this is one of the noble grapes of the world. It is grown, successfully, only in northern Italy. It is highly tannic, requiring much aging, and it is generally fairly high in alcohol content. But it is the fantastic flavors and aromas of the nebbiola grape that are the basis of its renown.
Barolo: the king of Italian wines. Not much barola is produced; it requires extensive aging; and it can be very expensive.
barbaresco: similar to Barolo, but perhaps a little more flowery, known as the queen of Italian wines.
ghemme: nebbiola grown in the far northern reaches of Piedmont, where it struggles to get ripe. Slightly more delicate and acidic than the Barolo. The wine has more blends in it than Barolo.
gattinara: similar to, and grown in a region only a few miles from, ghemme.
spanna: a name given to the nebbiola grape in the northern regions of Piedmont, home of ghemme and gattinara. Sometimes one finds bottles labeled simply as Spanna.
valtellina: the nebbiola grape grown in the northern part of Lombardy, along the Swiss border. Much leaner than the Barolos. Frequently valtellina producers let the grapes dry somewhat and then produce sforzato, similar to amarone.
other reds . . .
barbera: this grape, which is the largest produced in Piedmont, yields a wonderful, ruby-colored less tannic wine. Wonderful drinking wine earlier than the nebbiolas. There are three main districts: Barbera d'Alba, Barbera d'Asti, and Barbera el Monferrato.
dolcetto: "the little sweet one," is a very deep-colored wine, with low acids and some tannins. Much fruitier than the other Piedmonts. Much dolcetto is produced with widely varying results and approaches.
grignolino: a very light red; not much produced, so it is hard to find outside the region. Light in color, high in acidity, sometimes a little spritzy.
other than reds:
gavi: a white wine from the cortese grape that is surely Piedmont's best white.
asti spumante: the region's main wine product, sold throughout the world. A sparkling wine, light, fairly sweet, low in alcohol, from the moscato grape.
grappa: some of the best grappa is produced in Piedmont. This intense spirit, called a digestivo, with its very distinctive character and impact, is loved and hated, and we love it. It is made by distilling the skins and pulp left over after winemaking. That from the Barolo and Barbaresco grapes is fabulous.