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Piedmont whites: panel tasting results

See the top 10 Piedmont whites from our panel tasting, judged by our Decanter's experts, along with tasting notes and drinking windows.

The lack of any Outstanding wines was probably down to the difficult 2014 vintage, but don’t let that put you off buying these characterful, food-friendly whites, said our panel.

‘This was a fascinating tasting, covering some really interesting grape varieties,’ said a contented Michael Garner. ‘It’s a shame that most were from the difficult 2014 vintage. In the circumstances we had many very good examples of each grape variety, even if there was no absolute standout wine.’ Wine lovers looking for something beyond the usual international grape varieties should make a beeline for these wines, said Andrea Briccarello. ‘I really appreciate the fact that these are varietal wines, and not blended with Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.’

These 10 Highly Recommended wines encompass many of the varieties featured, of which Arneis and Gavi will be most familiar to consumers. ‘Arneis is hard not to like, with its soft acidity, glycerol mouthfeel and effusively peachy fruit flavours,’ said D’Agata. ‘The style can vary though, depending on where it’s grown, from floral and fruity to minty and mineral.’ Garner praised the way that Arneis combines richness and freshness and said it is unfairly maligned: ‘It has got a bad rap, because it can be so effusively fruity that no one takes it seriously, and when it’s bad, it’s bad. But it’s the most interesting white grape in Piedmont.’ It’s also very versatile when food matching, observed Briccarello: ‘Arneis has an extra gear over Cortese (Gavi),’ he said. ‘Cortese is an easy match with seafood, whereas Arneis can take stronger flavours.’

Briccarello and the other tasters were also taken with Timorasso. ‘It’s the hottest variety in Piedmont right now, and can be almost dry Riesling-like, with diesel and herbal notes,’ commented D’Agata. ‘It’s a nightmare to grow as grapes within the same bunch ripen at different times, and so many producers gave up on it 40 or 50 years ago. But now it’s having a quality revival.’

Lastly, don’t overlook Erbaluce, he urged. ‘It’s a delicate wine which can be nondescript at high yields. But from the good producers in Caluso it’s a wine of sneaky concentration and good flavour definition – dainty white flowers, stone fruit, a hint of mint.’ ‘Sadly, it’s a rarity, but it has great potential,’ echoed Garner. ‘Make the effort to seek it out.’

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