Piedmont, Italy is a place I’ve never visited; but, I’m headed there, once Covid travel restrictions are lifted. Yesterday’s story began my virtual journey. Briefly:

Covid’s restrictions stopped all travel, as I was supposed to be in Piedmont this past November… I watched each month with hope, before it arrived, throughout the entire year as month after month slipped away. I hung on until October, when I had to truly face reality, heave a huge sigh of despair, and mentally move on. Piedmont, on the northwest of Italy, bordering Switzerland, to the northeast and west of France, just slipped away like a fabulously enigmatic night in Rio. Now, I can only imagine.

[PHOTO property of Castello di Gabiano]

But wait!

A ZOOM meeting was arranged through my friend Michael Yurch, with The Bluest Sky Import Group, which would have me speaking with proprietor Marquis Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno of Castello di Gabiano [Right]. From Piedmont, over time and with grace, Giacomo shared his passions, and now I’m able to share with you.

Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno’s Life Passion

In our Zoom meeting, I began to learn about Giacomo’s amazingly curious world of wine. Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno was born in Italy, and was then raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That was until he turned 18. At that point, he began going back and forth. Today, Giacomo continues to spend his time between Italy and Brazil. And, as we began to speak, he shared that his wine-world-focus actually begins in his vineyards. That’s one of the best kind of wine stories in my world… a life communing with nature and nurturing its growth. It’s so easy to wax poetic about this.   

[PHOTO CREDIT: Castello di Gabiano, Piedmont, Italy.]

Piedmont Italy, from Castello di Gabiano


[PHOTO: Wikipedia]

The Piedmont region of Italy is located in the foothills of the Alps. It forms a border with France to the west, and Switzerland to the north. As we think of Italy’s boot shape, Piedmont’s in the top-left cuff of the boot. Here we find Castello di Gabiano in the famous Gabiano region, of the Monferrato DOC and DOCG. This hilly area is located between 400 to 1,150 feet sea level, and lies below the River Po in the southeast corner of, in northwestern Italy, according to Wine Searcher.

[PHOTO property of Castello di Gabiano]

It’s Barbera country, where the essence of this grape variety tends to be of cherries and violets, to strawberries, plums, and blackberries… along with some spice and jamminess. Barbera is a flavorful, chameleon-resembling wine; just like great Petite Sirahs, which can be – and are – so radically different. Philosophies of how to deliver the wine, based on the growing and then all of the winemaking conditions and steps, makes a Barbera so attractive as an adventure into this wine grape variety and its regions.

[PHOTO property of Castello di Gabiano]

It’s now the third most planted variety in Italy, enjoying a unique, higher altitude profile… The wines are very expressive, being either lighter in tannins and ready upon release, or full-bodied and much more mature. Castello di Gabiano is known to produce those full-flavored wines with great aging potential.

Given its popularity as a wine variety in Italy, it makes me really curious to taste one right now. Known to be very food friendly, I’m off to locally find a Piedmont Barbera for another aspect of this journey.


[PHOTO CREDIT: Silvano Ghirardo]

Casetllo di Gabiano is locate in the temperate zone of the 45th parallel. The Alps (1,150 feet) and the seaside (400 feet) makes it perfect wine grape growing weather. From

“During the growing season, the half-circle backdrop, of the highest mountains and glaciers in Europe makes for cold winds and cool nights all trough summer. The temperature excursion, of more than 10° Celsius [50° Fahrenheit] between days and nights, makes the grapes seek protection with thick skins.” Giacomo continues, “This process makes exceptional grapes, which are the sources of aromas and persistent flavors.”

I try to equate this, when teaching how these smaller, flavor dense berries, as what wild Maine blueberries along the coastline. They explode with flavors and this is what is crafting the wines of

[PHOTO: Castello di Gabiano, Piedmont, Italy.]

Usual temperature ranges:

    • Summer in July ~ 75 degrees
    • Winter in January ~ 34 degrees

Driest months:

  • July
  • January

[PHOTO: Castello di Gabiano, Piedmont, Italy.]


I found this fascinating on Prestige Wine Adventures, regarding terroir:

“Although the winemaking regions of the Piedmont and Bordeaux are very close in latitude, only the summertime temperatures are similar: the Piedmont wine region has a colder, continental winter climate (temperature variations day to night, between the seasons) and significantly lower rainfall due to the rain shadow effect of the Alps. Vineyards are typically planted on hillside altitudes between 490–1150 ft. The warmer south facing slopes are mainly used for Nebbiolo or Barbera while the cooler sites are planted with Dolcetto or Moscato.”

It puts quite a bit into perspective, if you’re a terroir lover like many people I know. It’s more defining for the potential flavors of each region. See, that’s the thing about tasting each region, it’s all about its inextricable, character uniqueness.

[PHOTO purchased]


LIMESTONE, VOLCANIC, MARLSTONE BASED: Soils are one of the definitions of wine.

  • Limestone creates softer wines, with a less tannic structure.
  • Volcanic, a fine grain, gives a wine minerality. It assists with aromas and acidity.
  • Marlstone, a variable of clays and silt, brings color and a smooth texture.


AGING: According to Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno,

In our cellar we have Barberas for the best vintages, starting from 1946.

“The main local grapes are Barbera, Freisa (warmer) Grignolino, Dolcetto (cooler) for reds, and Cortese di Gavi for white. The soil comes from it being from an ancient seabed, with a shallow layer of Clay. This gives way to deeper Limestone, which is broken up at plowing.”

All of these elements combine to produce what’s known as typical gray Monferrato terroir.


[PHOTOS purchased]

According to Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno, the following are two usual foods from Piedmont, to enjoy with their age-worthy wines:

    • ABOVE: Monferrato Agnolotti del Plin: tiny ravioli pasta-parcels, filled with a combination of beef and cabbage, then served in a cheese, sage, and butter sauce; or even in a leftover braising liquid.
    • BELOW: Vitello Tonnato is another typical dish. Wikipedia describes this one perfectly: “Vitello tonnato is a Piedmontese [citation needed] (Italian) dish of cold, sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce that has been flavored with tuna. It is served chilled or at room temperature,[1] generally in the summertime, as the main course of an Italian meal or as “an exceedingly elegant antipasto for an elaborate dinner.”[2] It is also very popular, by inheritance, in Argentina, where it is known by its original name in Piedmontese dialect Vitel tonnè, (spelled Vitel Toné or Thoné in Argentina) and considered a traditional Christmas dish.[3][4]”

The wines are yet to come for writing. Now that we know a whole lot more but Piedmont, I’m already salivating and really looking forward to traveling again…

Thank you to Wine Business for adding this story as a wine blog feature.