Piemonte Italy`s Hidden Gem – Roero !

When one thinks of the wines of Piemonte, Italy, Barolo and Barbaresco are likely at the top of the list. But I would like to tell you about Roero, a hidden gem of a wine region in Piemonte. Like its neighbors, Roero produces Barbera d’Alba, Birbèt, Bonarda, Favorita, and Moscato d’Asti, but the reigning stars of Roero are Nebbiolo and Arneis.

Wines with their own distinctiveness and elegance, Roero is a region to discover!

The name Roero comes from a noble family who were thirteenth century merchants and bankers in the Asti area and today, in the twenty-first century, there are twenty Roero family lines.

Made up of 19 municipalities, Roero is a hilly region located north of Alba in the northeast corner of the province of Cuneo. There are 147 producers and 86 growers in Roero. And, in 2014, Roero was named a UNESCO heritage cultural site.

The reigning stars of Roero, Nebbiolo and Arneis, are the two DOCG wines in the region. DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin). DOCG, like DOC wines, are wines of designation of quality but DOCG is an extra guarantee by the Italian government that the wines are of especially high quality.

In the Roero region, red Roero is made with a minimum of 95 percent Nebbiolo, and white Roero is made from a minimum of 95 percent Arneis.

NEBBIOLO is Italy’s most revered grape and one of the oldest varieties in Piemonte. Nebbiolo is the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as across Piemonte. In Roero, Nebbiolo plantings date back to the beginning of the 14th century. Roero, a semi-arid zone, is a desirable site for growing Nebbiolo on the hillsides because of the predominantly sandstone, marine-origin sedimentary rocks, limestone, clay, and sandy soils. Nebbiolo is a wine that is medium bodied, high in tannins, with bright acidity. It pairs beautifully with meat dishes, such as veal, pork, beef, and wild game. It is also can be enjoyed with fresh pasta with meat sauce, fondue with truffle, and ripened cheeses.

ARNEIS, once called “Nebbiolo biano”, also was first planted at the end of the 1400s in Piemonte and the first written evidence was found in the beginning of 1500. In Piemontese dialect, Arneis means “terrible child,” and perhaps that is because it is a challenging grape to vinify. It is a grape with good acidity and minerality, but the acidity is low and can easily be killed off. Arneis was a traditional Piemontese grape variety that produced big, sweet berries that were planted next to Nebbiolo to attract birds. But after phylloxera hit, it declined in use and was almost extinct. By the 1960s when there were only 10 acres accounted for. Fortunately, some producers saw the potential of the grape and began replanting it in the 1970s. Arneis, which is not related to any other grape variety, is mainly grown in the Roero region and produces a wine that is a pure expression of the land. Arneis pairs with fresh goat cheese, fresh mushroom salad, seafood pasta, sea bass, and vitello tonnato, a classic regional dish of veal with tuna sauce.

 

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