Piemonte – truffles, mists and fine wines

Human beings can be quite perverse.  I have tried in the past to resist the lure of the great Piemontese wines – perhaps because everyone else makes such a fuss about them or because some of them are quite expensive.  But if you are interested in Italian wine, sooner or later you have to go to Piemonte and especially the Langhe.  And then it becomes quite simple.  The reason why Barolo and Barbaresco are part of the world’s wine aristocracy is that great (and highly addictive) wine is made here.  And when you do visit, you discover there is far more to Piemonte than just the most famous areas:

  • other great wines, white, red and sparkling
  • other important regions in Piemonte
  • outstanding cuisine even by the standards of the general excellence of Italian food
  • wonderful landscapes
  • and, perhaps most surprising, a sense of being in a normal farming region, even if some of the produce is treasured around the world.

These pages are dedicated to this great region.  They draw on a visit Janet and I made in the spring of 2010 and on a number of other recent tastings.  If you haven’t got the bug already, be warned, it is highly contagious!

The landscape of wine – Before the wine,  and certainly before words about wine, the landscape is to be celebrated. The town of Barolo has the sleepy air of a small place which has inadvertently given its name to a world famous product.  But what really stand out is the view from the town.  Every available square metre of land seems to be covered with vines.  Read more


‘Highlights of Piedmont’ – Stephen Brook MW has an enviable task – to pick some of his favourite newly released Barolo and Barbaresco and introduce them to the trade at a recent Decanter event. He has to get his selection down to ten wines and so he can only nod at Dolcetto and Barbera as grape varieties and indeed to the Roero district. Read more


Landing in Piemonte – Arriving in a famous wine area for the first time is wonderfully exciting.  As you drive from the airport (in this case Turin), you pass through the neighbouring countryside which is flat as a pancake, if lying between the snow-covered Alps and the ‘ridges’ which give the Langhe its name.    Read more


Barolo – world famous region south west of Alba

Elvio Cogno: a family winery in good health – This estate was created in 1990 when Elvio Cogno decided to set up in his own name, having previously been part of an important partnership. It is now run by Walter Fissore and his wife Nadia (Elvio’s daughter) who showed us around this beautiful farm house (cascina) which serves as winery and home. Read more


Multifaceted Vajra: Planning a week’s tasting in a region is a mixture of thorough preparation, chance meetings and recommendations, and sheer persistence. And there is the question of whether to visit wineries which you already know and whose wines are available in the UK as opposed to those you can only taste in situ. Read more


Elio Grasso has 16 hectares in the Barolo area with spectacular views of Serralunga d’Alba.  Mind you, you almost give the ghost before you arrive because, although it is just outside of Monforte d’Alba, to get to the estate you have to go three quarters the way around a hill to be facing nearly back from whence you came.   Read more


Renato Ratti – The winery of the historic family firm of Renato Ratti sits overlooking a magnificent sweep of vines, just on the edge of the town of La Morra.  Sig. Ratti made a significant contribution to wine making here, being first off the mark with the classification of the important single vineyards, the ‘cru’. Read more


Barbaresco – great wines east of Alba

 

Albino Rocca – here is a very assured feel about the entire operation at Albino Rocca in the village of Barbaresco itself.  The vineyards have been build up to an impressive 23 hectares and the usual excellent job has been done in  hiding the winery under the house.   There is also the obligatory beautiful view of the hills of Barbaresco and the town of Neive. Read more


Fiorenzo Nada – This smallish family firm produces six wines, all red, with a total production from six hectares of 40,000 bottles a year.  As Danilo explained, there are just three of them in the firm, so the up side is that you get to do a bit of everything.  He had worked previously as a sommelier in the Gordon Ramsey restaurant in Claridges. Read more


Bruno Rocca – above all the land The message at Bruno Rocca’s family winery in Barbaresco is clear.  However much they are completing an impressive new winery under current house, the heart of the matter is the land.  It is only now after three decades that the new winery has become a priority, until then it was buying the best possible sites. Read more


Ca’ del Baio – This winery is appropriately enough near ‘three stars’ (Trestelle), itself a sort of mid point between the three Barbaresco communes – Treiso, Neive and, of course, Barbaresco itself.  But the three stars could also refer to the three daughters of the family Read more


Giacosa Fratelli is rather different from most of the wineries we visited in our recent week in Piemonte.  The winery is much bigger than most of the places we visited, a large, functional building coincidentally right next door to Bruno Giacosa, who, after Gaja, is probably the biggest name in Barbaresco. Read more


Roero – home of Arneis and peaches, north of Alba

Malvirà – There are some days when everything is just perfect – the spring sunshine, the countryside emerging from a long hard winter, the place, the people.  Our visit to Malvirà was one of those days.  As with quite a few wineries in Piemonte, the building could be just a rather larger house from the outside. Read more


Monchiero Carbone – just down the road from Malvirà in Canale itself is Monchiero Carbone which is the product of the two named families joining forces in the present husband and wife team.  Again,  the winery is hidden from view, here underground, below the courtyard of a traditional dwelling.   Read more


Hillsberg-Pasquero – Annette Hilberg arrived in the Roero area from Germany 26 years ago and now seems very settled.  She  and her husband were about to set off for a tasting of old vintages of Barbera at the end of a long day. She was clearly excited about this, which is great to see in those in the trade. Read more


Gavi – a famous name and some great, ageable, whites

Generally, Gavi has a reputation a bit like Soave – rather a basic, mass produced white wine, popular in the past with Italian restaurants, with a few good exceptions which only wine buffs know about.  La Scolca, or Soldati La Scolca to give it its full name, have always held out for quality and especially for the steep rise in interest which bottle ageing brings to good Gavi.  Read more


Monferrato

Michele Chiarlo, while being based in the Monferrato region, has important wines from many key areas of Piemonte – whites from the Roero and Gavi, Moscato, an interesting sparkling wine which we drank when we were in Alba, quality Barbera and of course Barolo and Barbaresco.  The highlights included the premium Barbera, La Court, Barbera d’Asti Superiore ‘Nizza’ 2006Read more


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2 Responses to “Piemonte”

  • winefriend:

    I agree – I am really looking forward to going to all the other Piemonte regions and adding pages on their wines; the Langhe should not get all the glory!

  • Luciano:

    dears !!! what about another Nebiolo: Gattinara for example with excelent cellars like Travaglini, Nervi or Antoniolo

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