Piedmont Wines ~ very long
I’ve been working on a trip to Piedmont in early May and can’t thank this board enough for so much valuable info. Restaurants have been reserved, but I’ve been worried about finding affordable wines. I asked a friend for help because I thought he was a really smart guy in re wine ~ didn’t know that he is currently a member of The Guild of Master Sommeliers and a former Vice Commander of The International Brotherhood of The Knights of the Vine. Bottom line ~ Sam the Master Sommelier gave me pointers that are too good not to share. For those going to Piedmont that might be overwhelmed by the choices (and prices) this may help.
Note to Sam ~ you are absolutely the BEST! Can’t thank you enough.
Hi, Nancy. Well….here it be….short story long and hopefully helpful ~ by the way: for food and wine I COULD be y’all’s guide!
Italy consists of twenty regions, each producing wines from a variety of grapes. Piedmont, literally “at the foot of the mountains”, is one of the greatest wine growing regions in the country. It has a very large acreage designated as DOCG, the highest rating quality-wise for wines, as well as DOC, the second-highest quality rating for wines. This is all under government regulation which, along with France, is perhaps the most stringent in the world.
The most famous wines of Piedmont are perhaps The King of Wines, Barolo , followed by The Prince of Wines, Barbaresco. These wines are generally quite pricey and require a number of years of aging before consumption. They are also best served with bigger foods and meals, in general. Both are made with Nebbiolo grapes.
As luck (not really) would have it, Piedmont is also renowned for Barbera, the most widely-planted grape in Piedmont. Both Alba and Asti are huge producers of Barbera wines. These wines are fresh cherry, black currant, plum fruit wines which are both very food friendly and, in general, very well-priced. They are delicious wines. Also, underestimated by many, are the wines made from the Dolcetto grape. This grape makes a straight-forward fruity red wine intended for everyday consumption, especially with lighter fare, pastas, pizza, burgers, etc.
Gavi is an eastern-Piemontese DOCG appellation making terrific white wines from the Cortese grape. These are refreshing, high-acid wines with ability to complement fish.
So, if you are looking for great wines at a great value to pair easily with most Italian foods, these will hold their own.
Now: a word on vintages. 2010 is one of the best vintages in Piedmont in recent memory. Wine Spectator rated it 96-99 points, with the final answer pending further tastings, as many wines of 2010 are first being released now. 2008 was also super. 2009 was very good, in between the first two I listed. 2007 was superb, rating 95 points. Having said all that, the adage that great winemakers make great wines in poor vintage years holds true. Fortunately, you do not need more information than 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010 are all quite good, so one does not need an encyclopedic knowledge of vintage ratings nor the Wine Spectator App!
That is it for the generalities. Allow me to make some specific suggestions, and, here is where I will; give you more info that you wanted, I’m sure ~
• Produttori Del Barbaresco 2009: a Barbaresco that lists at $37 (US) and is 93-points.This is one of the world’s top cooperatives. Their 2008 Barbaresco is 01+points at $37
• Fratelli Manzone Barolo Mercatto 2007: a Barolo rated 93 points that retails at $35.
• Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d”Alba 2012: YOUNG, GREAT WINEMAKER $25
• BRUNO GIACOSA BARBERA D”ALBA 2011 AT $30 MASSOLINO BARBERA D”ALBA 2012 $25
• Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba 2011 at $30 & Massolino Barbera D’Alba 2012 at $25.
• Cascina Chicco Barbera d’Alba Greanera Alta 2012, 91 points, $19
• Domenico Clerico Barbera d”Alba Trevigne 2010: 91 points, $25
• Broglia Gavi La Meirana 2012: White Peach/grapefruit at $25, 90 points
• Vietti Nebbiolo Langhe Perbacco 2010 90 points, $25: same grape as used in all Barolos and Barbarescos. GREAT FIND!
• Armando Parusso Nebbiolo Langhe 201190 points, $22: again, the Nebbiolo grape used exclusively in Barolo and Barbaresco wine production: excellent find.
• La Ca’ Nova Barbaresco 2009: $38: great find!
• Michele Chiarlo (a world-renowned producer) Barbera d”Asti Superiore Le Orme 2010 about $15.
• Cortese Dolcetto d”Alba 2011, Barbera d”Alba 2011, Barbera d”Alba Morassina 2011: all $17-$35
• Cortese Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 at $24.
• Marchese Di Gresy: Dolcetto d’Alba Monte Aribaldo 2011 ($21) and Langhe Nebbviolo Martinenga 2011 ($23) from one of the most beautiful estates in Piedmont with spectacular views of Barbaresco (try to visit).
• Massolino Dolcetto d’alba and Barbera d’Alba 2011 crafted by the brothers Franco and Roberto Massolino at $20-$25. Their Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 garnered 90 points and retails at $35.
• Giorgio Pelissero Dolcetto d’Alba Munfrina AND Augenta 2011 are 90-pointers at $18. This is a top-tier estate located in Barbaresco. Their Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 and 2010 are 90-91 point rated and retail at about $30.
• Preunotto Dolcetto d’Alba 2011 $15 and Barbera d”Asti Fiulot 2011 $15.
• Albino Rocca Dolcetto d’Alba Vignalunga 2011 and Barbera d’Alba 2011 are about $17-$18.Others of their wines are excellent.
• Bruno Rocca Barbera d’Alba 2010 at about $30.
• Paolo Scavino Rosso Da Tavola 2011 and Dolcetto d’Alba 2011 AND Barbera d’Alba 2011 all under $25 are highly-rated.
Finally, if you win the Loteria Italiana, get a bottle of Angelo Gaja Langhe Sri Tildin or Sori San Lorenzo 2010: retail is about $500!
It is a question of taste, not right or wrong. So, for whatever it is worth, I disagree with some of the advice your friend gave you, with individual wines, but particularly the recommendations with the 2011 (and the thought that 2008 is very good) which is a mediocre vintage. Stick to the 2010 for Barbera.
ekc is spot on with Altare. The 2001 or 2004 Barolo will show anyone what is truly great about that grape.
You are lucky to have such a friend. I love that he didn't get you stuck on Barolo or Barbaresco and instead recommended The Barberas (there is a third one, Monferrato, and possibly a fourth at the same level, Nizza) and Dolcetto. I would like to also point out Nebbiolo Langhe denomination. And to the whites, i'd add Timorasso. There are also some good (non sweet!) sparkling wines, above mentioned Bruno Giacosa makes a good one, as well as Contratto (For England, for example).
I also like the wineries he recommended, they are the better known, but good ones. I see best price/quality in Produttori del Barbaresco.
Osteria la Torre
L'osteria la Vignaiolo
da Bardon ~ have emailed, but no reply yet, any advice?
Osteria Veglio ~ haven't contacted yet, any advice?
Considering for lunch in Asti ~
Osteria del Diavolo di Pescio Cristina ~ any other options I should consider?
Also, for our last night in Italy am considering Il Gatto e la Volpe in Oleggio. I haven't figured out how to contact them yet. Any advice or options I should consider. We're spending our last night at Malpensa (the hotel in Terminal 1) and flying out early the next day.
All comments, the good, bad and ugly, are appreciated.
Thanks for posting this - and I will note that we buy and enjoy the Michele Chiarla Barbera in the NYC area - its a very good pricepoint.
I have to believe that when you are in Piedmont there will be many other selections which your sommelier or waiter can recommend at your price point and Id be inclined to seek that assistance since they will know their lists better than most of us at any rate - we do very much enjoy drinking barberas, dolcetto and the less expensive nebbiolo wines - if we did travel to this region I would want to spring for some good barbaresco - its been a while since we have had it due to cost, but the fragrance and texture can be extraordinary. As noted, Id preferto ask some questions and seek a recommendation than to select for myself but at a minimum your list gives you a framework to consider.
re: jen kalb
Definitely intend to let locals guide us in selection, but definitely needed direction and fundamental knowledge base as well. Sam gave me a great foundation for launching our imbibing! And, posting this has allowed me to now add more advice and perspective from Chowhounders ~ I'm very grateful.
Solid recs from your somm freind. I am a bit suprised he did not mention my favorite white from the region. I find Arneis more interesting than Gavi. Both Vietti and Damilano make excellent ones. Also don't miss a small glass of Moscato d'Asti or Brachetto d'Acqui after a big meal. They almost make you ready to start over.
PS Il Centro rocks as does Bardon.
I would add a strong second on making sure that you drink plenty of Arneis during your trip -- although we like Gavi and some of the local chardonnays as well. One thing to note is that, as to the whites, our usual approach is just to ask the padrone to bring a bit of Arneis or Gavi for drinking with our antipasti. Locally, these whiles are inexpensive; sometimes the restaurants supply them as part of the price of the meal. Indeed, we used to find that most of the trattorias would include a glass of spumante, a basic white, a similar red and even some moscato as part of the fixed price of the meal. Sadly, this is not typical these days.
I would also put in a personal endorsement of spending some serious time drinking Barbaresco while you are there. We like all the red varietals, but there is something ethereal about Barbaresco (a good analogy would be the way a great French Burgandy can send you over the top). In addition to the excellent Barbarescos from Produttori, there are a host of small producers making superb Barbaresco at reasonable prices.
And lastly, bravo on your restaurant choices, but don't give up on da Bardon (try calling -- someone will speak English, if you don't have enough Italian) and think about da Renzo. I would also make sure you get to Il Veglio for lunch, as wandering around La Morra is a real trip -- and they have a fabulous (but expensive) wine store there.
Have a great trip.