Ghemme wine takes its name from the town of the same name in Piedmont.
It’s the top denomination of the Novara hills and is produced
in the hilly part of the towns of Ghemme and Romagnano Sesia.
The oldest human and agricultural finds discovered in the area of
Ghemme date back to the IV-V millennium B. C. Vine growing was already
known to the Celtic populations which lived here but became particularly
important during the Roman period. Recent studies have identified
the production of ceramic cups and goblets in the area used for
the consumption of wine.
Precious thirteenth century parchments prove the ownership of vineyards
by the lacustrine basilica of San Giulio d’Orta.
In the fifteenth century the hamlet of Ghemme supplied the kitchens
of the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, and his court with wine.
The terracotta friezes showing trellises with leaves and bunches
of grapes which decorate some of the windows in the hidden medieval
castle are from this period. In this fortified hamlet situated inside
the present day historic centre, among the houses in river pebbles
and bricks, Ghemme wine has rested for centuries in capacious and
In the sixteenth century Charles V’ census provided a broad
perspective of Ghemme with its eighteen masters’ wine-presses:
the nobles of Milan, Novara and even Venice owned vineyards in Ghemme
so as to ensure the supply of good wine at their banquets.
In the nineteenth century the additions to increasingly specific scientific
knowledge gave a renewed impetus to vine growing and refining procedures
producing pioneers of modern oenology (Gianoli, Don, Nicolini). The
results were not long in making themselves seen: awards in Vienna,
Paris, Melbourne, Philadelphia. In 1894 a New York wine importer spoke
of the encouraging results achieved by Ghemme and the positive comparison
with already established French wines.
Camillo Benso, the Count of Cavour, the man who praised the organoleptic
characteristics of Novara wines, passed through the Ghemme area on
his return from Plombière’s meeting with Napoleon III.
During a “meal” set out in the Romagnano hotel he praises
the nobility of the wines offered to him, comparing them to the finest
French wines, for the period the measure of qualitative excellence.
Still in the nineteenth century Fogazzaro, who had lived in Turin
as a student, chose Ghemme for the gala banquet described in “Piccolo
The famous wine expert Vermorel defined Ghemme wine a “Chateau
In recent years Ghemme has honoured the tables of illustrious figures
invited to Piedmont: Mrs. Thatcher, the Pope, the fourteen European
heads of State at the Stresa meeting.
In recent decades much has been done to valorise this small part of
Piedmont with great qualitative potential, aware of its illustrious
past and of how much the Nebbiolo vine species can offer. But this
is not all: the new implants show how much is being staked on the
future of this wine.
Ghemme was recognised a DOCG wine, (denomination of origin controlled
and guaranteed) by decree on 29 May 1997; having already been declared
DOC, (denomination of origin controlled) by decree on 18 September
The area of production
Ghemme is produced in the hilly area of the boroughs of Ghemme and
Romagnano Sesia, in the province of Novara.
The vineyards rise up on a series of hills of morainic, alluvial
origin which extend from the mouth of the Valsesia to the Novara
plain. These high areas have been formed from deposits washed down
to the valley from the Monte Rosa glacier.
Ghemme wine undergoes a period of ageing of at least three years,
20 months of which is spent in oak casks and 9 in the bottle.
The vine species
To say Ghemme is to say Nebbiolo, the father of the great Piedmontese
reds. The name of the vine highlights the late ripening of the grapes,
when the first fogs begin to fall.
The local name of the vine is Spanna, probably the oldest of its
During the first century the naturalist Pliny of Como describes
it as uva spinea, a vine species of northern Italy which resists,
or rather, breathes the fogs.
The grapes are spherical and covered in a mantle of bloom, almost
as if they were covered in fog (another interpretation of the origin
of the name Nebbiolo).
The option of adding the native Vespolina and Uva Rare jointly or
separately is permitted up to a maximum of 25%. Recently a reduction
of this figure to 15% has been called for.
The wine has significant organoleptic characteristics: a good ruby
red colour with garnet reflections; an enveloping bouquet with notes
of liquorice, red brushwood fruits, hints of violet and spices;
the taste has a characteristic fine, persistent sapidity and an
elegant sensation of fullness enriched by rounded tannins which
merge with its vibrant structure.
Excellent with meat and game dishes as well as strong flavoured
A wine aged for long periods, with a longevity of over 15 years,
Ghemme should be served at a temperature of 18-20°C.