Langhe is an all-encompassing region situated south-west of the town of Alba in the province of Cuneo in Piedmont, northern Italy. You will also find both Barolo and Barbaresco wine areas resting within its boundaries.
Langhe also gives its name to a regional DOC wine, which is used to classify wines made outside of the traditional Piemontese varietal system - which includes: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Cortese to name a few. Langhe Nebbiolo DOC is effectively the ‘second wine’ to Piedmont’s great Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Langhe Nebbiolo DOC is the only way Langhe winemakers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style. Released as a fresh, fruit driven wine made in tank or later been aged in oak.
The Langhe Nebbiolo DOC was created in 1994 along with a number of other Langhe DOC wines - resulting in a dilution of the wine’s significance. This Langhe DOC labelling designation is a way of allowing producers to be more experimental with their chosen varietals, blends, production styles and aging techniques.
Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be made with 15% other indigenous red varietals, such as Barbera or Dolcetto. Leading producers of Barolo & Barbaresco tend to use 100% Nebbiolo; blending the fruit from varying vine ages and site aspects.
Langhe, which is the plural from the Italian word for ‘hills’ (langa). The history of winemaking in this region is extensive, dating back centuries. It is rich in its variety of indigenous and international grapes. A few the white varietals grown are; Arneis, Nascetta, Favorita, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The reds varietals include: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Freisa, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to name a few. A few exciting sparkling wines are produced, some in the style of Metodo Classico, similar to the Champagne method.
Langhe is a small ancient province where traditions have been kept alive. The birthplace of the ‘Slow Food Movement’, as well as the famous truffle - this region within a region covers a fairly large area of rolling vineyard country around the town of Alba.
Famous for its wines, cheeses and truffles - particularly the white truffle of Alba. It has been said that in Langhe - ‘Everything revolves around wine’. In Langhe, wine isn’t just one of life’s pleasures, a drink among many - it is the society’s very foundation, the region’s history poured out of a bottle - the people’s beliefs and values. On the 22nd of June 2014, Langhe was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage list.
Since the 1970’s intensification of viticulture in the area, this has meant a change in the landscape, with woods and hazel groves gradually disappearing from the hills to make way for vines. Compared to the past, the physical strain of working the steep-sided hills of Langhe has been reduced, but not entirely removed, by modern farming methods. Much work, including pruning and harvesting, still has to be done by hand due to the slopes gradients, although this is also a hallmark of the grower’s skill and a factor assisting in quality.
In the Langhe wine region, nearly 90% of vineyards are contained within the official DOC and DOCG denominations - a percentage which is reverse that of most other Italian wine areas, where 60% of viticulture is of generic varietals. In 2008, of Italy’s 325 DOC wines, 44 (13.5%) were from Piedmont, with 12 out of 41 - (nearly 30%) of DOCG wines are Piedmontese. The importance of viticulture in Langhe is also indicated by the number of people employed: 12,000 of whom 4,500 are grape growers and 1,200 wine producers.
The Langhe wine area, known as the ‘triangle of quality’ comprises a unique combination of climate, soils and indigenous varietals producing a rich variety of wines, and the passion of local wine producers who have dedicated their lives to developing the fruits of their land.
The Langhe region can produce grand, powerful reds for lengthy ageing, alongside others that are consumed early and can be enjoyed during any meal. Aromatic whites also have their place and are appreciated the world over. All of these wines, when compared at an international level, are full of personality, subtlety and in addition, offer excellent value.