The Piedmont In the north of Italy, nestled beneath the great alpine wall of mountains and the gleaming Mediterranean Sea, lies the Piedmont. It is the region of Italy closest to France in proximity, as well as in the quality and variety of its exceptional wines. For centuries, the Piedmont has been renowned for its robust, exquisitely prepared cuisine, but today it is Piedmontese wines: robust reds, still elegant whites and naturally sweet muscats that command the most attention. Certainly, Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara are the most celebrated red wine names of the Piedmont; yet, it is the region’s hearty, mouth filling Barbera that captures the hearts and palates of the Piedmontese themselves. By combining traditional practices, such as long vatting times, with the use of modern equipment and small oak barrel aging, Barbera has claimed its rightful place among the great red wines of the Piedmont. Like the noble Nebbiolo vine of Barolo fame, Barbera is a native Piedmontese varietal and presently the region’s most popular red variety. And, in addition to its great Barbera and Nebbiolo, the Piedmont produces a host of other fine reds, including Dolcetto, Freisa, Grignalino and Brachetto. No other Italian viticultural region offers such a wide variety of fine, distinctively styled reds as the Piedmont. As if the coterie of great red wines produced in the Piedmont were not enough to insure its place atop Italy’s viticultural hierarchy, this oenological bastion shines with white wines, too. Not surprisingly, the Piedmont counts more DOC-DOCG zones (bonafide wine areas making many distinct types of wine) than any other region of Italy. Yet, the Piedmont often ranks seventh or eighth or even less in total production, underscoring the areas dedication to quality rather than quantity. Burton Anderson, acknowledged widely to be the world’s foremost authority on Italian wines, sums up the greatness of the Piedmont when he says: For craftsmanship, respect for tradition and devotion to native vines in their historical habitat, the Piedmontese have no rivals in Italy.