Monday, 25 January 2021

Langhe, the landscape of wine and the wine of the landscape

Langhe hills Langhe hills

It is enough to say the name of the Langhe to already smell the wine

The image of the Langhe is today inseparable from that of enology because here, much more than elsewhere, wine and culture have made a special pact, recognized in 2014 by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.

From a landscape point of view, the Langhe are a perfect example of a "wine landscape", that is a place where viticulture has given birth to millenary traditions which, in turn, have contributed to improving and enhancing the economy linked to the world of oenology.

You say "Langhe" and immediately the mind is crossed by waves of green hills dotted with villages with red roofs, dominated by the towers of a medieval castle. Scan the two quick syllables «Langhe» and the perfect lines of the vineyards appear, which seem to be traced by a divine ruler to fill every curve of the hills, from the tops of the bricchi, on which a grove of downy oaks appears, up to the gorges of the "rittani" shaded by the woods, the ravines at the foot of the hills where mysterious rivers flow from the humid banks and the vegetation so dense that you cannot cross them.


The Langhe are the casket of green hills between the Tanaro river and the Ligurian Apennines, whose height can vary from 200 to over 500 meters. For simplicity, the Langhe can be divided into two distinct areas: the Bassa Langa that runs along the right bank of the Tanaro river on the Barolo - Alba - Neive axis, characterized by the monoculture of the vine, castles, medieval towers and medium and large villages dimensions; and the Alta Langa, whose high hills extend close to Liguria, wild, less inhabited and wooded, furrowed by millenary stone terraces: here the vine gives way to hazelnut groves and, in the surroundings of Ceva, to wheat fields and pastures.

To tell the truth, there is a "third" Langa, often not mentioned and yet of vital importance for wine production. It is the Langa Astigiana, that straddles the Monferrato towards the Northeast, which belongs to the surroundings of Santo Stefano Belbo. Here coexist characteristics of the Bassa Langa (hills largely planted with vines) and the Alta Langa (steep and high ridges, woods, hazelnut groves and terraces). It is a productive and lively Langa, whose main grape is Moscato, from which two champion sweet wines are obtained, Moscato d'Asti Docg and Asti Docg sparkling wine. But we will talk about this Langa and its “Moscato Hills” in another study.


The great predisposition of the Langhe to wine is partly due to the climate and soils. The first is fully continental in character, with excellent temperature changes between day and night. Above all, contrary to popular belief, the Langhe have a fairly dry climate, which pushes the vines to seek nourishment in depth, where those microelements that complex the wine are preserved, making it deeper and more fragrant. The soils are essential for the characterization of wines and those of the Langhe are first class.

These are ancient soils, of Miocene origin (over 20 million years old): ancient sea beds emerged from ancestral waters, rich in clayey marl, limestone and a certain percentage of gray-yellowish sands. The clayey marls are the geological element that gives the wines body and structure; while the limestone and sandy part gives perfumes and elegance. It is no coincidence that the Langhe are famous for reds: in these territories the wines are able to balance power and finesse, depth and freshness.

Langhe wines are therefore austere, noble and complex, but they never lose a natural predisposition to drink, that is an innate ability to be sipped with taste, glass after glass.

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