Piedmont's Wine Problem for Non-Italians.


Wine enthusiasts who like Piedmontese wines often get confused with the vowels in red such as Barbera, Barolo, Barbaresco, just to name a few!

Yet all are outstanding winter red wines with ample aromas, high alcohol, full body and long, satisfying aftertaste.

If there is a time for savouring Piedmont’s wines, it is now, provided you choose the right producer.

An unbroken hit parade of impressive vintages 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 makes buying them easier than ever!

LCBO’s Classics Catalogue offers a number of Barolos and Barbarescos, and the Vintages division always has a few gems scattered amongst its monthly offerings.

However many young winemakers craft their Barolos and Barbarescos with new techniques in an attempt to render them appealing within a year or two, but the Italian law compels them to barrel age them at least for four years. Thus, in less sturdy years, by the time the wine may be bottles, it is already weak and practically “ over the hill “.

Generally small wineries with their own vineyards produce better and long-lived wines. In Barolo, five communes are known to yield superior fruit: La Morra, Castiglione Faletto, Monforte, Serralunga d’Alba, and Barolo.

Barbaresco located approximately 15 Km. West of Barolo as the crow flies, uses the same grape (Nebbiolo) but produces a wine that is accessible much earlier than Barolo, but also ages faster.

Here Ceretto and Gaja (both small quality-oriented wineries) are reputed to produce outstanding single-vineyard (which Piedmontese call cru) Babarescos such as Sori Tildin, Asili and Bricco Asili.

Piedmont produces many other wines worth exploring, not withstanding its agricultural bounty. The region’s white truffles consistently sell for more than their black counterparts from France, and are only available in season (end of October to mid-November).

If you are looking for rich, soft red wines, Dolcetto di Dogliani enjoys an excellent reputation as a fine, value-representing, eminently drinkable, red wine worthy of gracing every connoisseurs table anywhere. Five communes are well known for their Dolcettos: Dogliani, Monforte,

The following wineries produce fine Dolcettos: Einaudi, Pecchenino, Chionetti, Ceretto and San Fereolo.

The better Barolo producers are: Maracarini, R. Ratti, Altare, Bovio, Conte di Montezemolo, Voerzio, Ceretto, B. Mascarello, Ascheri, Marchesi di Gressy, Marchesi di Barolo, Batasiolo and A Conterno.

If you are looking for Barbaresco then consider any of the following: Gaja, Ceretto, Paroccho di Neive, Altare, Conterno-Fantino, Ca’Viola, Marchesi di Gressy .

Barbera is always a good bet. Single-vineyard Barberas tend to be more intense both in taste and colour. It does age approximately 2-3 years. This is an underrated wine and deserves much better than it is accorded.

For memorable dessert wines, remember one word: Moscato. A widely planted vine around the eastern Mediterranean basin, Moscato thrives best in Piedmont, and especially around the town of Asti. This small town is justly famous for its sweet sparkling wine; Asti Spumante (sparkling wine of Asti). Millions of bottles find their way to export markets annually just in time for wedding receptions toasts ands other joyous celebrations. There are many brands from which to choose. Practically all producers are also involved in vermouth manufacturing Cora, Martini e Rossi, Cinzano, and Ricadonna are just a few.

Asti Spumante tend to be fragrant, sweet but not cloying, and always refereshing when served very cold ( 6 C ) in an appropriate flute-shaped glass.

Moscato d’ Asti Naturale of the Asti is the still version of Asti Spumante with a much lower alcohol percentage ( 5 – 6 % ), superb fragrance and flavour many consider to be superior to that of the sparkling version.

It is best to finish a good meal or even better on Sunday morning enjoy it with breakfast.

Connoisseurs consider Mosacato d’Asti Naturale from Sant Stefano di Belbo, a small town in the hills, the best of all. The small winery I vignaioli di Sant Stefano di Belbo jointly owned by small quality-minded wineries, produces one of the best. Michele Chiarlo and Rivetti are two others successful in capturing the essence of Moscato d’Asti.

Christmas is soon approaching and Moscato d’Asti naturale should be in your cellar for your enjoyment.

Vintages, the fine wine division of LCBO, offers Moscato d’Asti from time to time.

It does not age well and also does not “ travel “ well due to its low alcohol. Bottles transported in air-conditioned containers arrive in North America in good condition others suffer a great deal some become undrinkable.


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