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.

Ancient history

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 safe cellars.
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.

Recent history

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 mondo antico”.
The famous wine expert Vermorel defined Ghemme wine a “Chateau Lafitte”.

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.

Technical description

DOCG recognition
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 1969.

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 synonyms.
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.

Organoleptic characteristics
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 cheeses.
A wine aged for long periods, with a longevity of over 15 years, Ghemme should be served at a temperature of 18-20°C.