Getting to grips with Piedmont _

Piedmont’s wines are favoured by foodies, and perfect alongside autumnal flavours. Barbara Drew MW talks us through the famous Italian wine region’s incredible depth and breadth.

Piedmont is one of my favourite Italian wine regions, with its rolling hills, autumn fogs and hearty cuisine. As with every region of this diverse country, the breadth of wines produced is astonishing, and the quality of the best easily matches some of the finest wines in the world. It is a region you can get lost in, both literally and metaphorically. But if you’re still finding your way when it comes to Piedmont’s wine, fear not – here, I’ve signposted some of the key wine styles to look out for.

What’s in Piedmont’s vineyards?


Like every region in Italy, Piedmont has plenty of unique, indigenous grape varieties to intrigue and delight. Alongside these little-known varieties, you’ll always find some familiar, grapes of French origin, too. This means that for the white wines, there are three key styles to look out for.

First there are the everyday drinking white wines. These tend towards moderate alcohol levels (12-12.5%), often citrusy, with crisp acidity and no oak. A tangy Gavi di Gavi is the finest example of such a wine, though the lesser-known Favorita, often peachy and floral, also falls into this group.

Then we have the sparsely planted, off-the-beaten track discoveries. With nearly 1,000 local grape varieties (or autochthonous, to use the technical term – try saying that after a glass of Dolcetto), there are always new vinous discoveries to unearth in Italy. My favourite amongst these is Arneis – the name itself meaning “little rascal”, due to its capricious nature in the vineyard and winery. Richer than Gavi or Favorita, with a tropical and mineral flavour, Arneis has bright acidity and is incredibly food-friendly. Only a handful of producers are working with this grape, but they are gradually coaxing it back from the brink of extinction and making exquisite wines in the process.

Finally, like many regions in this country of wine, more “international” grapes are starting to appear – French grapes that have travelled the globe and ended up settling in foreign lands. Chief among these is Chardonnay, which is treated here with as much reverence as in Burgundy. Some of the greatest examples, such as Roagna’s Solea, can easily compete with the best Chardonnays from around the world.