Viticulture in Piemonte
Housing one of the largest varieties of native grapes in Italy, Piedmont boasts immense biodiversity.
However, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato make the lion’s share of total volumes, thriving in different areas across the region. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown stand out among the international grapes planted in Piedmont, giving some of Italy’s finest – if relatively little-known – Metodo Classico (bottle – fermented) sparkling wines
What are the grape varieties in Piemonte?
- Nebbiolo: one of Italy’s greatest native grapes, giving Barolo and Barbaresco in the Langhe, as well as Langhe Nebbiolo and Ghemme, Gattinara, Bramaterra, Carema and other lesser-known red wines in Northern Piedmont. These wines are often complex and exceptionally refined, with a light ruby color anticipating intense aromas of red cherry, violets and balsam herbs that give way to undergrowth, leather and tar with aging. Medium to full-bodied, high acidity and imposing tannins ensure excellent aging potential.
- Barbera: the key grape in Monferrato, also giving Barbera d’Alba in the Langhe. Darker than Nebbiolo, high acidity and moderate tannic heft are its distinctive features, making for easily recognizable wines that range from simple and immediately-pleasing to rich, complex, and velvety.
- Dolcetto: native to the Langhe, it gives inky and slightly rustic red wines redolent of sweet black fruits and violets, usually displaying slightly powdery tannins and matching hearty Piedmontese cuisine. Dolcetto di Ovada, from a different clone, is slightly lighter and more refined.
- Arneis: the key white grape in Langhe and the neighboring Roero region, yielding easy-drinking whites focusing on zesty acidity.
- Timorasso: an up-and-coming white grape from Southern Piedmont, it produces full-bodied whites bursting with aromas of botanical herbs, marzipan, petrol and flint – at times recalling Riesling, even though it tends to be more powerful and alcoholic on the palate. Crisp acidity allows Timorasso to age like fine red wines.
- Moscato Bianco: this aromatic white variety yields light and perfumed sweet wines. Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante are the reference denominations, covering a large portion of the provinces of Asti, Alessandria, and Cuneo.
- Cortese: thriving in Southeastern Piedmont, it gives Gavi, an historical white wine, ranging from lemony and refreshing in its youth to smoky and complex when undergoing extended aging in bottle or on the fine lees.
- Other key white wines from native grapes include crisp and herbal Erbaluce di Caluso from Northern Piedmont, savory and perfumed Nascetta from the Langhe, and Favorita (Vermentino).
- Other key red wines from native grapes include Freisa d’Asti, Grignolino d’Asti, Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato. Brachetto d’Acqui produces light sweet wines.
- Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the most popular international grapes in Piedmont, usually giving Metodo Classico (bottle-fermented) sparkling wines such as Alta Langa from the highest reaches of the Langhe. Chardonnay also gives a few ambitious, barrel-aged still whites.