The Langhe, the traditional grape varieties - ArnaldoRivera
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The Langhe, the traditional grape varieties


The Langhe region (deriving from the Italian ‘lingua’, a reference to the tongue-like shape of the hills) is a little corner of southern Piedmont  extending for 40 km/25 miles south of the river Tanaro, and has at its fulcrum the city of Alba. 
The landscape is characterised by a succession of ridges and hills, once the seabed of the ancient Padano sea. It’s here that for over two thousand years the local inhabitants have cultivated the vine, identifying the best slopes for their autochthonous grapes, notably for their prized Nebbiolo.


The Barolo zone, lying within the Langhe, is influenced by the proximity of the Alps and of the Mediterranean sea. The Alps mountain range protects the region from the prevailing westerly winds and adverse weather, while the humid Mediterranean air- streams carry warmth from Liguria to the south.
This very particular mesoclimate is ideal for the cultivation of the vine (‘vitis vinifera’): the continental climate brings cold winters and snow, hot summers and long autumns, perfect for nurturing a biodiverse ecosystem.


Nebbiolo, along with other traditional grapes of the Langhe, are regarded as a ‘vector’ of the territory, due to their unique capacity to bring out – through the wines – the rich and diverse expression of terroir.



Bunch: medium-large, pyramid shaped, winged, semi-compact

Berry: medium-large, rounded, with a firm, waxy skin

Budding: early

Ripening: late

Organoleptic description of the wine: bright red ruby colour; intense floral aroma, elegant; a structured, excellent wine that improves with long ageing


Bunch: small, short pyramid shaped, fairly compact, rarely winged

Berry: medium-large, short ellipsoidal shape, with a firm, waxy skin

Budding: early

Ripening: late

Organoleptic description of the wine: red ruby and garnet colour; intense bouquet characterised by a floral, fruit, and spicy perfume; of great structure, particularly suited to a long evolution in bottle.



Considered in the region as a subvariety of Nebbiolo, it has recently be discovered to be a different genotype, a variety in its own right, even if it shares many of the same characters similar to Nebbiolo, to which it is genetically close. Some growers refer to it as a ‘Nebiol matinee’ (early Nebbiolo), so as to underline the precocity of its ripening versus Nebbiolo.
Its range is now quite limited.


Bunch: medium, cylindrical winged or pyrmidal, compact

Berry: small-medium, short ellipsoidal, with a medium thick, waxy skin

Budding: early

Ripening: late

Organoleptic description of the wine: pale red ruby colour, but it possesses interesting olfactory notes; the structure and acidity is more restrained compared to that of a normal Nebbiolo


Barbera, widely palnted in Piedmont, is characterised by its great versatility: its grapes, notable for the naturally high level of fixed acidity, are used in a broad variety of wines. Responsible for producing young reds, everyday wines of medium body and, in the end, with selected fruit, great maturity and with ageing, wines that are important, rich & generous, of great elegance.


Bunch: medium, short winged pyrimidal or cylindrical shaped, fairly compact

Berry: medium-big, ellipsoidal; a slightly waxy skin

Budding: early

Ripening: medium-late (first week of October)

Organoleptic description of the wine: intense ruby red with hints of violet; a vinous perfume, fine and fruity; a good structure and spiky acidity.



Bunch: medium, truncated cone shaped, winged, slightly compact

Berry: medium-small, short ellipsoidal, with a firm waxy skin

Budding: early

Ripening: quite early (first week of September)

Organoleptic description of the wine: intense ruby red colour with violet hue; a nose of cherry and red fruits, slightly almondy. Dolcetto wines are moreover characterised by a low acidity and a pleasant if slightly bitter aftertaste; one drinks them young or after a short time in bottle.


Native to the village of Verduno, this grape was at risk of extinction in favour of more widely-grown varieties until being given the recognition it deserves from the 1970s on.

 of medium size, elongated cone or pyramid shaped, with one or more wings, slightly loose

Berry: small-medium, short spheroidal to ellipsoidal, with a thin waxy skin

Budding: late

Ripening: medium-late (first week of October)

Organoleptic description of the wine: Soft, bright ruby red with pink nuances; intense, fragrant, floral nose, with characteristic notes of spices (white pepper) and wild strawberries; fresh and delicate, with good structure, to be enjoyed young or following brief ageing.



A close relative of Nebbiolo, it is a variety historically linked with lower Piedmont viticulture, for good reasons: easy to manage, rather resistant to disease and adverse weather conditions, and with a naturally balanced productivity. Although the variety was extremely widespread until the end of the 1800s, very few hectares remain in production in the Langa today.


Bunch: of medium size, rather elongated cone, short winged pyrimidal or cylindrical shaped, slightly loose

Berry: medium, short ellipsoidal, with a thin but resistant waxy skin

Budding: medium-late

Ripening: medium-late (last week of September)

Organoleptic description of the wine: Intense ruby red with violet nuances; typical strawberry aromas (lat. fresia), good structure with firm and sometimes rustic tannins. Both dry and sparkling versions are widespread.


Illustrations – Ampelografia of Luciano Fiora, 1980.


Native  grape variety originally from the commune of Novello, historically limited in its range and only recently rediscovered.
The local pronounciation of the variety is NAS-CËTTA.


Bunch: of medium size, cylindrical with one or maybe two wings, compact

Berry: of medium size, short spheroidal to ellipsoidal, a medium-thick skin, slightly waxy, a golden yellow colour, with hints of amber and rust.

Budding: early

Ripening: quite early (around the second week of September, similar to that of Dolcetto)

Organoleptic description of the wine: yellow straw colour; a floral, fruity perfume, with intense aromas in youth that have the capacity into something much more complex after a few years in bottle; of good structure, restrained acidity, excellent sapidity and length