Tasting with Silvio Giamello is a meditative experience. Upon greeting you at his door in Barbaresco, Silvio quietly leads you to the small, dark cellar under his house where several large oak botti hold the entirety of his minuscule production. With no distractions in the cool obscurity of the cantina, your senses are entirely devoted to the Nebbiolo Silvio guides into your empty glass. As the wine’s subtle aromas waft toward your nose, they bring to mind the small vineyard on the hillside beside the house that is home to the majority of the family’s holdings. With only two hectares of vines to his name, Silvio epitomizes the family-run, traditionalist grower, going about his work in the vineyards and cellar the way he learned from his father. As the Langhe Nebbiolo is a selection from Vicenziana, the same parcel that produces the estate’s Barbaresco, the wines share a beauteous finesse on the palate. Giamello’s 2020 Langhe Nebbiolo is fresh and vibrant, evoking cherries, roses, and a touch of tar. Nebbiolo’s natural acidity makes this wine incredibly versatile at table, pairing well with roasted squash, sautéed mushrooms, roast fowl, polenta, and pizza, among many other dishes. While Silvio may be too humble to say so himself, there’s no question that he crafts wines of purity and structure with authentic Piemontese aromas—the real deal, not to be missed.
Like most families in the Langhe, the Giamellos started out with a polyculture estate that included various small parcels. The bulk of the grape harvest was sold off, but the family made enough wine for their own consumption. This system continued until the 1950s, when farm life became less profitable and many left to find work in the cities. When the economy improved in the '70s, Luigi Giamello was able to return to the domaine, focusing more on wine production and eventually passing the reins to his son and daughter-in-law, Silvio and Marina Camia. This fourth generation continues to make wine the only way they can imagine: all vineyard work is natural and chemical-free, and the vinification techniques are purely traditional.
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 twelve 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.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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