You are using an old browser that may not function as expected.
For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.

Log in Become a Member

Alto Piemonte" is still largely unknown outside Italy. This is certainly also due to the long shadows cast by Barolo and Barbaresco, the legendary appellations in the south. In addition, many wine regions in the north are so tiny that their products hardly make it across the borders due to lack of mass.

But it is worth looking out for these wines. If you are looking for authentic wines with a strong character far from the mainstream, northern Piedmont must feel like paradise. For the most part, the wines of the north are somewhat lighter in comparison to their famous neighbours, but without sacrificing complexity and depth. The qualities are often excellent, sometimes great - and usually at reasonable prices. Nebbiolo is also the main variety here - under different names - but it is much less often vinified as a single varietal than in the south. Uva Rara, Vespolina or Croatina are frequent blending partners, even if usually only in small proportions.

Below you will find a short portrait of the individual sub-zones as well as links to all the wines currently tasted (unfortunately, no wines from Carema and the Valli Ossolane were presented to us this year):

Boca DOC

The northern Piedmont appellation around the small village of Boca, not far from Lake Maggiore, covers just 15 hectares. Therefore, it is not easy to find its Nebbiolo-based wines anywhere. If you find one, you should try it, because the few producers go all out.

Bramaterra DOC

Bramaterra is also a very small appellation in northwestern Piedmont. The region, which covers just 30 hectares, has had its DOC status since 1979. Nebbiolo plays the main role, but is generally complemented by Croatina and a little Bonarda or Vespolina. The best examples develop over ten years and more.


The DOC region, which has existed since 1967, is situated around the village of the same name in the far north of Piedmont, directly on the border with the Aosta Valley. The wines are mainly made from Nebbiolo (which is usually called Chiavennasca or Spanna in northern Piedmont) and possibly small amounts of other varieties. Not least because of the altitude - the vineyards reach up to 700 metres - they are leaner than their counterparts from more southern climes, but can turn out complex and expressive.

Colline Novaresi DOC

This DOC was only created in 1994 for wines from northern Piedmont that do not belong to any of the small regional appellations in the province of Novara, i.e. Boca, Fara, Ghemme or Sizzano. In addition to Nebbiolo, Croatina, Bonarda and Vespolina as well as the white Erbaluce, which is widespread in this region, are also permitted for single-vineyard vinification.

Coste della Seisa DOC

A rather little known Piedmont DOC region, classified only in 1996, in which Nebbiolo plays an important role, although not the only one. Vespolina, Croatina, Bonarda and the white Erbaluce are also at home here. The Nebbiolo here are usually much leaner than in more southern regions, but at their best they can be firm, complex and very animating.

Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG

Area with 180 hectares of vineyards in the Canavese region not far from the border to the Aosta Valley, planted exclusively with the regional Erbaluce variety. The DOCG applies to white still wine, sparkling wine and noble sweet passito.#

Gattinara DOCG

The wine of the village of Gattinara was famed far beyond the borders of Italy centuries ago. Today, the area, which has been classified as DOCG since 1990 (it already received DOC status in 1967!), has around 100 hectares of vineyards. The red wines, made from at least 90 percent Nebbiolo, are at their best firm, tart and complex, but like those from the other small growing regions of northern Piedmont, usually somewhat lighter than Barbaresco or even Barolo.

Ghemme DOCG

Ghemme lies in the immediate vicinity of Gattinara on the opposite side of the Sesia River to the east, which flows into the Po a little further south. The winegrowing history of this small area is also ancient, and Ghemme and Gattinara also have a lot in common. However, the proportion of Nebbiolo may be somewhat lower here. Up to 25 percent Vespolina and/or Uva Rara are permitted. Ghemme often seems a little juicier and more open-hearted than the rather austere Gattinara, but matures similarly well.

Lessona DOC

18-hectare region around the small village of the same name in the very north of Piedmont. The tart, tightly knit wines are made from at least 85% Nebbiolo and varying amounts of Vespolina and/or Uva Rara and can turn out excellent.

Roero DOCG and Roero Arneis DOCG

The red wines from this 700-hectare region, made mainly from Nebbiolo, are rarely as powerful as the Barolo from the neighbouring vineyards south of the Tanaro. On the other hand, they are usually ready to drink earlier, even if the best of them are good for several years of ageing. The typical characteristics of the Nebbiolo, its pithy fruit, the taut tannin, the acid bite, the aromas of wilted blossoms and undergrowth, are also found in the Roero, only it is often a little more accessible and open-hearted than its powerful neighbour. Modernists and new wood are rarely found here, most of the wines are kept in a rather traditional style. The white Roero must be pressed from 100% Arneis and can also turn out very convincing; it is also available as a spumante.

Sizzano DOC

The DOC has 40 hectares of vineyards in the municipality of the same name between Ghemme and Fara. The often awarded wines consist of at least 50 and up to 70 porocent Nebbiolo as well as Uva Rara and/or Vespolina and up to 10% of other authorised varieties.

Valli Ossolane DOC

The Valli Ossolane are located in the northernmost tip of Piedmont, west of Lake Maggiore on the Swiss border in the valley of the Fiume Toce. This spectacularly scenic region has only had DOC status since 2009. The Nebbiolo here is called "Prünent" and, due to the alpine climate, is usually taut and racy, even with a higher alcohol content. It is still rare to find these wines, but it can be worth looking for them.

PhotoConsorzio Tutela Nebbioli Alto Piemonte

Related Magazine Articles

View All