Last edited on 1/24/2008 by campvin
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The wines of Piemonte are noted as far back as Pliny's Natural History. Due to geographic and political isolation, Piemonte was without a natural port for most of its history, which made exportation treacherous and expensive. This left the Piemontese 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 French woman 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. Outside of the Langhe, the most prominent area of wine production in Piemonte is the chain of sub-alpine hills that run through the provinces of Novara and Vercelli. Here the Romans introduced spionia, an ancient variety that thrived in foggy climates. Whether this was in fact a genetic ancestor of Nebbiolo is unknown, but the derivation of its name, Spanna, is now how the locals refer to this noble grape. The Morainic soils, mostly deposited along the Sesia River, are of glacial origin and produce more medium-bodied, aromatically driven nebbiolo than in the Langhe. The appellations of note in Novara are Gattinara, Lessona and Bramaterra, and in Vercelli are Ghemme, Fara, Boca, and Szizzano.