The small DOCG of Gattinara is located 100 miles north of the Barolo zone in the Alpine foothills close to Lago Maggiore. The soils of this region are more acidic than those of the Langhe, which, paired with the cooler climate and altitude, results in highly fragrant, elegant wines.
Few estates remain in this historic northerly zone, but tenacious Antoniolo, established in 1949, is surely the most dynamic; Antoniolo was the first producer in the DOCG to bottle cru wines, and is one of the only to bottle 100% Nebbiolo without blending in other varietals. Proprietress Rosanna Antoniolo owns over 14 hectares of vineyards in five plots, and son, Alberto and daughter, Lorella, third generation Antoniolos now supervise every stage of winemaking. The Osso San Grato, San Francesco and Castelle vineyards yield selections and the standard Gattinara while Nebbiolo Juvenia and the Bricco Lorella rose come from the Borelle and Valferana vineyards. The “Osso” yields an imposing wine with structure and longevity, while “San Francesco” is the most delicate of the trio. Partly barrique-aged “Castelle” is a forward wine with ripe, pleasing fruit and rose petal aromas. Aging requirements are the same as those for the Barolo DOCG (three years, at least two in wood.)
Attracting the most glory, prestige and fame to the Piedmont region, Nebbiolo in all of its expressions—Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Ghemme and Gattinara—creates a complex wine, truly unique for its delicate qualities combined with strength and a great potential to improve over time.
But Nebbiolo isn’t all there is to red wine from Piedmont! Barbera is the most planted variety and historically most popular as a dependable, food-friendly, everyday wine.
Beyond these two, a surprising number of red varieties call Piedmont their home. Worth a try include Dolcetto for its bold concentration and aromas of spice cake. Other grapes to investigate include Freisa, Croatina, Brachetto, Grignolino and Pelaverga.