A whistle-stop tour of Piedmont, Italy
Most people in the wine trade think of the Piedmont region of northern Italy as the home of Barolo and Barbaresco. These are red wines produced from the Nebbiolo grape – big, structured, brawny beasts, which, with age, develop an orange hue and complex, defining characteristics of roses, leather, and tar. The best of them, beguiling and highly valued, count amongst the most expensive in all of Italy. The English gentry would enjoy such prize bottles with their game birds. By contrast, stylistically, the Piedmont region is also home to the famous white wine Gavi di Gavi, produced from the Cortese grape. These wines are pale green and aromatic, with crisp, tangy flavours on the palate. They are considered by many to be the ultimate seafood wine, with zesty, mouth-watering acidity and tropical fruit notes. Basically, if you like good Sauvignon Blanc, you will LOVE Gavi. Every good wine merchant has at least one, and ours is La Giustiana `Lugarara` Gavi di Gavi 2019, £19.99 per bottle, which combines green apples with white peach and lime zest in perfect balance. The Italians are very good at producing wines to go with their local foodstuff, but they are also good at producing sweet palate cleansers. We stock three of the very best of Piedmont, each low in alcohol, aromatic, and super-fresh: 1) Fontanafredda `Moncucco` Moscato d`Asti, a straw-yellow wine, slightly sparkling, of the Moscato grape, sweet, floral, with bright notes of peaches & pears (5.5% Alc), £13.99 per 50cl bottle; 2) Contero Brachetto d`Acqui, a beautiful salmon pink wine, slightly sparkling, of the Brachetto grape, bright cherries & violets, bittersweet (5.5% Alc), £20.99 per bottle; and 3) Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d`Acqui Spumante, this one fully sparkling, a deep ruby colour, with aromas of strawberries and rose hip, bittersweet (7% Alc), £22.99 per bottle. They also make perfect accompaniments to pastries, and strawberries. And according to legend, Mark Anthony gifted Cleopatra the first ever Brachetto wine, believing it to be an aphrodisiac. Perhaps that is why these wines are so popular at weddings. Cheers everyone.