Tuscany may get all the attention when it comes to dreaming of idyllic vacations in the Italian countryside, while Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan usually top the list of destinations for the city traveler. Of all the spots in Italy I’ve visited, though, the region that most strongly beckons my return is Piedmont.
With that in mind, it’s my pleasure to announce that I’ll be hosting the next edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. Our theme for the February session will be “A Passion for Piedmont” (a title I’ve borrowed with all due respect from wine writer Matt Kramer’s Piedmontese cookbook).
For any who don’t know it, Piedmont is situated in the northwestern corner of Italy. Nestled in the shadow of the Alps, Piedmont is close enough to the French border that there’s a hint (a scant hint) of French/Italian cultural interchange. While it’s close enough to the Mediterranean that on a clear day you can catch a faint view of the sea from atop the region’s highest hillsides, Piedmont is entirely landlocked. Many in Piedmont still speak the local Piedmontese dialect, quite different from classic Italian. And while the cultural tone of the region is sometimes thought of as cool and reserved in comparison to the warm, garrulous nature of southern Italy, I’ve found the Piedmontese people to be incredibly welcoming and forthcoming. You just have to take a little time to get to know them.
The same thing can be said of the region’s wines. They don’t tend to be as forward and immediately open as the wines of southern Italy. But there’s incredible depth and diversity to the region’s viticultural range, a range that’s well worth the time it takes to explore and understand.
While there are some fine white wines made in the region – from Gavi di Gavi to Roero Arneis to Moscato d’Asti – there’s no denying that Piedmont is red wine country. The Nebbiolo-based wines of Barolo and Barbaresco may steal the thunder. But it’s the wines made from Piedmont’s other two primary varieties – Barbera and Dolcetto – that appear most often on the Piedmontese table. Less common regional specialties like Freisa, Grignolino and Brachetto add local color and help to make Piedmont one of Italy’s most diverse wine zones.
There’s geographical diversity to spare as well. Barolo and Barbaresco again may take center stage, as the show pieces of the Langhe, the wine zone focused around the city of Alba. But there are lovely expressions of Barbera to be found around Asti and in the Monferrato hills. Dolcetto is the lifeblood in Dogliani, just to the south of Barolo. And a good stretch further to the northeast, in the Alto Piemonte, Nebbiolo again exerts its nobility in zones such as Gattinara, Ghemme and Lessona.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is simple. Pick a wine, any wine, from Piedmont, taste it, consider it, jot down a few notes and then write up your impressions of the wine. Your piece can be as simple or as detailed as you see fit – in either case, I encourage you to explore and enjoy.
If you don’t have your own blog, you’re still more than welcome to participate. Just leave your write-up as a comment to this posting. Or you can e-mail your review to me – davidmcduff (at) verizon dot net – and I’ll post it for you. Most of the bloggers out there should already know the routine; just post a piece on your own blog and send a link to your posting to me, either via e-mail or using the comment field below.
Wine Blogging Wednesday, by the way, is a monthly event, started over four years ago by Lenn Thompson at LennDevours. Participants select a wine based on a chosen theme and then write about their experiences.
Reports for this 54th edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday are due on Wednesday, February 18, 2009. I’ll post a summary of everyone’s contributions the following weekend. In the meanwhile, get shopping. And stay tuned here, as I’ll post reminders – and maybe even a bonus point challenge or two – over the next few weeks.