PIEDMONT'S WINE COUNTRY

The Nebbiolo Grape is the regions undisputed grape for for reaching world class levels of expression is probably indigenous to Piedmont. Today most surprisingly, only 6% of the vines in Piedmont are Nebbiolo. The harvest of the late ripening Nebbiolo Grape takes place in early to mid October. We can find documentation talking about this grape from the 14th Century. There are traditionalists, Modernists, Purists, Multinationals and farmers with 1 hectare.  One of the worries at this very moment is the fact that Barolo Production has increased from 6 to 12 million bottles a year in the space of 10 years but the amount of land has stayed the same. Well as you can imagine it is not really such a good idea as this excess has come from vineyards with bad exposure or the vineyards are too high or too low to produce balanced wines, a definite dilemma,

What we must remember  think is that in the late 70’s Barolos really were started being bottled in any meaningful numbers. Picking good Nebbiolo in Langhe is the trick and also in less well known vintages the crus go into these wines.

Just outside Turin, there is spectacular scenery in the Langhe area with undulating vineyards associated with Nebbiolo-based Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara and Ghemme.

One has to remember that the Barbera grape is the third most planted variety in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano).Understanding the Barbera grape is something we feel is really worthwhile. Our clients are always surprised when we arrive at world famous wineries and see that there is no huge tasting room with 21st century architecture. The wineries of Piedmont are mostly family owned and operated, and generally small. These factors make a wine tour into Piedmont one of the most interesting wine regions to visit.

Picking good Nebbiolo in Langhe is the trick and also in less well known vintages the crus go into these wines. There are Barolos in the supermarket for 15 EUR: no one is or should be happy about that; Sounds a lot like Chianti Bottlers destroying the market by having Chianti on the shelf at 2 EUR a bottle. The same truth of Asti Spumante. The Moscatel Grape has amazing possibilities for sparkling wine and we can show you some wonderful examples, still and sparkling, not the Asti Spumante that makes 100 million bottles a year. It is so large a business that there are not enough Moscatel Grapes in North Italy to fulfil that demand, so we were told.

The Piedmontese restaurants of excellence never gouge their patrons for the cost of wines which makes dining out so much more exciting and less painful.

We tend towards wine tastings at small, unique and of course all the world renowned estates  that we respect.  We would try to drink approachable Langhe Nebbiolo from the great houses rather than drinking Barolo or Barbaresco with just a few years on them. It is impossibly young to enjoy. Ask yourself if it is drinkable and fruity then it is not Barolo. Is it?

Flavescenza Dorata or Flavescence Dorée is a very threatening disease to the vines. It could prove to be as destructive as anything for 100 years. From what we understand it was brought into Piedmont through infected chardonnay varietals from Champagne. The Vector (a plant hopper) gives the vine a disease that is spread through the plants lymph system and kills it from there.

When you go visit wineries that have Rotary Fermenters used for the maceration you need to know you are visiting a winery that in the late 90's invested in this technology. Wineries of 70.000 bottles have 3 or 4 of these things? There was obviously a good salesman. As these machines are not really there for small production wineries … why do they have them?  For large production outfits it is understandable if you want to make industrial wine quantities. OK … but for Cru Barolos? It is going to be costly to get out of this abomination. When you try the result of these wines you will be drinking quickly made wine … short macerations in these things and then 12 months and up to 36 months in barrel to hide their terrible green tannins and high acidity. Surely the American and World palate has changed and matured. How will these wineries adapt? More wood won't fix it.  Still talking about modernist and traditionalist in this region is valid but of course a massive oversimplification.

Since Robertson Wine Tours inception in Italy we are working with established local partners and no more so than in Piedmont with all that is going on here, let us get to the heart of it with you. Below are sample of the wineries we like to work with for many reasons.

Table of contents


Contact us