Wine: Famous vineyards of world heritage importance

In recent days the vineyards of Champagne and those of the Cote d’Or in Burgundy were both given United Nations World Heritage Status for the continuity and quality of their wines and ancient vineyards.

Wine: Famous vineyards of world heritage importance

They join some other vineyards which may be less well-known, including those of Georgia, the Douro in Portugal, Lavaux in Switzerland and the Langhe and Monferrato in Piedmont.

Most wine lovers will know their Tuscan Chianti and Brunellos better than they know our Barbaresco and Barolo, in much the same way that they will know their Bordeaux Chateaux better than their Burgundy Domaines.

However Piedmont is the great Italian wine region in my view, offering everything from the simple fruity fizz of Moscato-d’Asti (perfect with strawberries and cream) to the dry subtle wines of Gavi and the more mineral wines from the Arneis grape (try O’Briens Ascheri Arneis).

In red there is the ripe cherry fruit of Dolcetto d’Alba, the plummy sweet fruit of Barbera from Alba or Asti and of course the hugely structured and intensely fragrant wines made from Nebbiolo — the clichéd phrase “the steel fist in the velvet glove” makes perfect sense when you try a great Barolo or Barbaresco.

Archaeologists have found vine pollen in the area from the fifth century BCE when Piedmont was a meeting place for Etruscans and Celts and the Roman historian Pliny praises the wines.

Pio Cesare are one of the oldest and most reliable producers (founded in 1881) and the fifth generation is still producing benchmark wines in the region under the guidance of Pio Boffa, the great grandson of the founder.

Boffa visited Ireland recently and conducted some tutored tastings of his wines, including some barrel samples and rare wines from the estate.

The family owns around 50 ha of vineyards and vineyard management is key to the quality of their wines as you would expect.

As well as the traditional grapes and the wines mentioned below watch for the excellent L’Altro Chardonnay (€24.99) which has spice and vanilla flavours mixed with dry lean concentrated pear and lemon flavours.


Duca del Salento Salice Salentino, Puglia, Italy — €14.99

Stockists: McHughs, Vintry, Martins, Galvins and selected independents — particularly members of NOffLA

A blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia grapes this is probably my favourite Italian red under €15 imported by Tassera. Rich dark dried fruits and spice, soft and complex on the palate and a long finish. Winner of the 2014 NOffLA Red Wine of the Year.

Rizzardi Frizzante Prosecco, Italy — €14.99

Stockist: O’Briens

This is on special offer at two for €25 so it is well worth buying a couple. Too often frizzante (lightly sparkling and lower tax) Prosecco is rather sweet but this is a bone-dry version with some good bright pears and apples and a clean fresh finish.

Aldi Exquisite Collection Gavi DOCG — €8.49

Stockist: Aldi

Finding inexpensive Gavi of high quality is never easy, partly due to the huge domestic demand, particularly on the Ligurian coast.

This is significantly lighter than the Pio Cesare version but still has some nice bruised apple aromas with a hint of tropical fruit and good refreshing acidity.


Pio Caesare Gavi, Piedmont, Italy — €23.99

Stockists: No. 21 off-licences, Matsons, Next Door Off Licences, La Touche Wines 4U, Jus de Vine, Stacks Off Licence.

The grape in Gavi is Cortese and it needs coaxing and good vineyard management to have any character.

This is a good example - clean bright pear and apple aromas with touches of white pepper, smooth and ripe on the palate with a dried pear and apple finish.

Pio Caesare Barbera Fides, Piedmont, Italy — €36.99

Stockists: Matsons, No. 21 off-licences, Stacks, Deveneys Dundrum, The Corkscrew.

Produced exclusively from the “Colombaro” vineyard and arguably perhaps the best Barbera in the region. Ripe concentrated plum and dark fruits, complex and silky with touches of spice. Also watch for the excellent standard Barbera d’Alba (€25).

Pio Caesare Barolo, Piedmont, Italy — €63.99

Stockists: No. 21 off-licences, Matsons, Next Door Off Licences, La Touche Wines 4U, Jus de Vine, Stacks Off Licence.

The single vineyard Barolo Ornato and Barbaresco Il Brico are excellent but need some time. This has liquorice and red currant aromas mixed with some smoke and plums, structured and complex with lingering spice and characterful crunchy fruit flavours. Try with some roast or barbecued lamb.

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