Tom Hyland is a Chicago-based wine writer/educator and photographer, specializing in Italian wines. He has authored two books on Italian wines, and conducts seminars for the trade on various Italian wines.
He has authored two books on Italian wines, and has conducted seminars for the trade on various Italian wines in Chicago, New York and in Bordeaux at VinExpo.
Apart from the Côte d’Or in Burgundy, perhaps no other wine territory has been dissected in greater detail than the Barolo zone. This makes perfect sense, as these are arguably the two most ideal representations of the concept of terroir; just as Pinot Noir from one village in Burgundy reveals different flavors than that of another nearby hamlet, so too offerings of Barolo from various communes often display diverse characteristics, despite the fact that every wine here is made exclusively from Nebbiolo.
There are 11 approved communes in the Barolo production zone. For this article, we will deal primarily with the five largest: La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and Barolo itself. The remaining six are Cherasco, Diano d’Alba (interestingly, planted more to Dolcetto than Nebbiolo), Grinzane Cavour, Roddi, Verduno and Novello; these last two are home to two of the most in-demand vineyards in the entire zone: Monvigliero in Verduno and Ravera in Novello.
The best-known wines of Piemonte, such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero Arneis and Moscato d’Asti are produced from grapes grown in the southern sector of the region; this includes the province of Cuneo and Asti, in districts such as the Langhe and Roero. But farther north, Alto Piemonte is a territory that is home to some of the region’s most complex, yet least understood wines. Gattinara, Boca and Ghemme are a few of these selections, and these days, greater attention is being paid to these wines and this relatively unknown viticultural outpost.
The wines of Valpolicella dance across the tongue with the same lift and loveliness as the name itself. Ideal with humble pastas as well as lighter red meats and game birds, it is well-suited to the table. As the more modest bottling of the Valpolicella region, it is largely (and unfairly) overlooked among Italian reds these days.
Valpolicella is the so-called “everyday” red wine of the eponymous production zone that is situated just north of the city of Verona, and extends west and east of the city. Other reds here include the iconic Amarone della Valpolicella as well as Ripasso, a wine made via a method of refermentation and remaceration, in which a Valpolicella is “repassed” over the skins of grapes used for Amarone.
I returned to Campania recently for the first time in three years and as with most Italian regions, discovered that not much had changed, at least as far as appearances are concerned. I did meet a few producers I hadn’t visited before, with one of them – Petilia – being a great new discovery for me. More on that below, but overall what impressed me most was the consistency of the wines, white and red.