Grapes are grown throughout the northwest, from the cliffs of Liguria to the steep mountainsides of Valle d'Aosta.
The best wines, how ever, come from Piedmont, in particular the Langhe hills southwest of turin, source of two of italy's finest reds: the rich, powerful, long-lived Barolo and Barbaresco.
Both of these are now showing the benefits of modern techniques and a renewed interest in high-quality wine making.
Lighter, everyday red wines that go well with the local cuisine include Dolcetto and the popular Barbera.
Another Piedmont speciality is sparkling spumante, Italians' instinctive choice whenever there is something around to celebrate.
· Barbera d'Alba: comes from the adaptable Barbera grape, which can grow on almost any slope. Its ubiquitous nature means that the wines it yelds can be light and full of fruit, as well as dense, strong and full-flavoured. Good producers include Aldo conterno, Voerzio, Pio Cesare, Altare, Gaja and Vietti.
· Dolcetto: is grown in seven different areas. Dolcetto d'Alba has a delicious perfume and deep purple colour. Best drunk within two years, it ranges in flavour from fresh anf fruity to the rich, concentrated plumminess of some of the top wines, such as those produced by giuseppe Mascarello.
· Barolo: prized the world over for its complex array of flavours and firm tannins, is made from the Nebbiolo grape and may take up to 20 years to mature. Vigna Colonnello is a top Barolo from Aldo Conterno, made only in the best years like 1993, 1990 and 1989.
· Moscato d'Asti: is an excellent aperitivo or light dessert wine made from the aromatic, fruity Moscato grape. It is light in alcohol with a gently sweet finish and may have a slight sparkle.
Ideal for refreshing the palate after a hearty Piedmontese meal, araldica's versatile Moscato is delicious when served well chilled.