The wines of Piedmont are noted as far back as Pliny's Natural History. Due to geographic and political isolation, Piedmont was without a natural port for most of its history, which made exportation treacherous and expensive. This left the Piedmontese with little incentive to expand production. Sixteenth-century records show a mere 14% of the Bassa Langa under vine -- most of that low-lying and farmed polyculturally. In the nineteenth century the Marchesa Falletti, a frenchwoman by birth, brought eonologist Louis Oudart from Champagne to create the first dry wines in Piemonte. Along with work in experimental vineyards at Castello Grinzane conducted by Camilo Cavour -- later Conte di Cavour, leader of the Risorgimento and first Prime Minister of Italy -- this was the birth of modern wine in the Piedmont. At the heart of the region and her reputation are Alba and the Langhe Hills. This series of weathered outcroppings south of the Tanaro River is of maritime origin and composed mainly of limestone, sand and clay, known as terra bianca. In these soils -located mainly around the towns of Barolo and Barbaresco -- the ancient allobrogica, now Nebbiolo, achieves its renowned fineness and power.