You’ll fall in love with Piemonte
Judging by recent posts, you might think we’ve gone off the deep end for the Piemonte (or Piedmont), and you’d be right. Julie and I spent six days in the Langhe (an area inside the Piemonte region) last September. Why would we fall in love with a wine region, thousands of miles away from home where they don’t get many visitors and they don’t speak our language? Over the next few weeks, I’ll try to give you an idea of why you might like to visit and fall in love with Piemonte, too. Consider this an introduction or a preview to upcoming posts.
The Piemonte Region
The Piemonte region is in the far northwestern corner of Italy. Rural and very hilly, vineyards cover all the prime hillsides. Some aspects of the region are compact: the Barolo wine region is only 5 miles wide at its widest point. The Barbaresco region is only a short way away and is even smaller than Barolo. There is so much more to the area than just the well known areas, all the more reason to return.
The Piemonte is less touristy than many areas of Italy. In fact, Rick Steeves’ Italy tourbook doesn’t list the Piemonte region at all. It’s as if it doesn’t exist. If you’re the type who likes places just a bit off the beaten path, you’ll really enjoy the region.
The towns, built in the Middle Ages, were perched on the hilltops for strategic reasons. Now we just enjoy their beauty.
Unlike the U.S., vineyards in Italy are open for walking. In fact, there are signed hiking trails from town to town which go right through the vineyards. Want to go walk in a famous Barolo cru like Cannubi? Yep. Go right ahead. If you go in September, you can see nearly ripe grapes hanging on the vine. Beautiful!
You’ll learn identify the various grapes by the appearance of their vines, the grape bunches and the grapes themselves.
Wine: Moscato, Arneis, Dolcetto, Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo
The best known wines in the region are Barolo and Barbaresco, elegant wines made from the Nebbiolo grape. However, most winegrowers make a variety of wines, including Langhe Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. Prefer white wines? Arneis, Anascetta, Favorita, Langhe Bianco – so many wines to try!
You won’t go hungry here! Piemontese cuisine offers many traditional dishes from the beginning of the meal to the end. There is Michelin star dining available in the area, but you might find the local wine bars so full of good food and friendly people that you have no need to go anywhere else.
Activities: winery visits, truffle hunt, vineyard walks, cooking a harvest meal
Bigger wineries do have tasting rooms, but you can visit very small wineries where a wine tasting is more of a visit with the winegrower where he or she will want to share their story and show you their vineyards in addition to sharing their wines with you.
The region is famous for its truffles, and if you visit in the fall through spring, you might get the opportunity to go on a truffle hunt.
You can take a cooking class, but during harvest, you might have the opportunity to cook for a vineyard crew.
Whatever you do, leave a little time to just relax!
The reason you’ll want to return? The people. You’ll be struck by the warm welcome you receive and how people you have only just met treat you as a friend. You’ll want to visit to make your own personal connections. Here are a couple of ours:
The best part of any place is the people you meet and how they welcome you. The people you meet here will be people you want to see again. You might find apertivo time extending well into the evening with new friends!