A thick tome, 132 years old, has survived to tell the story of Piedmont's grape-growing past. That is, if you can decipher the flowery penmanship and wade through the anachronistic turns of phrase. There, in a section on grape varieties in the book called “Wine Production and Oenology in the Province of Cuneo, 1879”, lies both the question and, perhaps, the answer to one of the region's great mysteries.
Elmer Swenson is a legend in cool climate grape growing circles. This is thanks to all his research, mainly in Minnesota, developing hardy varieties that thrive in a cold climate growing season, survive cold winters, but can also make really good wine.
As I was waiting for the wonderfully nice lady to finish wrapping up our prosciutto di Parma, our salami in olive oil with actual slices of white truffle, a delicious rice salad, some amazing stuffed peppers, and other wonderful stuff, I wandered towards some shelves where bottles of local wine stood. Nebbiolos, Barberas and Dolcettos by some good producers I knew, and some I didn’t, and also, to my great pleasure, some Freisa.
Can American Vitis species produce wines that compare with those made from vinifera on a global stage? If so, will the wine traditionalists ever accept them? While continued research and experimentation with these varieties will hopefully answer these questions, perhaps an educational introduction will get the ball rolling.