connection to nature. The people of Piedmont represent generations of tradition and dedication to the land. Although new technologies have been introduced, such as the use of new winemaking equipment and materials, the wines of Piedmont are still made using the same techniques. “Wine is not made any differently today,” notes Ferrero. With grapes that are handpicked, and a sense of personal pride and care that goes into the cultivation of the vines, Piedmont’s heritage has endured the test of time. “The people are the soul of the 20,000 wineries of Piedmont,” Ferrero states.
It is the goal of “Piemonte Land of Perfection” to promote Piedmont’s exceptional foods and wines, especially in foreign markets, thereby preserving the unique culture from which they are born. The organization returned recently from a promotional trip to China, where Piedmont wines were celebrated in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Canton. Last July, New York welcomed a great variety of Piedmont wines at the important Grand Tasting Event. “In 2013,” states Ferrero, “we’ll continue to strengthen our presence in the US and China.”
Piedmont already has a strong presence in the world, made so by strong people. When consumers choose Piedmont wines, they are not just getting good quality, they are experiencing part of a history and a culture developed around a beautiful land. “Tradition is embodied in the men and women who cultivate the vines with great pride,” says Ferrero. “Every glass tells the story of country people and their toil.”
For More Information Contact: Fiammetta Mussio, email@example.com
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