By Kevin Keith
Piedmont. Pronounced “peh-ah-MON-tey.” Italy’s other famous wine region. The home to almost a third of Italy’s total population (the Po River Valley, within which Piedmont resides, is home to the bustling metropolises of Turin and Milan) is also home to two of wine nerds’ greatest loves - Barolo and Barbaresco. Towns as well as wines, these noble wines are made entirely from the mighty Nebbiolo grape, a rich, powerful and tannic grape variety that gives you structure and patience gives you complexity.
Yet Piedmont is known for a great many other wines. Varietals such as Barbera (the most planted grape in Piedmont), Dolcetto, Moscato Bianco (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), Arneis, Favorita, Cortese, Croatina, Vespolina and Freisa, and even familiar grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc are also planted.
The region boasts the most DOCG (Denominazioni di Controllata e Garantita, or Controlled and Guaranteed Destination of Origin) and DOC (Denominazioni di Controllata, or Controlled Destination of Origin). 17 DOCGs and 42 DOCs are present in Piedmont (6 more DOCGs than Tuscany and 1 more DOCs).
Barolo, known historically as the Wine of Kings, was often prefered over Bordeaux during the reign of monarchies throughout Europe when, in the mid-1800’s, the mayor of Cavour, Camillo Benso, invited renowned French enologist of the day Louis Oudart to Barolo and he was able to create the first modern day Barolo. This wine eventually became popular with nobility, and earned the phrase “the wine of Kings, the King of Wines.” Barolo, by definition, is 100% Nebbiolo, aged a minimum four years in small oak barriques, and will most likely come from vineyards in and around the communes of Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and the northern half of Monforte d'Alba. (Roughly 87% of Barolo comes from here).
It’s counterpart - Barbaresco - is also 100% Nebbiolo yet aged at minimum 3 years in small oak barrique. Primarily from the communes of Barbaresco, Treiso, and Nieve, Barbaresco wines have been referred to as more feminine to Barolo’s masculine character, but I wouldn’t necessarily go down that road.
Some incredible examples from Piedmont, including Barolo and Barbaresco, can be found at both Jungle Jim’s locations. Try one of these great wines, or just ask one of our friendly neighborhood wine geeks here at JJ’s on your next visit: