Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Back to the Alps in March: Italy's Piedmont

Last month, David McDuff of McDuff's Food and Wine Trail led 52 wine bloggers on a tasting tour of Piedmont. This month, GWU$20 picks up where Wine Blogging Wednesday left off as we turn our attention to this legendary Italian wine region. (photo by Giorgio Montersino)

Italy's Piedmont shares borders with France and Switzerland along the formidable natural boundary of the Alps. Tough growing conditions lead to small yields--even though this is Italy's largest (and one of its most productive) regions. The Piedmont's sparkling wine from Asti, for example, is second only to Champagne in terms of overall sparkling wine production.

If the Piedmont region conjures up only images of high-quality, high-priced, hearty reds like Barolo and Barbaresco, you will be pleased to know that they make affordable wines there, too. Many of them are made with native grapes like Arneis, Cortese, Erbaluce, Barbera, Grignolino, and Ruche. Nebbiolo is the region's most famous and prestigious grape, but even GWU$20 readers can sometimes find bottlings that fit their budget. I'll be dipping into these native grapes to find some good values and to expand my knowledge of Italy's hidden treasures. (picture by kuspoletto)

Of course there is great food to be had in the Piedmont, too, and much of it tends to be rich and hearty. Many of the region's dishes include rice, which is grown here. Risottos, fondutas (the Italian version of fondue), truffles, and cheese are some of the hallmark tastes of the Piedmont. I always have great plans to cook regional food to go along with my wine, but I don't always manage it. Still, I've got some recipes pulled out of Lynn Rossetto Kasper's inspiring cookbook, The Italian Country Table, that I am eager to try including a balsamic-roasted chicken with potatoes and a soothing chickpea soup. (photo by Cebete)

I picked up plenty of tips from last month's Wine Blogging Wednesday, but if you have anything to add--from wines to try to insights into what inspires you about wines from the Piedmont--please leave them in the comments below. I'll have my first review of a red wine from the region tomorrow.

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