Piedmont (Piemonte) Italy Region
Piemonte is situated in the in the North West corner of the Italian peninsula and contains the provinces of Alessandria, Asti, Cuneo, Novara, Vercelli, and Turin which is the regions capital. The area forms part of an industrial triangle created by Milan, Turin and Genoa.
Piemonte or Piedmont as the English refer to it has long been regarded as Italy’s little secret where Italians for many years and to this current day use the area as a holiday destination. The Winter Olympics held here in 2006 have been a great advertisement for Piemonte and has served to introduce the area to the world.
The region is world famous for its wine production where the Langhe hills are home to the great Barolo wines and nearby Asti produces its Spumante. Food lovers around the world visit the area to sample its truffles and visit Bra the capital of the Slow Food movement.
Piemonte boasts some of Europe’s most breath taking landscapes which take the form of vines and rolling hills therefore making it ideal for those who enjoy sporting activity such as trekking, horse riding and cycling.
Piemonte is very accessible particularly for the Germans and Swiss and with the advent of cheap flights from London and Luton, flying to Genoa and Turin, the British are now able to participate in the delights of the area. The climate is mild therefore making it an ideal holiday location particularly during the summer months.
For more information on the region http://www.winecountry.it/regions/piedmont/index.html
High in the northeast corner of France sits Alsace. Sheltered by the Vosges mountains to the west and hard against the German border to the east, lie some of France's best vineyards and best wine-makers. The wines of Alsace are relatively unknown and misunderstood by many people, even wine lovers. On most supermarket shelves you will be lucky to find one or two examples of those tall, Germanic, "flute" bottles with unfamiliar names: Tokay-Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, Gewrztraminer.
The shape of the bottles gives a clue to the turbulent past of the region, which has indeed been part of Germany in its past, being returned to French ownership only at the end of the Great War. Like Germany, only the white wines of Alsace are of real world class and similar grape varieties are grown.
Alsace wines are made in a French style however, and tend to be drier, more full-bodied and higher in alcohol than their German counterparts - being vinified so that more of the sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation.
Alsace is a beautiful area full of small, historic, half-timbered towns and dramatic scenery. There are many small growers producing honest and reliable wines all along the Alsace wine route and most of this is sold under the label of a co-operative. Good though these wines are, I have usually found it worth spending a little more to obtain bottles from a quality individual producers such as Trimbach, Weinbach, Zind-Humbrecht, Kreydenweiss, Schoffit, Meyer-Fonne or Kuentz-Bas.
Today the emphasis is strongly on Sangiovese and many of the best Tuscan wines use little or no other grape varieties to produce wines. Some of the top wines of the region are Montalcino's Brunello, Chianti's Sangioveto and Montepulciano's Prugnolo Gentile.