To know Alto Piemonte is to understand a land like no other. It’s an exhaustive scholastic pursuit yielding an obsessive Nebbiolo-fuelled mania that only this region can redress. Stretching from the Alps to Lago Maggiore, this is a territory that encompasses some of the most panoramic and dramatically beautiful landscapes in Italy. Each zone is vastly unique and vividly diverse when it comes to terroir, topography, biodiversity, varietal typicity, and producer style. Even if you’ve been to other vineyards of legend or lore, these ampelographic gardens and viticultural snuggeries guarantee to out-turn a paradigmatic change of awareness on what defines a vineyard; whatever faith, religion, persuasion or creed in which you genuflect, you will find your maker amongst the lands and vines of the north.
The best way to approach Alto Piemonte is to not fall into the trap of a like for like comparative analysis to any other of the other gems in the Piemontese oenological portfolio; simply engage and appreciate the nuance and complexities of what each wine presents. Styles and profiles range from zone to zone, as the region is mostly split between the two northern provinces of Vercelli and Novara, with the Sesia River dividing the two from east to west. The westerly precincts of Bramatera, Lessona, and Gattinara fall under the Coste della Sesia designation, while east of the river you find Boca, Fara, Gheme, and Sizzano, which are in the Colline Novaresi camp. Further west, in the Province of Turin, you’ll find Carema, which is home to one of the smallest pockets of vineyards in the north, and lastly, at the most extreme depths of the zone, nearly at the border of Switzerland, is Valli Ossolane. Both outposts are home to the harshest and most dangerous terrain to work, as vineyards here are planted on terraces of dizzying altitudes and perilously precipitous slopes. The vines are literally planted on the base of the mountains, fusing the challenging and complex science of viticulture with the calisthenics of (agricultural) hiking.
The collective northern territories are largely unaffected from the large-scale commercialisation or the ‘Napa-fication’ blighting other vinous hot-spots, and thus many producers and their wines manage to keep a low profile. Alto Piemonte has held on to the charm and appeal of the small artisanal producer, living up the expectation that our imaginations conjure about the symbiotic relationship between farmer and vineyard, man and nature. It is almost unbelievable that in our competitive climate of sourcing and consumers endless search for the best of the best, Alto Piemonte represents such little real-estate in our cellars or wine lists. It’s a misfortune on scale with that of a Greek tragedy, since this region continues to prove that its DOC(G)s is an unrelenting wine producing machine. The sheer level of talent, skillsets and quality emerging here is overwhelming, and these unsung heroes of the north continue to create wines at the most insane cost to value ratios of any other viticultural zone, period. Each bottle is its own new adventure and the producers here are destined to be the wine-world’s future Dionysian legends, and we managed to bring them all to you.