There is one word on everyone’s lips in Piedmont: wine. The growing of it, the making of it, and the drinking of it has been the pride of Piedmont, the lush and beautiful region of north-west Italy, for millennia, producing some of the finest wine in the world.
Headwater walking and cycling holidays wind through the heart of Piedmont’s UNESCO wine area the Langhe, taking in the stunning vistas of the rolling vineyards and hopping between elegant hilltop villages. But in this land of viticulture, where are the best places to sample the famous wine?
Here’s our recommendations for the best wine-tasting towns in Piedmont, all of which are visited on our active holiday itineraries:
The most famous winemaking town in Piedmont, this picturesque medieval settlement sits in the middle of the Barolo valley like a castle presiding over its kingdom.
Surrounded by layer after layer of rolling vines, Barolo’s sun-drenched central square is brimming full with every type of enoteca (wine tasting shop) and wine bar, along with a wine museum, and vineyards within walking distance (it’s best to phone ahead).
This valley is also where they hunt for the elusive white truffle, a delicious delicacy found in Piemontese dishes.
Try: strong, fruity Barolo
Looking for something a bit more intimate than Barolo? Barbaresco is a beautiful and quieter alternative that still has plenty to occupy wine lovers.
Wander up and down the main street for your choice of wine tasting options including Barbaresco’s old church, which has now been turned into the regional enoteca wine shop (yes, really).
Catching the lift to the top of Barbaresco’s 36m medieval tower to breathe in panoramic views over Piedmont’s braided vineyard hills for miles around.
Try: fruity, floral & refined Barbaresco
As part of the collection of the Borghi piu belli d’Italia, Neive is officially one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, but it’s also a cultural centre of food and drink in Piedmont. So as well as a historic walled centre with 13th century clock tower, it has a range of elegant restaurants serving the finest Piemontese cooking, and there’s a couple of lovely wine shops to choose from too. Plenty of opportunity then to sit outside, sip on local wine paired with local meats, admiring the vineyard views. Italian summer bliss.
Try: crisp and citrusy Arneis
A Piedmont hilltop town of casual chicness, Monforte d’Alba has it all: along with beautiful Italian streets and houses, it has a prized viticulture and is home to the vibrant annual Monforte summer jazz festival.
Local wineries and vineyards are just a short journey away (we advise phoning ahead), where you can while away an afternoon touring the vines, and sampling wine accompanied with local cheeses, breads and hazelnuts.
Try: warm ruby Barbera d’Alba
Alba is the largest town in the Langhe and the capital of the Piedmont winemaking area. Most wines produced in Piedmont can be sampled and bought in Alba, and it’s quite the epicentre of the food and drink industry. Along with countless wineries, Alba is renowned for its hazelnut groves and as the home of Ferrero Rocher, which infuses the streets with the delicious scent of roasting hazelnuts. The addition of the weekly Saturday market and the world-famous International Alba White Truffle Fair in autumn lend Alba true culinary glamour.
Try: Local delicate Nebbiolo d’Alba
Visit Alba: on our Gastronomic Barolo Cycling and Cycling the Wine Villages of Piedmont holidays. It is also only a short taxi ride away and can be reached on a day off on our walking holidays Gastronomic Barolo Walk and Walking the Wine Villages of Piedmont.