Explore Piedmont’s Wine Roads
by Diana Zahuranec
Strada del Barolo and the Great Wines of the Langhe
The hills, forests, and mountains of Piedmont are scattered with charming towns, each one with its unique history, local wine, and delicious cuisine. For a traveler, choosing where to begin or what your next destination is can be challenging. This is especially true because many villages retain an authentic aura of their nearly untouched state, which is exactly what many travelers seek – but it takes the towns off the visiting tourists radar. Luckily, for the wine traveler, Piedmont’s Wine Roads (Strade del Vino) are here to help allowing you to go on your very own Piedmont wine tour.
Over the past dozen years, local non-profit groups, wine consortia, and the Region of Piedmont have created exactly the right tool needed to help travelers navigate the vineyards, towns, and wineries of Piedmont. Piedmont’s Wine Roads connect these places with trails and roads to hike, bike, or drive. Of the dozen or so Strade del Vino, one of the most well-known is the Strada del Barolo e Grandi Vini di Langa (Wine Road of Barolo and Great Wines of the Langhe).
The Barolo Wine Road connects 18 different towns:
Alba, Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Cherasco, Diano d’Alba, Dogliani, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monchiero, Monforte d’Alba, Montelupo Albese, Novello, Roddi, Roddino, Rodello, Serralunga d’Alba, Sinio, and Verduno.
If you follow it by foot, start in any one of these towns and find the sign (Strada del Barolo, Strada dei Grandi Vini di Langa); it should be clearly visible. If not, stop by the local Tourism Office and ask them to point the way. The trails pass through vineyards, wineries, and towns, presenting this UNESCO territory in its best light.
Keep an eye out for the wines produced in this famed viticultural region. The most famous are Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Barolo known as the “King of Wines”. But, don’t miss out on the lesser-known bottles, often of good quality, from native grapes and hard to find beyond Piedmont’s borders: Verduno Pelaverga, Langhe Favorita, the little-known Nascetta, and Arneis.
Still, 18 towns is a lot to choose from! Whichever you pick, leave your anxieties behind; every town will delight you with historical sites, beautiful architecture, fantastic dining options, excellent wines, and the hospitality of locals. You’re in Piedmont, after all.
Here are suggestions for destinations that stand out along one of Piedmont’s Wine Roads, the Strada del Barolo e Grandi Vini di Langa:
Walk up to the highest point of town to a grassy piazza and enjoy the great lookout. If you stop by the bar (cafè) beforehand, located immediately before the piazza, buy a bottle of Verduno Pelaverga. This red wine is known for its strawberry and floral notes and an unexpected hit of white pepper. The round table in the lookout piazza was installed especially for tasting and viewing purposes.
This Barolo-producing town has several excellent gourmet specialty shops and inviting eateries serving Piedmontese cuisine. It also has a great view in Piazza Castello to admire the vineyard-covered hills: we suggest in the early morning to capture the mist or alternatively at sunset – simply breathtaking!
This is the capital of the noble wine of the same name, and it cannot be missed. A lot is squeezed into this one tiny town, including a Corkscrew Museum and, next to it, the majestic Barolo Castle that houses the Regional Enoteca and Barolo’s Wine Museum – WiMu.
Bonus: the single vineyards of Barolo-producing areas are distinguished as menzioni, the Piedmontese term for “cru” – designating land that is unique terroir unto itself. Serious wine lovers will recognize the names of Ginestra, Cannubi, and Bussia, among others. Using the official maps, while walking along the Strada dei Vini in the Barolo zone it is possible to actually pinpoint which menzione your favorite wine comes from.
Find the pdf of the maps on Langhe Vini (“Le Menzioni Geographiche Aggiuntive”)
or the brand-new app is available on Apple and Android (called Barolo Official Map):
Like the Barolo zone, Diano has plots of vineyards representing unique terroir, only these are called sorì. Stop by Diano to taste wines in the Cantina Comunale, and enjoy choosing among 160 labels by 43 different producers.
This tall castle will catch your eye immediately. For an intriguing history lesson that ends in a 360° view over Barolo and Langhe territory, take the tour, available in English. If your guide is Massimiliano, you’re in for a treat! He knows his history and castle facts down pat and is a great storyteller.
Moving on to special culinary delights, try the snails of Cherasco, the white truffles in Alba, or Piedmontese specialties that can be found in any of these towns: fresh tajarin or agnolotti pasta, carne cruda (beef tartare), or a rich bunet (rich chocolate and amaretti pudding) for dessert …
….and that’s just the beginning!
Discover more about Piedmont’s wine roads and Piedmont wines here:
All photos by Diana Zahuranec
Diana Zahuranec writes and translates for www.winepassitaly.it