Barbera is often considered an afterthought to Nebbiolo in the grand scheme of Piemonte’s wines, but the hierarchy is a bit different in the Monferrato. In this sunny region east of Alba, Barbera is king, and growers like Pietro Arditi of Cantine Valpane take the grape very seriously. His Perlydia is aged in concrete tanks for several years before bottling, so you know it is ready to drink upon release. While it can age for a few more years, its rich, juicy fruit and plump texture make it hard to resist today, especially when served with tomato-based pastas, pizza, or even a burger. Pietro and his family love to cook, and the wine truly shines with Piemontese specialties, which often consist of egg noodles covered with meaty ragù or aged cheeses like the local castelmagno. Valpane’s wines also represent tremendous values—you won’t find bargains like this in Barolo!
Pietro Giuseppe Arditi began working Cantine Valpane in 1900 under a sharecropping agreement with the Fojadelli family. After the passion for his work had earned the family’s confidence, he purchased Valpane in 1902. His eldest daughter, Lydia became fascinated by his craft and began working alongside him, eventually taking over the estate. Today Lydia’s nephew, also named Pietro, runs the estate. He bursts with pride in the distinguished history of Valpane, but never takes credit personally for his wonderful wines. “People tell me I’m a great winemaker,” he says, “but the wines of Valpane have been winning awards for well over a century, so it can’t be my doing. I’m just careful not to ruin what the land gives us!”
Kermit’s love affair with the great reds of Piemonte dates back to the early days of his career: the very first container he imported from Italy, in fact, featured legendary 1971 and 1974 Barolos from Vietti and Aldo Conterno. Regular visits since then have seen our portfolio grow to now nine Piemontesi estates, with a strong focus on the rolling hills of the Langhe.
Nebbiolo rules these majestic, vine-covered marl slopes, giving Italy’s most mystifyingly complex, nuanced, and age-worthy reds. When crafted via traditional production methods—long macerations and extensive aging in enormous oak botti—the powerful, yet incredibly refined Barolos and Barbarescos provide haunting aromatics of tar, raspberry, incense, tea, roses, and more. At times austere in their youth but well worth the wait, they pair beautifully with the hearty local cuisine starring veal in many forms, braised beef, pastas like tajarin and agnolotti, and of course, Alba’s famous white truffles.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Piemonte’s climate is continental, with baking hot summers and cold winters. Nebbiolo is only part of the story here: juicy, fruity Barberas and Dolcettos represent the bread and butter throughout the region, and other native grapes like Freisa, Croatina, and the white Arneis are also noteworthy. Value abounds in the Monferrato, while Alto Piemonte also has its share of thrills to provide.
Every corner of Piemonte is rich with tradition, especially when wine is concerned. It’s no wonder we have been singing the region’s praises for over forty years.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine. 2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration. 3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them. 4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would. 5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa