We had three terrific tastings over January and February – with both live and Zoom events in Richmond and Teddington. Piedmont was the theme and I was able to indulge in a broad selection of wines that showed some of the classics interspersed with a few varieties and wines that may not have been expected. Piedmont, situated in north west Italy, is one of my all time favourite wine regions. Stunning scenery, wonderful diversity of wines ranging from fizz through to luscious dessert wines, and all combining with delicious gastronomy. Our selection of whites took in a perfumed, delicate Gavi di Gavi that shows how well the Cortese grape performs in this part of Italy; this was followed by an unusual Chardonnay, Nascetta, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling blend from Luigi Baudana, thus showing how these international varieties combine well; and we finished with a delicious Arneis – “the little scamp” – from the beautiful Roero hills. Arneis is definitely a grape worth exploring further.
A Pinot Nero was our first red from a family estate in Laozzolo in the Monferrato hills. Pinot Noir is not a grape that you expect in Piedmont but thrives in the higher altitude with cooler temperatures. This was earthy and spicy with balanced tannins. Next up was a wine made from the Freisa grape – a new name for many. Freisa has been characterised in the past as astringently tannic with high acid, but in recent years modern winemaking has tamed the excesses and the resultant wines are fresh, often unoaked and vibrantly fruity. Franco Conterno’s example was a great example.
The classics of Piedmont duly followed. With Nebbiolo being the most important grape, we strolled through a number of top class examples. A fabulous and forward drinking Barbaresco from the historic local cooperative showed both structure and approachability; the Bric Valdiana from the acclaimed Giovanni Almondo was fresh and vibrant, while the two Barolos showed the true class of Nebbiolo. Both wines were 2012 and were rich and dense, intense with great structure a perfumed earthy fruit.
As a result there was a clamour for a wine tour to the region next year – I will endeavour to make that happen!
For details of the wines, and prices, see the wines we have tasted page.