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of piedmont - I paesaggi vitivinicoli

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of piedmont - I paesaggi vitivinicoli
ALL THE SHADES
OF PIEDMONT
VINEYARD LANDSCAPE OF LANGHE-ROERO AND MONFERRATO
IS A
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Piedmont
PIEDMONT, UNESCO’S WORLD
HERITAGE VINEYARDS
Piedmont is a region in northwest Italy with a long
and important vocation for winemaking. Its name,
meaning “at the foot of the mountains”, refers to the
lie of its land: on one side, it is protected by the
Alps, while up from the Ligurian Sea to the south
blows the warm marin wind. This combination
creates an especially mild climate suitable for vine
cultivation. For centuries, the grape and wine have
been part and parcel of the culture of the
Piedmontese people. Wine has always been
synonymous with a strong historical and cultural
identity and the earliest evidence of winemaking
dates back to the 10th century BC. Down the years,
production choices have been oriented towards
denominations that guarantee origin and quality:
hence, today most of the bottles produced come
under one of the 18 DOCGs or 42 DOCs. In this
important economy, the men and women who
renew their deep bond with the land and the vine
through their daily labours count just as much as
the figures. In June 2014, the vineyard landscape of
the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, along with the
“underground cathedrals” (the historical wine
cellars) of Canelli, were recognised as a UNESCO
World Heritage site.
19,000 winegrowing estates
43,500 hectares of vineyards
2.5 million hectolitres of wine produced every year
Picture: Grinzane Cavour Castle
S OIL, SHELLS AND FOSSILS:
WHEN THERE WAS SEA IN PIEDMONT
Langhe
Monferrato
Roero
Canavese
Collina Torinese
Tortonese
From two to five million years ago,
the sea reached as far as the Alps.
Its ancient presence lives on today
in Piedmont in the form of the
fossils of the animals that lived in it:
shells and the remains of fin
whales and other marine animals
have been found in many places,
notably in the wine hills of the
Roero and Langa districts and of
the provinces of Asti and
Alessandria. During the Pliocene,
the sea also affected soil types,
calcareous marls differentiated by
geological era: sandier in the
Roero and Monferrato Astigiano
districts (“Asti sands”), richer in silt
and clay between the Langa hills
and the area round Acqui Terme.
Types are more varied in the area
around Gavi, where red and white
soils alternate with sand and stone.
All are terrains highly suitable for
vine growing.
T HE L ANGA
HILLS,
HOME TO NOBLE REDS
The Langa, which means “narrow strip of land”, is
an area of wine hills and valleys between the River
Tanaro and the Ligurian Apennines: thousands of
hectares of vineyards and, all around, horizons
capped by medieval hilltop villages with towers and
castles at altitudes of up to 950 metres above sea
level. The heart and soul of the area is the small
town of Alba, famous all over the world for its white
truffle, Tuber Magnatum Pico. The land here is ideal
for the production of noble red wines with the
Nebbiolo grape: meaning Barolo and Barbaresco.
Other lesser-known reds, such as Dogliani, made
with the Dolcetto grape, Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba,
Barbera d’Alba and Nebbiolo d’Alba are also
growing in popularity. Last but not least, rare and
recherché grape varieties give rise to niche wines,
such as the scented Verduno Pelaverga, that are
making Piedmontese winegrowing and its
micro-denominations all the more unique.
Barolo Docg
Barbaresco Docg
Dogliani Docg
Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba Docg
Barbera d’Alba Doc
Nebbiolo d’Alba Doc
Dolcetto d’Alba Doc
Langhe Doc
Verduno Pelaverga Doc
Picture: Langa vineyard landscape
THE MONFERRATO DISTRICT: FAIRYTALE CASTLES
AND VINEYARDS AMID GENTLY ROLLING HILLS
Magnificent castles, old churches and evocative medieval
villages with tall towers - the rolling Monferrato hills, which
occupy the square formed by the towns of Asti, Alessandria,
Acqui Terme and Gavi, are rich in history, vineyards and
natural beauty. In this area, for centuries strategic for
commerce between the Mediterranean and the rest of
Europe, numerous varieties of red and white grapes are
grown. Barbera d’Asti is the red grape that best reflects the
land and its people. But just as typical, albeit in smaller
quantities, are wines such as Freisa and the Ruchè of
Castagnole Monferrato - a few hectares of vine rows that
yield a red with a scent of violets. Moving down seawards, we
comes across Gavi, an old, scented, elegant white made with
Cortese grapes.
Barbera d’Asti Docg
Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato Docg
Grignolino d’Asti Doc
Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese Doc
Piemonte Doc
Barbera del Monferrato Doc
Dolcetto d’Acqui Doc
Dolcetto d’Asti Doc
Freisa d’Asti Doc
Albugnano Doc
Picture: Monferrato vineyard landscape
T HE R OERO
DISTRICT:
THE WILD BEAUTY OF THE ROCCHE
The Roero district is situated at the heart of the
wine hills between Langa and Monferrato. An
aristocratic land, it is named after a noble local
family that was powerful during the Middle Ages.
The characteristic landscape alternates towers,
vineyards, orchards, woods and the wild beauty
of the so-called rocche. In the Roero hills this
ancient and unique phenomenon of erosion of
the River Tanaro has created precipices that
appear all of a sudden, some of them hundreds of
metres deep. The sandy hill walls create sharp
rocks with the most wild and wonderful shapes,
and magnificent natural amphitheatres through
which it is possible to walk following the old
peasant tracks. The rocche also testify to the
civilization of wine, revealing the geological strata
in which the vines sink their roots.
Roero Docg
Roero Arneis Docg
Picture: the Roero Rocche
F IVE
SHADES OF WHITE
The other face of Piedmont is represented by white wines
that combine tradition and innovation. Old grape varieties
such as Cortese, Timorasso and Erbaluce are now
presented using new languages and interpretations.
Cortese is elegantly expressed in Gavi Docg, in eleven
municipalities around the town of Gavi. Remaining within
the province of Alessandria, another expression of this
grape is found in Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato Doc.
Erbaluce is the white wine par excellence of the Canavese
district and it bears the name of Caluso, a small town in
the area: it is a versatile grape variety that can be used to
make dry, metodo classico and passito wine. Timorasso
has been rediscovered by the winegrowers of the Curone,
Grue, Ossona and Val Borbera valleys, in an area
protected against the winds, in which the vine finds its
ideal habitat. The youngest and most modern
interpretation of white (and rosé) wine is Alta Langa
Metodo Classico, a highly prestigious brut or pas dosé
sparkling wine. Just 110 hectares cultivated with Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay on the hills of 146 municipal districts
to the right of the River Tanaro. Every bottle is filled with
wine from a single vintage, and the year of reference is
indicated on the label.
Gavi Docg
Alta Langa Docg
Erbaluce di Caluso Docg
Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato Doc
Timorasso Doc
Picture: Gavi fortress
S MALL
DOC WINES
AND “HEROIC” VITICULTURE
Carema
Freisa di Chieri and
Collina Torinese
Colli Tortonesi
Great, internationally renowned wines but also
small Docs, often produced thanks to the most
“heroic” viticulture, requiring an awful lot of
hard work and passion for the steep Piedmont
hills. One such wine is Carema, made with
Nebbiolo grapes cultivated on terraces dug into
the rocks that characterise the landscape
where Piedmont meets the Valle d’Aosta. Then
there are the wines of the Colli Tortonesi,
another border area, located in the Tortona
hills, and a strategic crossroads in centuries
gone by. Freisa di Chieri is an old black grape
grown in the area between the River Po (Chieri
and the hills above Turin) and Monferrato,
cultivated and passed on to us by the
Augustinian monks of Vezzolano Abbey. The
Doc Collina Torinese was established in 1999
and expesses the native grape varieties:
Bonarda, Barbera, Malvasia and Cari.
Carema
Collina Torinese
Colli Tortonesi
Freisa di Chieri
Freisa dei Colli Tortonesi
Picture: Queen vineyard of Turin
A ROMATIC WINES
The Monferrato hills also give life to a unique aromatic
wine: Moscato d’Asti, nicknamed the “gold of the hills”.
White Moscato grapes are also used to make an
internationally famous sparkling wine or spumante, Asti
DOCG. Some of the historical areas where Moscato d’Asti
Docg is made are characterised by sori, steeply sloping
vineyards which are hard to cultivate but are of the most
outstanding beauty. The sori contributed to the recognition
of the area as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Moving to
the old spa town of Acqui Terme, we come to the home of
Brachetto, a sweet, aromatic red that goes well with
desserts and fruit.
Asti Docg
Moscato
d’Asti Docg
Picture: moscato vineyard under the snow
Brachetto
d’Acqui Docg
Malvasia di
Castelnuovo
Don Bosco Doc
Picture: Canelli underground cathedrals
T H E U N E SCO W ORLD H ERIT AGE
“UNDERGROUND CATHEDRALS” AND “INFERNOT”
The hills of Piedmont have a hidden soul: a close-knit network of historical cellars, underground tunnels that run for kilometre upon
kilometre from Langa to Monferrato to Roero. Hand-dug, some of them are as majestic as cathedrals, such as Canelli’s wine cellars,
masterpieces of “oeno-architecture”, became UNESCO’s World Heritage site. Others, known as infernot (the darkest corner), are
small galleries hewn out of the soil by hand. They are also known as crutin, or small caves. The most prized wine has rested and
aged in them for centuries. The infernot in the Monferrato district have been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Monferrato cave
THE
WINE HARVEST, AN
ANCIENT RITE OF THE LAND
Piedmontese families hand down
stories and knowledge about
work in the vineyard and the
cellar. Despite the modernization
of agricultural equipment, the way
of making wine has never
changed. The grapes are still
picked by hand and the harvest is
one
of
the
most
greatly
anticipated events in the farming
calendar. It generally begins in
the early autumn, from September
to October, when the first mists
descend on the hills and the cold
turns the leaves red and yellow. In
Piedmont, the harvest signifies
hard work but is also a rite and an
opportunity to make merry. In the
weeks until the grapes are all in
the cellar and the old vines go
back to sleep for the winter, the
vine rows echo to the sound of
people shouting and singing.
TOWERS, CASTLES AND CHURCHES:
PIEDMONT’S MEDIEVAL “TREASURE”
Piedmont guards an immense “treasure”
of medieval towers, forts, castles and
churches: a heritage of history and
monuments that makes the region all the
more exceptional and unique. From the
castle of Barolo to the fort of Gavi, here
you take a big step back in time. Out in the
countryside, among the vineyards, the
region is dotted with hundreds of small
churches and votive chapels housing
sculptures and paintings from centuries
past. Other historical testimonies are the
casot or ciabot, typical red brick
constructions used to this day by farmers
to store their tools or rest from their
labours in the vineyards. Every vineyard
has one. Casot and farmhouses combine
to give the landscape of Piedmont’s wine
hills their distinctive appearance.
Left picture: San Bernardino chapel in Paroldo;
right picture: Vengone tower, Roccaverano.
THE
MYSTERIOUS CHARM OF
T HE A L B A W H ITE TR UFFL E
In Piedmont, autumn is the season in
which Tuber Magnatum Pico, the Alba
white truffle, is gathered. This highly prized
and aromatic underground fungus grows
in symbiosis with the roots of some trees,
notably oaks and poplars. It is hunted by
dogs specially trained to sniff out its
characteristic odour. When a dog locates a
truffle, it starts scratching the soil with its
paws and the truffle hunter, or tartufaio,
eases out the fungus with a small hoe. The
truffle is a refined, expensive delicacy,
which is grated over many Piedmontese
dishes. Truffle hunts are often carried out
in the woods by night in the mist and the
moonlight, all of which further enhances
the charm of the Piedmontese autumn.
THE EXCELLENCE OF
PIEDMONTESE CUISINE
Piedmont is also a region of
great gastronomic and agri-food
excellence: from cheese to
native breed beef, to rice. A
great deal of fruit is also grown:
kiwis, peaches, apples and,
above all, the “Tonda e Gentile
di Langa” hazelnut, a key
ingredient in many a cake and
chocolate. Piedmont’s excellent
produce is much prized and
enhanced by great international
restaurants and the region’s
cuisine is well known and loved
all over the world. Its best-known
dishes are: tajarin, handmade
egg pasta ribbons, often served
with white truffle; agnolotti, also
known as plin, pasta stuffed with
meat and vegetables; bagna
cauda, a warm sauce made of
anchovies, garlic and oil into
which vegetables are dipped;
bonet, a chocolate dessert; and
zabaglione, a custard made with
eggs and Moscato d’Asti wine.
The repertoire is completed and
enriched by wines and truffles.
Left picture: bagna cauda;
right picture: tajarin with white truffle
THE PIEMONTE LAND OF
PERFECTION CONSORTIUM
Piemonte Land of Perfection came
into being on July 29 2011 to
promote
and
promulgate
this
unique heritage of excellences
and dream landscapes. This major
consortium, which brings together
all
the
main
wine
Consorzio dell’Alta Langa
www.altalangadocg.it
Consorzio dell’Asti
www.astidocg.it
Consorzio del Barolo Barbaresco
Alba Langhe e Dogliani
www.langhevini.it
Consorzio del Brachetto
e dei Vini d’Acqui
www.brachettodacqui.com
Consorzio della Barbera
d’Asti e Vini del Monferrato
www.viniastimonferrato.it
Consorzio Vini Doc Caluso
Carema Canavese
www.caremavini.it
Consorzio Vini Colli Tortonesi
www.collitortonesi.com
Consorzio della Freisa di
Chieri e Collina Torinese
www.freisadichieri.it
Consorzio del Gavi
www.consorziogavi.com
Consorzio del Roero
www.consorziodelroero.it
Vignaioli Piemontesi
www.vignaioli.it
protection
consortia and the most important
producers’ association, seeks to
promote Piedmont’s wines, the
excellence of its agri-food produce
and the beauty of its landscapes,
especially on overseas markets.
Its members are:
Piemonte Land of Perfection
Via Alba 15 - 12050 Castagnito (Cn)
[email protected]
[email protected]
web: www.piemonteland.it
graphics by: ALESSANDRO RIZZOGLIO
words by: FIAMMETTA MUSSIO
photos by: FRANCO BELLO, ENZO MASSA,
GIULIO MORRA, BRUNO MURIALDO
translation by: ANNETTE FOWLES, JOHN IRVING
printed by: TEC-ARTIGRAFICHE.IT
under the patronage of
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