Wine knowledge about Piedmont

Piedmont Wine knowledge

Since Tore, who is the owner of the farm, studied and certified himself as a Sommelier at level WSET Level 3, we have collected some material here so that you, as guests, can familiarize yourself with the region and its wines.

Barolo


Barolo is a wine region in Piedmont. These wines are often called the "King of Wines". Below you will find some facts about the Barolo wines.

  • Barolo must consist of 100% Nebbiolo grapes.
  • The Nebbiolo grape must have grown within the geographical boundaries of one of the mentioned villages.
  • The production and bottling must take place within the geographical area of Barolo.
  • Barolo is aged for at least 38 months, of which at least 18 months in oak barrels.
  • Barolo Riserva is stored for at least 62 months, of which at least 18 months in oak barrels.
  • The villages that are allowed to produce Barolo are the villages: Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba, La Morra and Monforte d'Alba, and these 5 are the most important and account for most of the production. But there are also the Barolo villages of Cherasco, Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour, Novello, Roddi and Verduno.

View from the village of La Morra towards the village of Barolo which see at the far end of the valley.

Barbaresco


Barbaresco is a wine region in Piedmont. These wines are often called the "Queen of Wines". Below you will find some facts about the Barbaresco wines.

  • Barbaresco must consist of 100% Nebbiolo grapes.
  • The Nebbiolo grape must have grown within the geographical boundaries of one of the mentioned villages.
  • The production and bottling must take place within the geographical area of Barbaresco.
  • Barbaresco is stored for at least 24 months, of which at least 9 months in oak barrels.
  • Barbaresco Riserva is stored for at least 48 months, of which at least 9 months in oak barrels.

View from the medieval tower down on the village of Barbaresco.

Alta Langa


Alta Langa is a sparkling white wine of the highest quality from Piedmont, or as you can say Piedmont's white gold! Alta Langa has the highest quality level in Italy, DOCG.

Alta Langa has come on strong in just the last 10 years, becoming increasingly popular as Piedmont's and Italy's answer to Champagne.

  • Alta Langa received the highest DOCG status as recently as 2011.
  • The vineyards must be at least 250 meters above sea level.
  • At least 90% of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero/Pinot Noir grapes.
  • At least 30 months of aging on its lees.
  • The wines must be vintage-designated and produced according to the traditional method (champagne method).
  • First appellation in Piedmont with the traditional method as a requirement.

Gavi


Gavi is a white still wine that is considered as one of Italy's best white wines, if not the best. The area in which it is grown is the southeast corner of Piedmont towards the border with Liguria. Gavi is considered by many to be the white jewel in Piedmont's crown.

Gavi received DOC status in 1974 and was elevated to DOCG status in 1998.

  • Gavi must be made from 100% of the green Cortese grape.
  • The name Gavi comes from the municipality of Gavi, which is located in the middle of the area.
  • They have a minimum alcohol content of 10.5% and 11% for Riserva.
  • There are 11 municipalities in the province of Alessandria (Piedmont) that have the right to make Gavi.
  • Riserva wines may only contain grapes from a single vineyard with at least 12 months of aging, of which at least 6 months in the bottle.
  • Gavi is made in a number of different varieties such as white still wine, frizzante (slightly bubbly) and spumante (bubbles like a champagne). The storage rules also vary between the different variants.

Explanations of terms


Classico

When you see the terms of Classico on the bottle, it means that the wine is made in the area of origin. Simply from the area where the wine began to be made. There are often, stricter rules in this area also apply, which leads to better wines that are usually a little more expensive as well.


Riserva

When it says Riserva on the bottle, it means that the wine has been aged longer than the traditional wine. Often the storage time is doubled for a Riserva such as e.g. for Barolo, Barbaresco and Amarone.


Superiore

When it says Superiore on the bottle, it means that the wine is made from grapes of extra high quality. Often it also means that the wine has been stored longer and has more body and usually 0.5% higher in alcohol.


Metodo classico / Metodo tradizionale

It is the Italian names for the traditional method of making sparkling wine. The same method used to make Champagne.


Tank method / Charmat method

Is today the most common method of making sparkling wine in Venice (Prosecco). A still base wine is poured into a pressure tank with sugar and yeast for a fairly quick fermentation. When the wine is fully fermented, it is sweetened and bottled. Also called the tank method or charmat method.


Frizzante

When it says Frizzante on the bottle, it means that the wine is slightly sparkling or bubbly, often 2-3 bar pressure. Also often on the bottels of carbonated water that it is frizzante.


Spumante

When it says Spumante on the bottle, it means that the wine is a sparkling wine at 3-6 bar pressure. A champagne usually has 5-6 bar pressure in the bottle. The word spumante is not in itself an appellation of its own. The appellations are Franciacorta, Prosecco and AltaLanga they are all spumante, i.e. sparkling wines.


Tranquillo

Tranquillo is sometimes written on the bottle and then it simply means that it is a white still wine.


Botti

Large Slavonian oak barrels that can be in varying sizes, but often in Piedmont between 2700 - 3200 liters.


Barrique

Barrique today has almost legendary status, they are French oak barrels that were first used in Bordeaux and are 225 litres. A barrique barrel is usually used a maximum of two or three times for aging because it can lose as much as 85 percent of its aromas even after the first aging.

In Burgundy, the corresponding cask holds 228 liters and is called piéce instead.

Quality classifications in Italien


It makes things a lot easier if you have an understanding of Italy's wine laws and the various classifications.


The super short version of the classifications below is that if you want a quality wine in Italy, look for a blue label with DOC on the neck of the bottle and you will get the second highest classification. If you find a bottle with a gold-colored label around the neck and the name DOCG, it is Italy's highest and best classification. If you want to know more, continue reading below.


EU produced 3 new classifications in 2012 that apply to all EU countries. However, it takes time to fully transition to this and for level 3, Italy has been allowed to divide it into two own categories called DOC and DOCG.


Vino (table wines)

No geographical origin is indicated for these wines.

If the name of the grape is stated on the label, the rule is that at least 85% of the grapes must come from the specified grape variety and vintage.


IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta)

Is the second level in the quality classification for wines.

For wines with this designation, at least 85% of the grapes must be grown in the specified geographical area. Some winemakers still use the older equivalent IGT designation that applied before 2012


DOP (Protected Designation of Origin)

This is the third and highest classification of wines, however very few print this on the label. Here, Italy has divided this into two additional levels called DOC and DOCG, it is these two quality levels that all Italian wines today print on the label.

DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)

DOC = a blue colored DOC label around the neck of the bottle.

This is like the third classification of wines practically used in Italy. Here, 100% of the grapes must be from the specified area. At least 85% of the grapes must be of the specified grape variety and vintage. Here you can say that you have found a really good quality wine, but whether you like the taste is a completely different matter.

DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)

DOCG = a gold colored DOCG label around the neck of the bottle.

This is like the fourth classification of wines practically used in Italy. The wine is produced according to the rules for DOC and undergoes more and more accurate analyzes and checks. Here, 100% of the grapes must be from the specified area and that it must be bottled precisely in the geographical area. At least 85% of the grapes must be of the specified grape variety and vintage. All DOCG wines must be tasted by an independent committee before bottling. Piedmont is the region in Italy with the most DOCG wines.

Here you can say that you have found a really, really good quality wine, but whether you like the taste is a completely different matter.

MGA (Menzione Geografiche Aggiuntive)

To give another dimension, an even higher level has recently been introduced, which should correspond to the French "Cru" level of wines. However, this is still used to a rather limited produceras in Italy.