In Piedmont, a mile makes a world of difference. The Nebbiolo grape can shapeshift from one village to the next–taking the form of a gentle Ghemme wine or a bucking Barolo. The incredible diversity of soils, terrain, and climates of northern Italy’s foothills makes for a microcosm of wines both amazingly ageable and super fresh. And unlike other high-profile regions, there are plenty of affordable, under-the-radar sub-regions and varietals to explore in Piedmont. At Astor Wines & Spirits, we’re proud to say we have nearly 200 incredible bottles from this hot-ticket wine destination.
Barolo and Barbaresco are certainly the king and queen of Piedmont–having turned the Nebbiolo grape into nobility. These wines tend to develop complex notes of rose petals and underbrush but can take their time to get good-and-ready: It’s suggested you wait up to 10-15 years before opening most of them (luckily, we have plenty with decades of age).
The prestige and power of Nebbiolo oftentimes overshadows two of Piedmont’s most widely planted grapes, Barbera and Dolcetto. Compared to Nebbiolo, Barbera-based wines are definitely friendlier. But they’re still Italian wine: dusty tannins, cherry fruit, and a decently-rich body. Meanwhile, black licorice aromas and and blackberry flavors abound in the low-acid, super-smooth Dolcetto wines. Both Barbera and Dolcetto can be found in the Piedmont subregion of Alba and can be consumed as early as you’d like.
But those are not the only red grapes cultivated in these parts. Explore such exotic Piedmont varietals as Ruché and Grignolino: Ruché is a very unique wine from the Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG that often exhibits roses, pepper, black cherries, and cinnamon with moderately high tannin; And Grignolino is famous for its bright, fresh, light-bodied, and incredibly aromatic wines that are at once perfectly food-friendly and fantastic on their own.
If you’re eager to reacquaint yourself with Italy’s mind-boggling array of wines, start again from the top: Drink from the Piedmont.