Join Ciclismo Classico and our native Piedmont guides on a Piedmont bike tour and you will add at least three “B” words to your vocabulary: Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera. These wines, woven into the very fabric of the landscape and culture of this region, practically take on mythical qualities. They will become familiar characters as we bike between local vineyards where the owners personally open their doors to Ciclismo guests to share the wine-making knowledge that has been passed down for generations. Here’s a primer on the wines of Piedmont Italy:
Seventy percent of Piedmont’s wines are made from red grapes concentrated in the Langhe and Monferrato hills. More than half of the region's 170,000 acres of vines have earned Italy's prized D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) label, a guarantee of a place name and production formula, awarded by the government. Piedmont also has more D.O.C. zones (50) than any other region in Italy.
Barolo comes from the grapes grown in steep hills southwest of Alba. It ages for at least three years with two years spent in oak or chestnut barrels and emerges with a garnet red color highlighted by orange tones and produces an intense, full-bodied flavor. Barolo is often called the “king of wines” and Piedmont is very much the land of Barolo…
Barbaresco is prominent northeast Alba where there’s a warmer and drier climate. These Nebbiolo grapes ripen earlier and create a wine with less structure. Barbaresco ages for a minimum of two years (at least one in the chestnut or oak barrel) and has an intense ruby red color with a full taste and velvety feel.
Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba is made from the Barbera grape which though common through Italy is thought to have originated in Monferrato in Piedmont. Its color and consistency can vary greatly. Barbera ripen about two weeks before Nebbiolo. The grape produces a blackberry flavor, low tannins and high acidity. Most Barbera producers now use small oak barrels to add spice and cut down in acidity.
Which Piedmont wine will be your favorite? Let us know when you return from Ciclismo’s wine-soaked cycling adventure in Piedmont!