Piemonte is in the far Northwest of Italy, bordering France and Switzerland and is a magical place for experiencing some of Italy’s finest food and drink. This region has everything that nature can offer to produce some amazing wines; full-bodied reds like Barolo and Barbaresco made from one of Italy’s most famous grape variety, Nebbiolo. The Italian word for fog is nebbia, and this is where the grape gets its name from, the fog that descends on the Langhe hills mainly in Autumn where these vines grow. The best vineyards are positioned at the top of the hills, above the fog so the Barolo and Barbaresco wines grown higher are bold with cherry and clove notes, high tannins and full bodied. The lower slopes that catch the fog are prone to slower-ripening, but can still produce excellent wines, like the 2011, 2012 and 2015 vintages.
For us, the Prunotto Barolo DOCG (Demoninazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – the highest government guarantee of quality relating to the wine’s origins, look out for the special DOCG strip on bottles which means it has been tasted and approved) perfectly demonstrates what this grape variety is all about. This wine is 100% made from the Nebbiolo grape – red in colour with garnet reflections and intense, complex aromas. Violets, cherries, blackberries and spicy notes, smooth and velvety in the mouth, full of flavour and wonderfully balanced, we usually recommend this with our steak or lamb dishes. It’s aged at least 18 months in French oak which gives it a slight spicy note but adds to the smooth, satin texture. You won’t find this on our regular wine menu, but we do stock it as a special because we love it so much!
But Piemonte has much more to offer than just the noble Nebbiolo. It produces a lot of other grape varieties like Barbera and Dolcetto, which literally means “little sweet one.” Despite this, it can have a very fresh taste but produces an energetic wine bursting with plums, blackberries and notes of black pepper and clove. It’s undemanding, never intimidating and wonderfully drinkable, definitely one to enjoy if you’ve never tasted it before. Barbera on the other hand is sometimes considered the poor cousin of Nebbiolo but actually produces some wonderful wines. Characteristics are dark cherry, plums, blackberries but with notes of lavender, vanilla and nutmeg too that somehow make it taste both rich and medium-bodied. We really enjoy Barbaresco Montestefano la Ca’Nova which is a very traditional, natural wine aged in old barrels with long maceration. Have patience – this wine tastes amazing after 8-10 years in the bottle, but luckily for you we have already done the work so you can taste it at its best right now!
Is Piemonte only famous for reds?
Of course not – it has a lot to offer in whites too, most famously from the Moscato grape which is grown in the Monferrato hills and is best known for its sparkling Asti and Moscato d’Asti. And the Cortese variety which produces Gavi, quite a well-known white here in the UK and stocked in many pubs as well as restaurants. One of the most prestigious parts of the Gavi appellation is Rovereto do Gavi and we like a particularly lovely wine from the Picollo Ernesto estate there. It’s 100% cortese di Gavi, straw yellow in colour with greenish reflections giving it a dry, fresh flavour, bursting with white flowers, apricot and pear. In the mouth this wine is spirited with freshness, citrus and almond notes. It’s a dream partner for our spigola allo zenzero or spaghetti allo scoglio, so easy to drink – a must if you’ve never tasted Gavi before.
So, what are you looking for in your Piemonte wine when you come to Rimini?
Nebbiolo: robust, masses of tannins, explosions of roses, fruit and spice, great to have with steak or red meat in rich sauces or a steak tartare.
Dolcetto d’Alba: when you just want to drink a good red wine and don’t want to have to think about it, fresh and full of fruit with some notes of clove.
Gavi: Refreshing and crisp, jasmine, pear and lemon, the perfect partner for fish or white meat.