The historical region of Piedmont in the Northwest of Italy, started by the Greeks and refined by the Romans, literally means ‘foot of the mountain’ and indeed its vineyards find themselves on very steep hillsides at the bottom of the Alps. Here the vines enjoy rich land, Alpine water, plenty of sunshine and little rain thanks to shelter from the mountains. There is very little blending of grapes and most Piedmont fine wines use just the Nebbiolo variety which ripens well due to the fog surrounding certain areas, in fact Nebbiolo comes from the word Nebbia meaning fog.
Limited in production, Barolo is one of the big names here and, known as the ‘king of wines and wine of kings’, its intense colour and tannic, full-bodied flavours along with its huge capacity to age make it one of Italy’s most prestigious and rare fine wines. Another renowned Italian wine area is Barbaresco, also a Nebbiolo but with softer tannin thus making it more approachable to drink at an earlier age. Both Barolo and Barbaresco wines have to be aged in oak for certain amounts of time prior to release.