Piedmont


Piemonte wine is the range of Italian wines made in the province of Piedmont in the northwestern corner of Italy. The most well known wines are the Barolo and Barbaresco, made from the Nebbiolo grape and Asti Spumante-the sparkling wine made from the Moscato grape. Most of the winemaking take places near the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria. While Turin is the capital of the Piedmont, the commune of Alba is at the heart of the region's wine industry. The wine making industry played a significant role in the early stages of the Unification of Italy with some of the era's most prominent figures-like Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi owning vineyards in Piedmont region and making significant contributions to the development of Piedmontese wines. The excessively high tariffs imposed by the Austrian Empire on the export of Piedmontese wines to Austrian controlled areas of northern Italy was one of the underlying sparks to the revolutions of 1848-49.

The Piedmont region is located in the foothills of the Alps forming its border with France and Switzerland. To the northwest is the Valle d'Aosta, to the east is the province of Lombardy with the Liguria region forming its southern border along the Apennines. In addition to the vast mountainous terrain, the Po Valley consumes a large area of available land-leaving only 30% of the region suitable for vineyard plantings. The valley and the mountains do contribute to the areas noted fog cover which aides in the ripening of the important Nebbiolo grape, which gets it name from the Piedmontese word nebbia meaning "fog".

The winemaking regions of the Piedmont and Bordeaux are very close in latitude and share many climate characteristics, especially in regards to summertime temperatures and rainfall. The area of the Piedmont is affected by its sub alpine location with the some of the best winemaking sites being found among the Langhe foothills in Cuneo. Vineyards are typically planted on hillsides altitudes between 150 and 400 metres. The warmer south facing slopes are mainly used for Nebbiolo or Barbera while the cooler sites are planted with Dolcetto or Moscato. The majority of the region's winemaking, about 90% takes place in the southern part of Piedmont around around the towns of Alba, Asti and Alessandria. Nebbiolo is the most prominent grape in the region but Barbera and Dolcetto account for a significant portion of the area's red wine production as well.
With white wines, Moscato is the most prominent with its sparkling and frizzante style wines. Other notable white wines include styles made from the Cortese grape in Gavi as well as blends of Cortese with Arneis and Favorita from Colli Tortonesi and Alto Monferrato.
Since the 1980s there has been growing numbers of experimental plantings with the international varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. Other local or indigenous grapes include Bonarda, Croatina, Erbaluce, Freisa, Grignolino, Malvasia Nera, Pelaverga and Vespolina.

The regions' vineyards cover 51.000 ha with over 42.000 being DOC/DOCG. The annual wineproduction is 2.500.000 hectoliters of which 2.200.000 being DOC/DOCG; 56% red, 43% white and 1% rose'.
The Piedmont produces relatively more DOC/G wines then any other Italian wine region with nearly 84% of all the areas wine production falling under a DOC/G designation. The area has little Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) classification, in contrast to Tuscany, where IGT wines or Super Tuscans make up a significant portion of that region's wine production.

The Piedmont region is home to 42 Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and 12 Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).
The DOCG in Piedmont include:
  • Asti
  • Barbaresco
  • Barbera d'Asti
  • Barbera del Monferratto Superiore
  • Barolo
  • Brachetto d'Acqui or Acqui
  • Dogliani
  • Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore o Ovada
  • Gattinara
  • Gavi or Cortese di Gavi
  • Ghemme
  • Roero




PLACES OF INTEREST
Piedmont has been habitated since early times, by Celts and Ligurians, but became a very important stronghold for the Roman expansion towards North and West to conquer Gallia Transalpina. Places like Turin, Pollenzo and Biella became Roman settlements at an early stage. After having been invaded by the Goths, Langobards and Francs the Savoy-family took over the reign in the mid-1.000. With small interuptions this family kept the power over Piedmont until World War II. It was from Piedmont that the unification of Italy started in 1859, so Turin having already been the Savoy Capital for centuries became even for a short period the Capital of Italy. Today Piedmont is one of the economic centres of Italy with well-known industries like FIAT and Ferrero. It is also becoming a more and more appreciated area of tourism with the prealpine lakes of Maggiore and Orta, the beautiful mountains hosting the Winter-Olympics in 2006 and last but not least the tourism of food and wine.

TURIN - TORINO
The Capital of Piedmont was founded by the Romans for military use, but soon Turin eveloped into an important merchant centre as well. Already in the Middleages Turin gained power over the region and had its' period of glory during 1700-1800. The city became developed during this period and thus have a mainly barock face today. Long and straight streets lined with arcades full of exclusive shops and historical coffeeshops dominate the towncentre, only broken by large and majestical squares to underline the royalty of the city. For the visitor there are many museums telling of Turins past as Capital, but even of its' role as industrial centre. Furthermore there is the magnificient
  • Egyptian Museum.
  • Palazzo Reale di Torino
  • Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi
  • Palazzo Madama e Casaforte degli Acaja
  • Reggia di Venaria Reale
  • Mole Antonelliana
  • Basilica di Superga
  • Arco Olimpico - Lingotto
ALBA
The city was already inhabited before the Romans, but the first fortifications were done in the first century. Alba has always played a minor political role, but for a short period the city won its' independence. Today Alba is administratively under the Province of Cuneo, but in matters of tourism it is one of the most important places in Piedmont. This because of food and wine, where Alba is considered one of the most important cities in Italy. Combined with the cozy medieval streets make the city a popular visit, mainly for the Italians themselves.
  • Via Cavour
  • Palazzo Comunale
  • The Cathedral
  • Via Vittorio Emanuele
THE LAKES - Maggiore and Orta
Populated since ancient times the lakes of Northern Piedmont have always attracted romantics, poets and dreamers. The natural beauty of these lakes with their steep mountain sides and small pittoresque islands cannot leave anybody not impressed.
  • Orta village
  • Island of Orta San Giulio
  • Islands of Borromees, Madre, Bella, Pescatori
  • Stresa
  • Verbania with Villa Taranto and its' gardens
  • Giant statue of San Carlo Borromee