The Never-Ending Pleasures of Piemonte
by Tom Wolf
Even though I love wines from all corners of Italy, presenting the wines below feels like laying down a royal flush on behalf of Piemonte. Not only is the region blessed with incredible breadth—these whites and reds can serve pretty much any occasion—but also its loftiest wines, like the Fantino brothers’ and Guido Porro’s Baroli, reach the same staggering heights as the best of Burgundy, the Rhône, Provence, or any other great wine region.
Here is the white wine to open the next time you host aperitivo hour or bake a white fish and roast potatoes. Floral and zesty, it has enough acidity to pair wonderfully with food but is round and charming enough to enjoy on its own!
For years, the Great Piemontese Bianco has been our white whale—the majority of the region’s most profound wines are red—but finally, we’ve found it. Hailing from the northern edge of Piedmont, at the foot of the Alps, and made with the Erbaluce grape, this gorgeous bottle courses with energy and bursts open with notes of citrus, pear, white flowers, and a faintly saline finish. Despite the weather, it makes me want to go outside and fire up some fish or shrimp on the grill.
Depending on where it’s grown and how it’s raised, Dolcetto can range from bright and tangy to dark and structured. From one of the grape variety’s great terroirs, this vintage of Sörì Santa Lucia combines the best of both ends of the spectrum. It’s joyous enough for pizza night but also has enough complexity and depth to stand up to your favorite winter stew.
That Silvio Giamello’s exquisite Barbaresco costs the same now as what Eric Asimov and his New York Times “Wine School” panel paid for it in 2010 speaks to the incredible value you can still find in Piedmont. They named that wine—the 2005 vintage—their favorite Barbaresco of the bunch, judging that “its structure was evident, yet so was its delicacy.” The same is true in 2020. This bottling is a master class in how to produce Nebbiolo that is simultaneously lithe and full of character.
Like Giamello in Barbaresco, the Fantino brothers epitomize Nebbiolo traditionalism, and their sixty-year-old, south-facing vines in the historic cru of Bussia give them the perfect raw material to realize their vision of what Barolo can be. Deep, rich, and soulful, this Riserva teems with notes of roses, cherry, spice, and leather and is begging to be paired with a ribeye.
Don’t finish that ribeye without first pouring yourself a glass of this enchanting Barolo from one of the region’s most hallowed vineyards, Vigna Rionda. Already elegant, this Barolo shows astonishing poise and a different mesmerizing feature of its kaleidoscopic personality every time you take a sip. It is majestic now and will become more transcendent over time.