Piemonte was my first stop in Italy. I landed in Milan, rented a Fiat, of course, and my journey began. It was summer unfortunately, not the best time to visit Piemonte for Barolo and truffle risotto. However, Arneis and Brachetto were just perfect enough. My friend Giorgio hosted late afternoon lunch in his house just a little bit south of Acqui. He made big bowl of Minestrone soup, stinging nettle ravioli, panzanella salad, “carne crudo,” a serving of grissini and local bread, yumm…Upon the guests arrival we were all greeted with perfectly chilled glasses of Brachetto. I never thought of Brachetto as an aperitif. For me it was always a dessert wine, which I hardly ever drank. On that hot and sunny summer afternoon Brachetto shined in a very different light. It was bubbly, crisp, smelled like strawberry compote and freshly plucked rose petals, it had great acidity with just enough sweetness to want more of it…

I think it’s time to give you a little bit of insight what exactly Brachetto is.

The dessert wine of Brachetto d’Acqui is produced in 18 communes in the province of Asti and 8 in the province of Alessandria. The wine is made from a blend of Brachetto, to which Aleatico and Moscato Nero can be added (up to a maximum of 20%). It is one of the few Italian sweet wines to earn DOCG status.

Brachetto’s origin is much disputed. According to the most reasonable hypothesis, the variety originated in the hills around Asti and, more probably, in the Monferrato, which is the home of many other famous Piedmontese wines. However, Demaria and Leardi in their Ampelografia della Provincia di Alessandria , published in 1875, argued that Piedmontese Brachetto, which is quite fragrant and aromatic, origined at Nizza Marittima (Nice). Which make sense: Brachetto is also known as the Braquet grape of southern France where together with Cinsault it makes very nice rosés around the city of Nice on the Cote d’Azur.

The modern production area is rather limited, with output confined to the territories of various communes in the province of Asti, primarily Nizza Monferrato, and that of Alessandria, principally Acqui. However, its limited production is compensated by its fine quality, which makes this wine incomparable.

Try Giacomo Bologna’s or Cà dei Mandorli Brachetto and summer will knock on your door.