Wines that do not belong to the prestigious DOCGs of Barolo and Co. belong to the Langhe DOC. This appellation produces a range of exciting and unusual wines, including red and white varieties; spumantes and even passitos. Lax laws with regards to grape type, the characteristics of the production zone, and vinification method have created a culture of creativity in the Langhe DOC, with many vintners experimenting in the creation of fresh, contemporary wines.
Langhe Biancos reflect this innovative spirit. These white wines comprise of different blends of grape type, which include marriages of both Italian and international selections. The diverse microclimates of the area – which includes most of Cuneo province and the land surrounding the municipality of Alba – give rise to exciting differentiations in quality. Popular Langhe Biancos are made up of the Italian grapes like Arneis, Nascetta and Favorita. International types include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Rhine Riesling.
Naturally, this kind of experimentation comes with its share of dispute. Traditionalists are inclined to dismiss the wines as Frankensteinian travesties. Other people feel that to ignore a Langhe Bianco based on its hybridity is to miss out on a range of potential gems. Indeed, a few unique and special wines have arisen from the DOC’s inventive approach to viticulture. They have proven to be delicious, more economical alternatives to Roeros and Gavis.
One such example is the Tamardi Langhe Bianco, which derives its name from an old Piedmontese expression of surprise. It is a bright, straw-coloured white, made from blends of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes undergo separate vinification processes, and are stored in barriques for nigh on six months, with a further ten months in the bottle. Aromas of fresh apple prevail, and combine with notable hints of new peach. It is delicious with grilled fish or shellfish, and also works well with a lush butter and sage pasta sauce.
Another one is the Arbarei Langhe Bianco, from the Cerretto Monsardo Bernardina vineyards. This is a 100% Rhine Riesling white that is freshly acidic and fruity. The Rhine Riesling grape is particularly adaptable to the climate of the region, which is noted for sharp contrasts in temperature between morning and night.
The Podere Ruggeri Corsini Langhe Bianco, cultivated near Monforte d’Alba, is a scintillating blend of Arneis, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are fermented for six months in stainless steel to preserve their natural fruity flavours. The wine is medium-bodied, with striking aromas of wildflowers, melon and pear. On the palate, it is textured and citrusy, with a finish that is refreshing. High levels of acidity demand to be paired with food. It is popular with antipasti, seafood and white meats.
The hamlet of Monforte d’Alba near Podere Corsini Langhe Bianco commune is an ancient settlement with a unique architectural heritage. Stroll through its narrow cobbled streets and admire the austere walls that have fortified the town for centuries. The smell of truffles – one of the gems in the Piedmontese culinary crown – is ubiquitous. Go to the famous Trattoria Della Posta and sample a glass of Langhe’s best with a delectable carne cruda battuto al coltello con Parmagiane e tartufo – veal carpaccio with Parmagiano Reggiano and truffles.