24 Chapters
Medium 9782067181977

PIEDMONT

Michelin Michelin ePub

PIEDMONT

Piedmont means “at the foot of the mountains”, which is an exact description of the geography of the region. But the mountains are just one aspect of Piedmont. The rest of the region has a great deal to offer: hills planted with vineyards, rivers, lakes, modern cities, medieval hamlets, ancient castles and ultramodern buildings. It is home to some of the world’s most highly prized wines. They are at times difficult, austere and a little rugged, but gradually they reveal their secret nature in the glass, rewarding the patient wine-lover.

The sunny slopes of the Langhe in autumn

Per gentile concessione Vincenzo Lonati/GRIBAUDO

The terroir

Grapes are grown in much of the region and produce numerous types of wine, many of which are very well known, such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Asti Spumante, Barbera and Nebbiolo, to mention only a few.

Piedmont is one of Italy’s most productive regions and has the greatest number of DOC appellations. It is also the area with the highest percentage of VQPRD wines (Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions), a definition that groups the DOC and DOCG zones. Regardless of numbers and statistics, what must be underlined is that wine is an integral part of the culture of the Piedmonts. The preferred varieties are Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Freisa, Arneis, Cortese, Brachetto, Favorita and Moscato. The principal wine production areas are Monferrato, the Langhe, Roero and Alto Piemonte.

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THE ITALY OF WINE

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THE ITALY OF WINE

Italy boasts front stage positioning in today’s wine production worldwide, amongst the main wine producers. 36% of Italy’s territory is mountainous, 42% hilly, 22% planes; viticulture is widespread throughout much of the country, and is particularly concentrated in hilly areas where, moreover, the best wine is produced.

Valeria/SHUTTERSTOCK

On a historic note

The land of Italy, of Miocene origin, is very well adapted to viticulture. Grapevines were already known in prehistoric times and the fact that grape juices fermented naturally was an acquired fact. We only know of viticulture and winemaking techniques from the 2nd millennium BC when first Creto-Mycenaean civilisations and then, Phoenician and Greek ones spread their know-how to many Italian coastal areas, where they introduced sapling cultivation, which is still used in many regions.

ETRUSCANS AND ROMANS

The Etruscans made a decisive contribution to the development of vine cultivation. When Rome was founded in 753 BC Lazio was one of the areas on the peninsula with the fewest vineyards, whereas Greek dominion in the south of Italy and Etruscan in central Italy had been influential even from this point of view. With Rome’s gradual rise in power, the Romans learned the uses and customs of the populations it controlled and embarked upon viticulture, and even perfected techniques and became great amateurs and promoters. A protagonist of bacchanal pleasures and more cultivated symposia (a term derived from the Greek expression meaning “drink together”), wine became a symbol of social aggregation. For the most part these wines were diluted with water and flavoured with honey and spices. Many Roman scholars wrote about wine, including the poet Horace and Pliny the Elder who mentioned oenology in Naturalis Historia, listing over one hundred wines in the Roman Empire.

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CAMPANIA

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CAMPANIA

The beauty of the Campanian countryside is such that it can bewitch the soul. In addition, its cuisine makes it one of the most interesting regions of Italy to explore. The predominant varieties of grape in Campania are native to the area: Aglianico, Greco, Fiano, Coda di Volpe, Piedirosso (or Per’e Palummo), Asprinio, Biancolella and Forastera, which produce a vast range of whites and reds, all of great character.

The village of Ravello with terraced vineyards

Sokolovsky/SHUTTERSTOCK

The terroir

Campania boasts 4 DOCG and 14 DOC zones. The long-standing Taurasi DOCG was joined by Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo and in 2011 by Aglianico del Taburno.

Three DOCGs are situated in the province of Avellino. Taurasi is a great red wine made from Aglianico grapes that ages well. It is full-bodied, warm and pleasingly tannic. Fiano di Avellino is a white wine produced from the grape of the same name, with intense fruity and flowery scents and unique character, just like the Greco di Tufo. In addition to its grapes of the same name, this latter wine requires a certain though reduced percentage of Coda di Volpe. The versions produced are brut and extra brut classical method sparkling wines.

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VENETO

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VENETO

Viticulture in Veneto is closely linked to the region’s history: the wine “de Venegia” was known since the Middle Ages not only in the Italian peninsula, but also beyond its borders, thanks to the far-reaching trade practised by the Serenissima Republic of Venice. It is not surprising, therefore, that wine is an integral part of the culture and daily life of the Veneto. As the goal of local vintners is to make wines of the highest quality, it is not surprising that Venetan production is remarkable not only for its volume (the region is one of the largest producers in Italy) but also for its excellence. The number of designated areas that Veneto boasts also puts the region in the high end of the table, attesting the importance viticulture has in the life of the population and in the regional economy.

Vineyards in the Verona countryside

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The terroir

Archaeological finds in the Lessini mountains confirm the close bond the Veneto has with the vine. It is perhaps due to this millenary tradition that the region has such a diverse and rich range of varieties of both white and black grapes.

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EMILIA-ROMAGNA

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EMILIA-ROMAGNA

In Emilia-Romagna the pleasure had from food and wine is part of the local culture. There are many delights to be enjoyed: filled handmade pasta following traditional recipes, tasty charcuterie, and cheeses known around the whole world, among others. And of course to accompany these delicacies only wine will do, with those from the region often refreshing, sparkling and easy to drink. The region has fully 20 appellations. Heading towards the sea you come to the vineyards of the Colli Piacentini, followed by the Colli di Parma, then the Colli di Scandiano and the flat lands of Lambrusco (Modena and Reggio). Climbing again you reach the Colli Bolognesi, the Colli di Imola and Faenza, then the Colli di Rimini, and finish your trip in the other areas of Romagna planted to vine.

Hills under vine around Forlì

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The terroir

With regard to wine production, there are many differences between Emilia and Romagna. To begin with, in Emilia Barbera, Croatina, Lambrusco and Fortana are some of the black varieties cultivated, while Malvasia di Candia, Montu, Ortrugo, Moscato Giallo, Pignoletto and Sauvignon are among the whites. In Romagna, on the other hand, you find Sangiovese and Montepulciano for the reds, while the whites include Albana, Trebbiano Romagnolo, Chardonnay and Bombino Bianco. In addition, the two areas differ by the fact that in Emilia the wines are predominantly sparkling, whereas they are still in Romagna.

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