LANGHE WINE TASTINGS, A JOURNEY TO DISCOVER PIEDMONT THROUGH ITS MOST PRIZED PRODUCT
Have you decided to take a Langhe Wine Tasting Tour or a short vacation in Piedmont and want to learn about its wines? Searching for typical Piedmontese wine is a beautiful excuse to discover the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato hills. I will tell you more specifically about the southwest area of Piedmont. A site with a high concentration of wineries and fine wines perfect for your Langhe wine-tasting experience.
Do you want to understand more before you go to the winery to taste? Or are you an expert and want a handy vademecum to “brush up” on wine words?
Don’t worry; you’re in the right place: SlowDays is here to help you. I will give you some tips on how to “taste these places” and the magnificent wines that are produced here.
Five tips for making the most of Langhe Wine Tastings and beyond!:
1. The introductory words of the wine dictionary. We explore Piedmont DOCs and DOCGs in our Piedmont wine tastings.
You should use some basic concepts you learn to best experience Langhe wine tastings. In Piedmont, the winemakers don’t expect you to be a connoisseur and don’t assume you already know everything. In the wineries, they are ready to share their knowledge, but.
Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin
- PIEDMONTESE DOCG Fine wines such as: Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Asti, Asti spumante and Moscato d’Asti
Controlled Designation of Origin
- Typical Piedmont wine, delicious, certainly not “worse.” They are less prestigious because they are made from larger, less specialized land areas. Wines that require, usually, less aging. PIEDMONTESE DOC: Barbera, Langhe, Cortese, and Freisa, are just some wines you can discover.
These are the only classifications of typical Piedmont wines: Piedmont Region has no IGT wines.
CASSINA or CASCINA
- The farmhouse, country cottage, farmstead, Rustico: In Piedmont, it is known as Cascina. Where the family dwelling is located and where Wine is usually made. Cascine has a name, and frequently the name of the Cascina is also the name of the Wine produced. Today we have lovely Cascine, renovated or rebuilt with taste and love while retaining the old charm. A more in-depth Wine Tour will go to the wineries and introduce you to some farmsteads.
CROTE and CRUTIN
- Crote is the wine cellars. Crutins are the ancient cellars dug into the tufa rock that most homes in parts of Roero and Monferrato have.
SPUMANTE – sparkling
- That makes froth! It is a unique sparkling wine. It can be white, rosé or red. Uncorked and served, it produces an abundant and light foam. It is a consequence of carbon dioxide obtained by a double fermentation process. The second fermentation occurs in the bottle by the ‘classic’ or champenois method or in an autoclave by the Charmant method.
BAROLO, BARBARESCO or NEBBIOLO
- Barolo is a Wine made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes, as is Barbaresco. What does it mean?
In eleven communes of the Langhe namely Barolo, Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba and part of the territories of the communes of La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Roddi, Verduno, Cherasco, Diano d’Alba, Novello and Grinzane Cavour in the province of Cuneo, BAROLO can be produced from Nebbiolo grapes.
While in the areas of Barbaresco, Neive, Treiso (formerly a hamlet of Barbaresco), and “San Rocco,” first a municipality of Barbaresco and later aggregated with the city of Alba, BARBARESCO can be produced from Nebbiolo grapes.
Then we have Nebbiolo Wine that comes from the grape variety of the same name!
Complicated? No! Because the land, the method of processing, and the tradition give rise to quite different wines. All excellent and all to be tasted! Trying is believing!!!
Then if you still want a nice little complication, I must tell you that there are two types of Nebbiolo! The one with the vines that grow in the Alba area and give rise to Nebbiolo d’Alba and the one that produces in the Langhe around Dogliani and up to Cortemilia, called Langhe Nebbiolo!
When they ask you if you have tasted the “best Piedmontese wine,” they probably mean the most famous wines, Barolo and Barbaresco. But you will also know that defining the best wine is risky when excellent quality is widespread! You will find out during your Langhe wine tastings, we are sure!
2. Tasting in the Langhe: The indigenous grape varieties
What are indigenous grape varieties? The term autochthonous, referring to a grape variety indicates that it was born and evolved in an area and has adapted to the point that it can be said to merge with it. In these wines, you may find “your wine.” That fine Piemontese wine, perhaps not so well known that will stick in your memory. It happens; it does!
In Italy, we have a heritage of more than a hundred native grape varieties of established tradition. Some grape varieties are well known; others are on the verge of extinction.
In Piedmont, we have wide native varieties. Some almost extinct grape varieties have been recovered and today are the pride of small producers. They are wines rich in personality and are an excellent response to the worldwide standardization of taste.
Piedmont has native white grape varieties and red grape varieties.
Piedmont’s native white wines.
- White Barbera (rare grape)
- Favorita (furmentin)
- Malvasia from Schierano
- White Muscat
Arneis and Favorita: an invitation to taste.
The whites of Roero: Arneis and Favorita
Historic castles, land planted with hazelnut groves, vineyards, and numerous orchards, alternating with Rocche and wooded hills: the Roero. Arneis a la favorita are the two most common white grape varieties in the area from which Roero Arneis and Langhe Favorita are produced. Both are dry with elegant aromas of white flowers and white and yellow-fleshed fruit. A genuinely unique territorial cuisine will help you enhance the flavor of these two beautiful whites. Through guided tastings, you will understand the long history, which began in the 15th century, that links the two grape varieties, Arneis and favorita, to the Roero territory.
Moscato d’Asti and the Sorì to be discovered
First, a journey through time between the pages of famous Italian writers such as Beppe Fenoglio and Cesare Pavese. Authors who lived and chose to write about these very lands. We are to the right of the Tanaro River, in an area straddling the provinces of Asti, Alessandria, and Cuneo. A place of steep hillsides that hint at the hard work of cultivation that translates into the sweetness of Moscato d’Asti. Aromatic and fresh wine, the wine of the feast. You can taste the white Moscato, from which Moscato d’Asti is made, in different sweet and dry expressions. The cuisine made of typical ingredients will guide you to discover the many combinations with Moscato d’Asti. It would be possible to combine a visit to a mill that produces refined flours that respect the ancient milling traditions.
Piedmont red wine, the indigenous grape varieties.
- Croatina (bonarda)
- Malvasia from Casorzo
- Neretta cuneese
- Neretto di Barlo
- Nero Buono
Barbera: and I accompany you with my toast.
Barbera d’Asti and Nizza Monferrato
Monferrato is recognized as the historical production area of Barbera d’Asti, and Nizza Monferrato is its capital of choice. A green sea of rolling hills will lead you to discover small family-run wineries. Ua stop in the medieval town of Nizza Monferrato will be interesting. You will find wineries that made Barbera d’Asti history in the early 1900s. Tasting the various Barberas, you will appreciate their unique characteristics. A wine of marked acidity, which improves and mellows with time. A wine of great versatility, which goes well with the local cuisine where typical Asti meets Ligurian influence.
From this list, one can understand the richness of Piedmontese wine production!
But what if I told you that other native grape varieties are even more secret and fascinating? For example, Nascetta’s? Great little DOC of Novello! It is a grape variety revived in 1990, about 100 years after the first indications about this type of grape.
SlowDays seeks out and learns about these small but essential realities. On a Wine Tour, you can range from the big critical red wines to the small productions of native wines. And many times, these goodies are the favorites of SlowDays friends!
Any more advice?
The rugged and intriguing Alto Monferrato is waiting for you to taste Gavi.
Gavi, a medieval village, a small jewel of the Alto Monferrato. You find it almost hidden between the Apennines and the sea. Its geographical location, where cultures and flavors have crossed, gives Gavi minerality, freshness, and elegant white flowers, honey, and citrus aromas. Wine derived from Cortese grapes. I can create a journey through historic wineries rooted in the territory and villages whose architecture was influenced by neighboring Liguria. You will taste the area’s wines paired with dishes capable of combining the flavors of Genoese cuisine and local ingredients.
Barbaresco has nothing to envy about the more famous Barolo. Indeed, the game between the two is delicious and addictive!
3. Langhe wine tour to discover Piedmont’s DOC and DOCG wines
Piedmont is a rather large region. And as a result, it is not a region that you will be able to get to know ALL in a weekend!
The slow philosophy fits our region like a glove. Our roads are to be traveled slowly while enjoying the scenery. To taste the wines of the Ossola Valley and then taste a wine from the Langhe, we have to travel about 250km. And between towns, we will have missed dozens of excellent wines!
Important rule: Don’t think you are going around hills and being able to get in to taste without having made a reservation!
If someone did, it was a lucky case! Wineries are busy and usually do not have staff available to give you explanations and follow you through the tastings. You have to think ahead about the route and make reservations.
To plan the trip, you can, of course, turn to SlowDays, or you can inquire at the institutional sites for Tourism.
Tourist events in Piedmont to take advantage of calendar events or the Tourism Boards of the wine cities you plan to visit.
In the most important cities, you can also find our wines in Enoteche. They usually are stocked and can give you some pointers.
3.1 If you want to do your own Langhe wine tasting, you must be patient!
If they don’t get back to you immediately, if they don’t book on the very day you wanted, or maybe they don’t speak your language…try to understand them. They are busy making, bottling, and labeling, and perhaps they are slightly shy.
But they are wonderful people who love their work and will let you know what is in the heart of a bottle!
The wineries you can find are of various sizes and types. Some are well-known and very busy. Some have stopped accepting tours and are open only on special occasions or times of the year. Don’t stop at just those. There are many medium and small businesses, real hidden gems that will surprise you. And that will make you feel the warmth and genuineness of love for the work and the product.
Barbaresco has nothing to envy to the more noble Barolo. Indeed, the game between the two is delicious and addicting!
4 Piedmont Regional Wine Shops (a shortened list!).
If you are short on time and want to have many labels discovered, you can get great support from Regional Wine Shops. You’ll miss the relationship with the producer and the knowledge of the origins of the wine you’re tasting, but you’ll be able to range over several products at once.
Here are all of the Regional Wine Shops in Piedmont:
Enoteca Regionale Piemontese Cavour: Inside the Castle of Grinzane Cavour, Piedmont’s first regional wine shop. Wines and grappas from Piedmont’s best producers.
Enoteca Regionale del Barolo: vast array of Barolo to taste
Cantina Comunale di La Morra: A beautiful historic building with exposed brick, events, exhibitions, and tastings.
Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco: A deconsecrated church, not to be missed to learn about the close relative of the noble Barolo
Bottega dei Quattro Vini di Neive: Opportunity to taste Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato. Neive is the home of all these wines.
Moscato d’Asti and ASTI
Enoteca Regionale Colline del Moscato: Castello di Mango, wide selection of Asti and Moscato d’Asti. A very prestigious venue for events as well
Enoteca del Roero: in downtown Canale, great Roero wines, including a wide selection of Roero Docg and Roero Arneis.
Enoteca Regionale di Canelli e dell’Astigiano: Great reds from Monferrato but also great sparkling wines. Some rarities can be found, such as Loazzolo, Ruché, Grignolino, and Freisa.
Acqui and Ovada area
Enoteca Regionale di Acqui Terme: Wines of Acquese and Ovadese including Brachetto d’Acqui Docg, Gavi Docg and Dolcetto di Ovada.
4.1 I will add a few pointers to the Upper Piedmont Wine Shops, although they deserve a separate chapter!
- Canavese and Torinese
Enoteca Regionale di Caluso: Wide selection of the famous Erbaluce di Caluso, a great white wine from northern Piedmont
Cantina Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema Winery: Here, you can find the rare and prestigious Carema wine from Nebbiolo grapes grown on the mountain slopes.
Cantina del Borgo, inside Valentino Park: dedicated entirely to wines produced in the province of Turin.
- High Piedmont
Serra Regional Wine Shop: dedicated to the wines of Upper Piedmont, events, and tastings year-round.
5. Piedmont wine tour: Rules and etiquette to be observed in wineries
Some rules are good for the Piedmont wine tour, but you will need them at every winery!
- Keeps appointments made
After visiting the winery and sometimes the vineyards, we begin to taste the wine produced:
- Look at the color, and smell the wine as soon as it is served. Moving the wine inside the glass, and rotating it before tasting; is the best way to expand the wine’s aroma.
- Buy a bottle: It will seem strange to you because you may have already paid for the tasting. But it is good practice and a sign of appreciation. The Producer will be flattered.
- Payment: If you purchased the Tour from a Tour Operator, the problem does not arise; all the organization and expenses have been made beforehand. If you choose to arrange everything alone, remember that many producers do not have credit cards. So better to have the cash to pay. In the past, they did not pay. Even today, some wineries, fewer and fewer, do free tastings. I think you’ll understand that it had become a significant investment in time and product for them and significantly impacted their budgets. So paying for wine tastings is increasingly common and respects the work and costs incurred by the Producer.
Conclusions to the five tips
Choose any time of year to come to Piedmont. Each season has its charm and peculiarities. The only constant is the variety of wine production, which is richer and more accurate each year.
Besides, don’t limit yourself only to wine! Remember that you are in the land of truffles, and hazelnuts, with a critical cuisine and many trattorias, wine bars, and restaurants where you can taste food and wine of the highest quality.
If I have intrigued you, then take a look at our proposals: