Barbaresco Wine Tour Travel Guide - Where to Eat Sleep & Drink

Tips from a local; the insider guide to Barbaresco wine area.

Barbaresco one of the major wine making areas in the Langhe region, in Piedmont, Italy. Here you have the more elegant side to the Nebbiolo grape. Barbaresco is made up of 4 villages and is a much smaller region than the neighbor you know who, to the west. 

In Barbaresco the altitude is much lower but the hillsides are much steeper and the views, well the views are just even more breathtaking. In Barbaresco we are lucky as they are 4 little sleepy towns just waiting to be waken up. Here is my guide of each town in Barbaresco wine area.

The Barbaresco Guide:

The Barbaresco village itself is touching the river Tanaro which divides the Langhe from the Roero. If you are into hiking, a walk along the river Tanaro is very nice and throughout the vineyards of Barbaresco to Neive there are many very nice paths. Talk to your hotel for the local walking maps. 

Barbaresco Tower

Barbaresco Village Wine Lover’s guide:

Where to sleep: Agriturismo Cascina delle Rose

Here you will be welcomed like family by Giovanna and her sons. Located in the heart of Rio Sordo, considered one of Barbaresco Grand Cru, you are in a perfect position to reach easily activities all throughout the Langhe and Roero area. See also if you can get a tasting with Riccardo, the wine are amazing too!

Where to eat: Tastè 

As the name implies, Taste, at this restaurant the idea of dining is quite fun as everything is meant to be served in share plates or small portions. So you can embark on a culinary journey to taste your way through the whole menu. This is a great place for larger parties of 4 or more.

Where to drink: La Barrique 

On your way into the city center of Barbaresco, you can find this little caffe, wine bar looking out over the Tanaro river. Here you can grab a nice bite to eat or simply just sit outside enjoying the view, sipping on a nice glass of Barbaresco wine, while watching the people walk by. 

Winery visitBruno Rocca 

This small family run winery is making some amazing long lived Barbaresco in the area. A visit to this winery is a must, as they will first hand walk you through the Barbaresco production area, how the wines are made and give you a very interesting and stellar tasting. A reservation is a must. 

Because one is never enough! Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy 

The history of the family who has owned this estate since 1797, gives you a tour with lots of  history of the Barbaresco area, and its wines. Being the only monopol in the Barbaresco area, to taste the Martinenga cru, especially at the source is something quite wonderful. 

Barbaresco Wine Village

Treiso Village Wine Lover’s guide:

Where to sleep: Villa Incanto 

A cute little place to stay that is right next to the restaurant Tornavento is Villa Incanto.  Here they have a wonderful view of the Langhe, equipped with a swimming pool and located in a quiet part of the town Treiso.

Where to eat: La Ciau di Tornavento 

In Treiso there is a very important 1 Michelin starred restaurant called La Ciau di Tornavento. You might have heard this name before because they are placed in many magazines for their incredible wine cellar.

Because one is never enough

I must mention Osteria dell’Unione. A small family run Osteria making some great examples of the typical Piemontese cuisine. Please note that this place does not accept credit cards. 

Winery visit: Giuseppe Nada

Located on the main road heading up the hill to the town of Neive, you can catch a glimpse of all of the Barbaresco vineyards from here. The wines of Giuseppe Nada are elegant examples of Nebbiolo and Barbaresco at its finest. A visit here you are welcomed with warmth from the whole family.

The Neive Village Wine Lover’s Guide:

Where to sleep: Borgese 

If you are looking for an architecturally stimulating place to stay, look no further than here. This small hotel was once one of the historic homes of Neive now beautifully renovated for guests to stay in comfort. 

Because one is never enough: Al Palazzo Rosso 

A very cosy and hip boutique bed and breakfast, here they have restored an old home in the city center that only has 4 rooms to rent. If you rent the suite, then you get access to the rooftop balcony!

Where to eat: L’Aromatario

This place I recommend getting a reservation as they tend to always be booked. The wine list is very hip with a good selection, but the handmade pasta is TOP.

Agnolotti del Plin Neive Barbaresco Foodie

Where to drink: Al Nido della Cinciallegra 

This place is my watering hole, as many evenings before dinner I will stop by here to have a chat with friends and a glass of wine. If you are in the mood to taste some more Barbaresco, you can ask to do a Barbaresco tasting, where they will pour for you several examples to taste. 

Winery visit: Ressia 

Fabrizio is very proud and passionate about the wines he is making and has every right to be.  He makes a very interesting dry Moscato as well as a wonderful Barbera d’Alba and Barbaresco.  A small family farm they work only 5 hectare of land and the winery welcome could not be warmer. Ask about his Barbaresco Riserva Gold Label.

The San Rocco Seno d’Elvio fraction of Alba Village, Wine Lover’s Guide

Where to sleep: Mia Clara 

This family run hotel is nestled in the vineyards of Barbaresco area. What once was an old farmhouse has been beautifully restored into a small Relais. Here if you are looking for peace and quiet and a place away from the crowds this is it. 

Winery visit: Adriano 

A small family run winery who are very much in-tune with the area of both Barbaresco and Alta Langa. They not only make some wonderful examples of Barbaresco, but they also have hazelnut groves, and make their own Cugna (a Piemontese chutney that typically pairs with cheese). A visit to this wonderful cellar is a must. 

Other articles you might enjoy:

Wine Tasting In Langhe, Walk-in Tasting Rooms

The Ultimate Barolo Wine Tour Guide: Where to Eat | Drink | Sleep

Wine Tasting in Langhe, Walk-in Tasting Rooms

Don’t like making appointments to visit your favorite wineries here is my quick list to wineries that have a walk-in tasting room.

In order to make the most out of your time wine touring around the Langhe, I do highly recommend getting in contact with the wineries before hand to organize a tour and tasting, but lucky for us there are some wineries who do not require a call or email ahead of time.

Here is my quick list to the wineries who will accommodate to these pop-in tastings:

Wine Tasting in Barbaresco:

Neive Walk-in Tasting Rooms

Castello Neive, Barbaresco

Castello di Neive:

Town Neive

Day of Closure: Tuesday

Opening times: 10:30 till 6:30 pm

Located in the Castle in the town of Neive, this cellar has been producing wine since the 1800’s. If you catch them at the right time you can also visit the cellar which is a beautiful historic cellar with many artifacts dating back to the 18th century. In the tasting room they offer an array of different types of wines and have a list of choices per each wine.

Massimo Rivetti at Porta san Rocco:

Town Neive (conveniently located across the small piazza from Castello di Neive)

Day of Closure: Never

Opening times: 10:30 till 8:30 pm (nice place to have an aperitivo as well)

This location is a second location for the winery, the actual farm is located in the Neive hills and typically this tasting room requires a reservation ahead of time. But Porta San Rocco Wine Shop is a great place to meet the family and taste their wonderful wines. They even have videos to bring you as close as possible to life in the vineyards and winery as they can. A very relaxed atmosphere and a great place to spend a lazy afternoon enjoying a glass of wine on the terrace. They also offer an E-Bike service if you would like to add some sport activity to your vacation.

Wine Tasting in Barbaresco:

Barbaresco Walk-in Tasting Rooms

Produttori del Barbaresco:

Town Barbaresco

Day of Closure: Never

Opening times: Monday through Friday 9:00 till 1:00pm then again from 2:00 till 6:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday they don’t close for lunch break so they work straight through from 10:00 am till 6:00 pm

This winery is very important as the last working cooperative in the Langhe.  Started in the late 1800’s it was Domizio Cavazza who was working as a professor at the time in the Enology school in Alba. It was his idea in the beginning to call the wine after the town of Barbaresco, actually as story goes he wanted to expand the Barolo region over to the Barbaresco area not to have any confusion with the two geographic zones. This didn’t happen, but he did manage to help the farmers out in the area of Barbaresco with experiments and new technologies in wine making that had helped to put Barbaresco on the map.

Barbaresco Harvest

Wine Tasting in Barolo & Barbaresco:

Alba Walk-in Tasting Rooms

Ceretto:

Town Alba Fraction San Cassiano

Day of Closure: Never

Opening times: 10:00 till 5:00 pm

The Ceretto winery is a great visit, one of the few wineries in this area that understood how to take art, architecture, and wine and put them together in such a wonderful way. The tasting room at their Alba location has a wonderful room like a plastic bubble that was designed to look like a grape and if you see some photos on their website it does look just like that. The wonderful thing is from there you get a wonderful view of the rolling hills in the Langhe and also get a glimpse of some of their vineyards. The tasting options that they have are a good range and on the spot you can choose which type of tasting you would like to participate in. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable.

And if after you are hungry you can try and score a spot at Ceretto’s 3 Michelin starred restaurant, the only one of 3 stars in Piedmont.

Wine Tasting in Barolo:

Serralunga d’Alba Walk-in Tasting Rooms

Fontanafredda:

Town Serralunga d’Alba

Day of Closure: Never

Opening times: 9:30 till 6:30 pm



This is a winery with a whole lot of history, in order to actually have a winery tour you must make a reservation ahead of time, but for just a tasting room visit you can walk in at anytime in between the hours listed above. Fontanafredda is the largest working winery in the Barolo area and from this they have two wonderful restaurants on site. You can grab a quick bite at the Osteria or if you would like something absolutely magnificent you can make a reservation to enjoy a meal at their Michelin starred restaurant Guido.

Barolo Winery Fontanafredda

Wine Tasting in Barolo:

Barolo Walk-in Tasting Rooms

Borgogno:

Town Barolo

Day of Closure: Never

Opening times: 10:00 till 1:00 pm then again at 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm

Barolo Wine Tasting Room Borgogno

If you fancy a stroll around the Barolo village you can certainly take a pit stop at the Borgogno tasting room. Be warned because here in the village of Barolo the locations tend to be much smaller and thus this tasting room attracts a lot of attention and will most likely be jam packed. If you stop by there on a Thursday in the late spring/summer they will open up the terrace on the top of the building tower where you can go to enjoy a glass or bottle of wine and enjoy the vineyard view.

Damilano:

Town Barolo

Day of Closure: Never

Opening times: 10:30 until 6:30 pm

Please note that they also have a winery down the street but the tasting room shop is located in the center of Barolo where it is more convent to walk around and explore the small village. The friendly staff at this tasting room are very knowledgeable and will be able to help you find the perfect tasting package to help you get to know and understand the wonderful Nebbiolo grape.

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Barbaresco Wine Tour Guide

Barolo Wine Tour Guide

Top 10 things to do in Barolo - where to sleep eat and drink

Barolo vineyards

The wine region Barolo is made up of eleven different villages, in which only three are entirely inside the Barolo boundaries. 

  1. La Morra:

Where to sleep: Corte Gondina https://www.cortegondina.it

This cozy bed and breakfast has really nailed down all the small details for one’s comforts. Located in the center of the historic village of La Morra you are walking distance to great restaurants and Enoteca’s.

Where to have a coffe and croissant: Mangè http://www.mange.it

This place opens early and will be bustling with the locals to grab their morning cup of Joe and a small sweet bite to eat. Freshly made cakes and pastries are a perfect breakfast treat

perfect Italian cappuccino

Where to eat: Osteria Veglio https://www.osteriaveglio.it

Reservations weeks in advanced is a must, this restaurant has been open for a few years and is gaining popularity more and more every year. The food is traditional, flavorful, and amazing. 

Winery visit: Elio Altare http://www.elioaltare.com

This winery visit needs a reservation, and is one of the harder ones to get into, but I wanted to place this on the list as Silvia not only is doing an amazing job filling her fathers shoes but the family story about how a group of youngsters changed the Langhe forever is a very important piece of history that needs to be told.


Because there are too many wonderful wineries in La Morra I could not pick just one: Oddero http://www.oddero.it/index.php/it/

Five generations making amazing world class wines. Their story and the tradition that they have captured within their winery visit is a must, and they have some of the biggest barrels I have ever seen. Make the splurge and ask to do their Barolo tasting where you can see side by side several different vineyards coming from different villages in Barolo. 

Barolo Oddero


2. Barolo

Where to sleep: Easy Così http://www.easycosi.it 

This charming, small boutique bed and breakfast is located in the heart of the small village of Barolo.


Where to eat: Il Buon Padre http://www.buon-padre.com

A family owned and operated winery + restaurant the must try are the hand cut Tajarin with ragù or butter and white truffle when in season


Where to drink: La Vite Turchese https://laviteturchese.it/?lang=en

This super hip Enoteca is a great place to relax and grab a drink or if you have some time and want to get educated in depth of the wines coming from Barolo the Barolo Masterclass is something well worth taking a look at. 


Winery visit: Bric Cencurio https://www.barolodibarolo.com/it/produttori/33-bric-cenciurio.html

This small family owned and operated winery is conveniently located in the center of the Barolo village. A very accommodating family, with just a quick email and you will be welcomed in like family. 


3. Serralunga d’Alba / Sinio

Where to sleep: One of my favorite romanic luxury hotels in the area, is in a castle in the neighboring town to Serralunga d’Alba, called Sinio. Castello di Sinio a small Luxury hotel comes equipped with the best hospitality in the area, a restaurant with an amazing wine list and a pool! https://www.hotelcastellodisinio.com/en/


Where to eat: Osteria Tre Case http://osteriatrecase.it/index.php/en/

Two young and passionate entrepreneurs in love with food, wine, and, traditions of the Langhe.

Tajarin pasta



Winery visit: Massolino http://www.massolino.it

A very historic and traditional cellar, going back over 100 years of history. This winery in particular gives a very good and educational visit about the land, its territory, the history, and the wine making process. The wines are good too. 

4. Castiglione Falletto

Where to eat and drink!: Cantina Comunale Produttori di Castiglione Falletto. Here you can start off with an in-depth Barolo tasting and finish with a wonderful typical lunch on one of the most beautiful patios in Barolo. http://www.cantinacastiglionefalletto.it/index.php/it/


Winery visit: Azelia http://www.azelia.it/it/

Another small and family run winery, who are taking their skills to the next level. The 5th generation Lorenzo is very accommodating and when he is not out traveling the world is very happy to welcome curious tasters in to talk about his wines.

5. Monforte d’Alba

Monforte d'Alba

Where to sleep: Hotel Villa Beccaris https://www.villabeccaris.com/?lang=en 

This hotel is in probably the best spot of Barolo, on the top of the historic center of the village Monforte d’Alba you will have some of the most incredible views of the snow covered Alps and the rolling hills of the Langhe. 

Where to eat: Trattoria della Posta http://www.trattoriadellaposta.it

This is probably one of the most written about restaurants in Monforte d’Alba and it merits its compliments. Very traditional cuisine done right. 

Winery visit: Conterno Fantino http://www.conternofantino.it

This is hard to say but could be one of the most architecturally pleasing wineries I have been to. The views from the winery are amazing, and the visit very friendly and informative, if you have the change to be shown around by one of the family members or their wonderful tasting room assistant Claudio you are in very good hands. 

6. Novello

Where to drink:Vineria La Nas-Cëtta https://www.facebook.com/vinerialanascetta/ 

A quaint little Vineria located right in the historic center of Novello, outside of the Castel walls. If you can grab a seat outside to enjoy the views of the rolling hills in Barolo and a view of the Elvio Cogno winery. 

Winery visit: Elvio Cogno https://www.elviocogno.com/en/

This winery is a great visit, as one their Barolo wines are amazing, but also they have a very important history of bringing back an almost extinct grape Nascetta

7. Verduno

Where to eat: Trattoria dai Becau in Verduno another one of the most beautiful villages in Barolo. Here are two brothers who own and operate this wonderful Trattoria, and are crazy for Pelavera (a native grape varietal to this area, and one of the only places it is grown). At this wonderful and classic Trattoria you are taken in like family, that it is really not to be missed.  You will have a really great time here, trust me! http://www.bercau.it 

Where to drink:Casa Ciabotto http://www.casaciabotto.it

In Verduno the king grape here is Pelaverga a wine with aphrodisiac powers. In the castle of Verduno the King of Savoy was known to take his mistresses to this town and entertain them with the wine of Pelaverga. If this theory really works, we will never know ;)

8. Diano d’Alba

Where to taste/drink:Cantina Comunale I Sorì di Diano d’Alba http://www.soridiano.it/en

Here you can enjoy a tasting or a glass or two of Barolo and Dolcetto di Diano. Located in a historic building with a beautiful outside area overlooking some of the Barolo vineyards

9. Grinzane Cavour

Where to eat: La Tagliata Brasserie - http://latagliata.it

If you like steak, if you like things cooked over fire, THIS IS YOUR PLACE. Great for larger groups where you can taste all the different cuts of meat that are offered. Don’t expect to find any veggies on this menu it is all meat and maybe a potato. 

10. Cherasco

Where to sleep: Hotel Somaschi Monastero di Cherasco https://www.monasterocherasco.it/it/homepage

Located in a historic Monastery where class and luxury come together. Located in the heart of the historic center you are walking distance to everything Cherasco has to offer. 

Where to eat: Ristorante Da Francesco https://www.ristorantedafrancesco.com

If you are thinking to treat yourself head over to this one Michelin starred restaurant 

Barolo




A Three-Day Stay in Turin for Foodies

If you are fulfilling that Foodie dream of visiting the Piedmont to taste fantastic Barolos or Barbarescos on-site, or perhaps you are lucky enough to be in that delightful region learning about its famed, regional star, the Alba white truffle, make sure to add a trip to Turin to complement your experience.

As a food lover, I am happy to suggest foodie options nearby the must-see places in Turin. Here is a guideline for a three-day, foodie visit in the splendid, unpresuming, Piedmontese capital.

Note that I have nicknamed each day according to the day’s highlight. I recommend that you assign, at least, half a day for that main activity. You will see that everything is within walking distance, and you can go at your own pace. Undertake the days in whichever order you prefer--just check the opening hours.

Turin is the cradle of the Slow Food movement; so, get in that laid-back mood and don’t rush. The best way to enjoy Turin like a local is to take a break, whenever possible, at the next café or gelateria

Day “ ROYAL”:

Get to the heart of the House of Savoy, Italy’s royal family.

Highlights (both at Piazza Castello):

· Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) – Hosts the Royal Museums. (closed Mon)

· Palazzo Madama (Madama Palace) – Hosts the Museum of Ancient Art. (closed Tue)

· Reale Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Royal Church of Saint Lorence) – Admire its beautiful dome by Guarini.

Interesting:

· Duomo di San Giovanni – Here is where the Schroud is kept. Note that it is usually not on display. The Duomo is located adjacent to the Palazzo Reale.

· Porta Palatina (Palatine Gate/Towers) – Standing from Roman times, this was the main gate to access the city from the north, as well described here by Rome Across Europe.

Foodie Tips:

· Caffè al Bicerin (1763) – Birthplace of the bicerin, a coffee-chocolate-cream drink, considered a traditional Turinese specialty. (closed Wed)

· Mercato di Porta Palazzo – With over 1,000 stalls is one of the largest and oldest, fresh produce markets in Europe. (closed Sun)

· Pastis – A casual place to pop by at any time from breakfast to dinner, or just for a coffee or an aperitif. After all, the aperitif was invented in Turin in 1786. (open daily) / At the Carpano Museum you can learn more about this story.

· Tre Galli – A winebar/restaurant in the Quadrilatero, featuring 1,200 labels! (closed Sun)

· Tre Galline – This traditional restaurant of fantastic, Piedmontese cuisine is just a few steps (2-min walk) from Tre Galli. (open daily)

Day “EGYPT”:

You will find this weird, but in the historic center of Turin it is possible to submerge yourself in the ancient, Egyptian culture like nowhere else …

Highlight:

· Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum) – It is the oldest Egyptian museum and the second largest of its kind (after Cairo) in the world. You will be astonished with the amazing collection. These guys were foodies! (open daily)

Interesting: · Palazzo Carignano - Hosts the National Museum of the Italian Unification (Risorgimento) at Piazza Carignano. (closed Mon)

Foodie Tips:

· Bar Abrate (1866) – Another historic place that has maintained its traditional charm but has adopted some coolness at the same time. Great panini. (open daily)

CaffeSanCarlo2017Jan-600x800.jpg

· Caffè Baratti & Milano (1858) – One of those gorgeous, historic cafés not to be missed. It is located in the beautiful Galleria Subalpina. A good place to try delicate pastry and gianduiotti. (closed Mon)

CaffeBarattiMilano2017Jan-800x600.jpg

· Caffé Mulassano – Another historic café, inventors of the tramezzino (triangular sandwich). (closed Wed)

· Del Cambio Ristorante (1757), Bar Cavour, and La Farmacia – Certainly, this is THE restaurant to experience fine-dining in Turin (closed Mon). Its Bar Cavour and La Farmacia (both open daily) are also good options for drinks or for something more informal but still refined. The three at Piazza Carignano.

· Gelati Pepino (1884) – The inventors of the Pinguino® (Penguin), the ice cream served on a stick covered with chocolate. Their ice cream is excellent, and the place is also nice to enjoy an aperitif. (open daily)

· La Romana (1947) – They have already established a large chain of ice cream shops, not only in Italy but also in Austria and Spain. With four parlors in Turin, their newest is conveniently located very close to Piazza San Carlo at via Santa Teresa 6. The ice creams are delicious. (open daily)

Day “CINEMA”:

No, you are not visiting Turin to go to the movies. It has much more to offer! The Mole Antonelliana, its landmark and symbol, hosts a very interesting museum ...

Highlight: · Museo Nazionale del Cinema (National Cinema Museum). (closed Tue)

Foodie Tips:

· AgriSalumeria Luiset – A great tip from the Tastes of Carolina! If you are a salami lover, don’t miss this excellent salumeria. (open daily, Sun only am)

AgriSalumeriaLuiset2017Jun-800x600.jpg

· Bar Mokita, Caffè San Carlo (1822), Caffè Torino (1903) - All at Piazza San Carlo, good stops for a coffee or aperitif. (open daily)

· Contesto Alimentare – A urban trattoria, as they defined themselves, that respects traditions, seasons, and the region.

· Eataly Lagrange – In 2007 the concept brand Eataly was born in Turin. You can find one of its shops in pedestrian Via Lagrange. (open daily)

· L’Essenza del Gelato – One of my favorite for artisanal ice cream. (open daily)

· Pastificio Defilippis (1872) – In-house elaborated fresh and dried pasta. Indulged at their restaurant or take some home. (restaurant opens daily / pasta shop Mon closed)

If you still have some time …

Check these three in the San Salvario district:

· Dai Saletta – If you are looking for that typical, Italian restaurant with checkered tablecloths, where it seems that the nonna is serving you her Piedmontese dishes, this is the place. (Sun closed)

· Mara dei Boschi – This fabulous artisanal gelateria was shown to me by Amanda and Carolina, two bloggers, who are food/wine experts on Piedmont! (open daily)

· Orso Laboratorio Caffè – Just next door to Mara dei Boschi. A special place to enjoy a good coffee. You can choose not only the beans origin but also the way you prefer the barista to prepare your cup. They can brew coffee in eight different ways. (open daily)

Get lost, strolling around its streets, squares, and 18 km of arcades. You will fall in love.

For some shopping, walk Via Roma (between Piazza Castello and Piazza Carlo Felice).

 

Upcoming foodie events in Turin:

· Una Mole di Colombe e Cioccolato, 17-18.Mar.2018

· Turin Epicurean Capital, 20-22.Jun.2018

· Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, 20-24.Sep.2018

· 88 International Alba White Truffle Fair, 6.Oct-25.Nov.2018

About Patty Boner

Patty’s wanderlust is almost as strong as her foodie instinct. She also loves writing, photography, and good food and wine. Because these are all things that reunite people, she likes to share them on Foodie Sneak Peeks. Follow her blog to discover awesome places while touring foodie spots she carefully selects.

My visit to the Cooper, Gamba Botti

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It is interesting because we always talk about visiting wineries and food producers but we never think about going to visit probably one of the most important things in wine making especially the aging of wines, the cooper! I recently had the chance to go and visit one of the last remaining 2 coopers in Italy and it was an amazing and very educational experience. Gamba is a 3rd generation cooper aging and working here in Piemonte, in Castell’Alfero to be exact. In this small village of Castell’Alfero Gamba Botti believes that this village has the best micro climate for the seasoning of their wood planks used to make these barrels. The seasoning process will typically range from 3 to 5 years, outside in the natural weather conditions to help take out the green phenolic components that are naturally occurring in the wood. By storing these staves outside they are exposed to wind, heat, rain, snow, cold temperatures that in time will help the wood to go through its proper maturation process. This is important so the final product does not give off foul or strange flavors to the wines.

Where everything starts, as Gamba works only with French oak that is sourced from several different parts of France. The forests or gardens as they call them are located in Nevers, Allier, Cher, Vosges, Troçais, Fontainbleauk Bourgogne, and Limousin. Keeping in mind we will talk later a bit more about the Allier forest and what special qualities this particular wood has. It is interesting and the thing that made me really think, I am not going to hide it, I am a lover of tradition and traditionally made wines, and so Slavonian oak for me for Nebbiolo is always number one. But you know what I have recently discovered? Was that French oak and Slavonian oak have one thing in common, they are the same species of Quercus genus. The two species best for barrel making are Quercus Peduncolata and Quercus Sessilis, the difference however coming from France of Croatia are the soil and climate but also the age of the trees. In France they will actually have gardens where they maintain these trees in such a way that they will grow straight, they will also never cut a tree before 120 years of age because that is the perfect age for the size and maturation of the trees. With these trees because for the staves for the barrels must be straight, the grain must grow in the same direction, and there can be no burls, and you will need a tree larger enough and tall enough in order to get the most out of the wood. If you think about the amount of waste from these trees to make the final product is quite impressive.

In the forest Allier, they will typically grow the Quercus Sessilis and in this forest you will find the soil to be much more clay, siliceous and not very fertile. Here the trees grow much slower and will produce a trunk much more thin. The grain of the wood grown here in Allier is fine and more compact but porous, making this wood perfect for oxygenation. The oxygenation process is very helpful for some wines like Barbara and Dolcetto who will tend to go into reduction quite quickly, by giving oxygen to these wines the wines are able to breath and will rid any off notes that might be a bit off.

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Now we shall talk about the more romantic part of barrel making, and that would be the toasting. For Barrique barrels the staves are toasted with fire, this method is called a toast check. This process is a controlled amount of fire at a lower temperature to create a slower toasting process, this helps to make sure that the inner part of the barrel does not burn or blister, and thus will result in a sweeter toast with much better flavor profile.

This toasting process also helps to form the barrels, as the staves warm up from the heat of the fire they are more malleable and thus can be bent to shape the barrel. This process will happen one side at a time with constant breaks for the wood to cool down to maintain temptress lower so the wood doesn’t burn and create off flavors.

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Once the barrel has been shaped now comes the fun part, putting the heads on the barrel. Basically for one side you can take and push up the head of the barrel until it fits, for the other side you will need to use a crowbar like tool that will be inserted into the bung hole of the barrel and will act like a hammer to hammer the other head into place. We joked about how many swear words go into getting this thing in place, because it did not look easy.

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After all this is said and done the barrels are then ready to be finished and wrapped and then sent off all over the world.

Gamba Botti makes quite the array of sizes of Barrique of 114, 225, 300, 350 liters, Tonneaux of 500 and 700, as well as Botti Grande (big casks) from 1,000 to 10,000 liters, on special requests these barrels can also be made bigger.

Where to Eat and Drink in Barolo:

There is something very special about the wine region of Barolo, located in the Piedmont region of Italy (“Piemonte” in Itailan). Maybe it is the beautiful rolling hills, surrounded by vineyards. Or maybe it’s the laid-back atmosphere of the people who live and work here. It might also be the care, passion, and authenticity of the winemakers and their wines. No matter, Barolo is a “must visit” for wine lovers everywhere. 

 My husband and I visited the Barolo region in early September. We stayed for a weekend and visited a handful of carefully-selected wineries. We stayed in a charming farmhouse B&B, situated amongst the beautiful Piedmont hills. Our B&B also happened to make their own wines. The entire experience of our weekend in Piedmont can be summarized in a few words: romantic, educational, unfussy, picturesque, and memorable. As a wine lover, food and travel enthusiast, and blogger, I’d like to share with you my favorite Barolo wineries and eateries!

Cantina Mascarello Bartolo: Perhaps the most highly regarded winery in the Barolo region, Cantina Mascarello Bartolo is a “must visit” for all wine lovers. Why? Well, the Mascarello Bartolo wines are nearly impossible to find in Italy or internationally. The winery produces a relatively small number of bottles each year, and they are sold out well before the wines are even bottled. They take special care to produce their wines using traditional methods, and they have an extremely loyal following of wine-loving customers around the world. Despite the high demand for their wines internationally, the owner of the winery, Maria Teresa (daughter to the late Bartolo Mascarello), makes only enough wine to comfortably sustain her business, her family, and her employees. Moreover, she refuses to substantially raise the price of the wines, as she believes it would be unfair to the winery’s long and loyal customers. There is no greed or pretense here – just a passion for producing high quality wine in a traditional way. Due to the high demands for Mascarello Bartolo wines, you can’t buy the wine at the winery. Fortunately, you can still have a free tasting and tour of the cellars. If you’re a true wine-lover, don’t pass up this opportunity to experience the Mascarello Bartolo wines. You must call ahead to make a reservation. The winery does not have a website. Phone number: +39 0173 56125.

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Podere Ruggeri Corsini: Podere Ruggeri Corsini is located in the country, nearly halfway between Monteforte d’Alba and Barolo. Our tasting here was perhaps the most educational experience we had during our visit to Barolo. Podere Ruggeri Corsini is a wonderful family-run winery with reasonably priced wines and excellent customer service. The tasting was free, and it was extensive. The wines were all very high quality, with my favorite being their Barolo from Bussia. The entire tasting experience at Podere Ruggeri Corsini was laid back, relaxing, informative – and delicious, of course! They also have the cutest little dog that likes to join in on visit. Call or email to make a reservation. +39 340 6741204.

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Brezza Giacomo e Figli:Located in the town of Barolo, Brezza is a popular winery that also owns a hotel and restaurant. As the name would suggest, the winery is owned by the Brezza family. The Brezza estate spans over 22 hectars and dates back to 1885. Brezza had by far the most wines of any of the tastings, with multiple Barolos that I loved. Bonus? The wines are all sold at very affordable prices! You can reserve a tasting and tour by appointment only. Check out their website for more information.

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Tenuta Montanello: This is the farmhouse B&B we stayed at during our trip to Piedmont. The location is perfect, nestled in the heart of Castiglione Falletto. The prices are reasonable, the scenery is unbeatable, breakfast is included, and the rooms are very comfortable. If you’re looking for a relaxing and authentic place to stay during your visit, I highly recommend Tenuta Montanello. Above and beyond having a wonderful stay here, Tenuta Montanello is also a very small family-run winery. Their wines are all quite elegant and very inexpensive when compared to other wineries in the area. They have an outdoor seating area that overlooks the surrounding vineyards. My ultimate recommendation for Tenuta Montanello? Stay here. Have a complimentary wine tasting. Buy a few bottles of their amazing wines. Crack a bottle (or two) while relaxing outside and taking in the views. Then – voila! You can walk right to your room and go to sleep when it’s time ☺

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Scarzello: This was the last wine tasting during our stay in the Barolo region. In this case, it’s appropriate to say “we saved the best for last”. In my opinion, Scarzello’s wines were by far the most elegant and high quality of all of the wines we tasted. The price tags are a bit higher on their wines, but it is completely worth the additional cost. Scarzello is a family run business, located in the town of Barolo. The setting for our tasting felt like we were casually enjoying wine in someone’s living room. They make very few bottles of wine per year when compared to other wineries in the region, so definitely pick up a few bottles while you’re visiting! Tastings by appointment only.

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La Case della Saracca (in Monforte d’Alba): La Case della Saracca is a small restaurant and B&B, located on an otherwise very quiet street in Monforte d’Alba. It’s a locals favorite, and for good reason. This place is just cool. It’s where I recommend you eat for aperitivo or dinner – but you MUST make reservations. In high season, you might consider making reservations a week or more in advance. The building itself was restored to preserve a medieval atmosphere, but with a modern twist. If you’re lucky enough to score a reservation for dinner, you will be guided upstairs, where there is only one table on each level, for a total of 8-10 tables max! The small number of tables is also why it is very difficult to score a dinner reservation. The restaurant sounds fancy, but it’s not expensive, and their wine list is WONDERFUL (they even had Mascarello Bartolo wines). The food was great. If you can’t score a reservation, come for aperitivo anyway. They have the best aperitivo around. You buy a drink (they have a great selection of wine by the glass, cocktails, and so on) and you help yourself to the very generous and extensive buffet of snacks. More information can be found here

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Trattoria Cascina Schiavenza: We lucked out and got a table for lunch without a reservation here. Cascina Schiavenza has superb wine, food, and views. Established in 1956, Cascina Schivenza is a family-run restaurant and winery located in the region of Serralunga d’Alba within walking distance from the castle of Serralunga. Mum Lucia and her daughter prepare typical Piedmont dishes, specializing in home-made pastas. This is a great option for lunch or dinner. Make sure you try some of their Barolo wine with your meal! Reservations can be made HERE.

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The vast majority of Piedmont wineries (including the Barolo region and other regions) require reservations for tastings. Additionally, the wine region of Piedmont is quite large. If I were to do the trip all over again, the only thing I would do differently would be to hire a local guide. First, local guides know how to pick the best wineries based on your tastes and budgets. You would not have to worry about any of the planning or making reservations at individual wineries. Secondly, hiring a local guide is great because you don’t have to DRIVE! There is no “easy” way around the area – taxis are not common (and they are very expensive). Therefore, you must typically drive around the region. There is a lot of wine to be drunk, and having transportation taken care of is a HUGE benefit – for your enjoyment and for your safety! I highly recommend reaching out to Amanda for your wine and food tasting and tour needs!

For more posts like this (and delicious authentic European recipes), visit www.thetravelingcookabroad.com

Name: Cammy Romanuck Murphy

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In love with farmers market - "I Mercati" not to miss

I love going to the weekly farmers market, to see the seasonal fresh produce and to watch the little old nonni bartering with the vendors about the things they are planning to buy for lunch that day. Here is a list of some of my favorite mercati in the area.

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Monday -

Mango - Piazza XX Settembre - Via G. Marconi - Mango is a quaint little medieval town and this market is quite limited in things it offers but has all the basics. Situated in the Piazza where the castle is located, if you are here in the season when the Moscato d’Asti Enoteca is open I recommend stopping in for a nice refreshing glass of Moscato d’Asti.

La Morra - Piazza Vittorio Emanuele - A great Monday market with just the basics to get you started in the week.

Monforte d’Alba - Piazza Mons. Dallorto - A well curated smaller market with just the basics to get you started in the week.

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Tuesday -

Alba - Piazza Cagnasso - Here is a smaller version of the market on Saturday. It is located under the covered parking area and is a bit limited on things that is offered but is good if you are in a pinch.

Canale - Via Roma - Piazza Italia - Via Gravier - Piazza Martiri L. - Via Malabaila - Piazza Vittoria - Piazza Castello -  This market is here everyday in the mornings it is open only for the restaurants in the area and after 4pm it is open to the public. On Tuesday all day it is open to the public.

Canelli  - Piazza Gancia - Piazza Zoppa - This is a very versatile market, great produce and many things to choose from. Great cheese, fish, and poultry stands.

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Wednesday -

Bra - Piazza XX Settembre - Corso Garibaldi - A nice market to visit, typically has many different vendors for local products and great produce.

Neive - Piazza Garibaldi - A smaller market with many produce vendors, great cheese vendors, and if you have a craving for rotisserie chicken this market has got you covered.

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Thursday -

Alba - Piazza Cagnasso - Here is a smaller version of the market on Saturday. It is located under the covered parking area and is a bit limited on things that is offered but is good if you are in a pinch.

Castagnole delle Lanze - Piazza S. Bartolomeo - Via Roma - Via Casetta - A great market and if you are in love with seafood they have a great fresh fish stand that offers the daily catch. The gentleman working the stand will gladly clean the fish for you too!

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Friday -

Bra - Piazza XX Settembre - Corso Garibaldi - Piazza Carlo Alberto - A nice market to visit, typically has many different vendors for local products and great produce. Another plus is this market is very close to the most wonderful cheese store Giolito. Located on Via Montegrappa 6, and they have cheese courses and cheese tastings!

Murazzano - Piazza Cerrina - Piazza Umberto I - A small local market, and being in the heart of the Alta Langa cheese protection area, here there are some wonderful Murazzano D.O.P. cheese vendors.

Canelli - Piazza Gancia - Piazza Zoppa - Viale Indipendenza - Great market with lots of things to choose from. They have fresh seasonal vegetables, cheese, poultry, fresh seafood, clothing and other miscellaneous things that could be interesting.

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Saturday -

Alba - Centro Storico - This market is great because you can get just about anything. They also have a great little area called “Mercato di Terra” in Piazza San Giovanni, which sells all local, organic, specialty products all grown and produced from a very short distance from Alba.

Asti - Piazza Alfieri - Piazza Campo Palio - Piazza Libertà - Another great market to visit and this one is very large that is is held in 3 Piazze. At this market it is not uncommon to find antiques and other random things for sale.

Mondovì - Piazza Ellero - Another great assortment of fresh produce, locally made salame, cheese, and oven baked bread. A large and vast market to visit.

Saluzzo - Concentrico e Via Don Soleri - Saluzzo could be one of my favorite towns to visit that is located at the foot of the Alps. A historical town with plenty of great restaurants, wine shops, and lots of shopping. But with the addition of the market you now get an array of fresh produce, cheese, honey, bread, everything to make your home cooked meal even better.

*photos courtesy of Letizia Cigliutti

Moscato d’Asti - What you really need to know

I am going to let it out, the good, the bad, and unfortunately the ugly about the Moscato grape and it's wines. I talk to a lot of people and well, most people tell me that they are not fans of Moscato d’Asti. When they were younger and willing to try this slightly sweet, fizzy wine they were quickly surprised by how sweet and unbalanced many of the wines that are easily accessible at the local liquor store are. There are many reasons as to why it is easier to find a bad Moscato than a good one. I am going to point you in the right direction to finding the best Moscato.

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When Moscato is picked it is harvested by hand, because here in the Asti - Langhe areas we have very steep slopes that are dangerous to drive tractors so hand picking is essential, and once in the vineyards the workers will go through each bunch one by one to make sure there are no rotten or raisin like berries. Those will come off. Then the grapes will be placed into small plastic baskets that are filled with holes for breathing purposes. This is important as during the warm summer days, you don’t want the grapes to be to hot or if one berry does break you don’t want that to start to ferment when you are on your way to the cellar. (This could create problems)

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If the grapes are hot, you will wait until they cool down to crush or use dry ice to lower these temperatures. The grapes need to be cool in order to maintain the most aromatics in the wine. Once the grapes have gone into the crusher de-stemmer they are moved immediately into a press to get the juice off of the skins.  From there the juice goes into a temperature controlled stainless steel tank where the temperature will remain under zero centigrade. This is important that the wine does not start to ferment until after it’s two filtration.These filtrations are to help take off the dirty sediments that might be left after the crush and pressing. The first filtration is used to take off the larger sediments and then after a much finer filtration to take off any sediments that might discolor or leave an off flavor to the wine. This process happens immediately in order to obtain a must as clean as possible. After this process has finished the grape must will stay in the tanks under -1° degrees centigrade until that barrel is needed to make wine. They can keep these barrels like this for months until the time is ready for the Moscato to be made. This is important because the longer the must stays in contact with the fine lees the more aromatics and complex the wine will turn out.

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Once the wine maker decides it is time for some Moscato they will slowly raise the temperature of the tanks at about 10 - 15 °C to get the fermentation going, at this point there will be selected yeast added to help with the fermentation process. Because this wine has been taken off the skins and filtered twice before the initial fermentation the select yeasts are very important for the wine. Without these yeasts you might wind up with a wine that has off aromatics and has too much trouble making the alcoholic fermentation.  The fermentation takes place in a autoclave* and this process can take 30 - 40 days total. Slow soft fermentation allowing the bubbles to gently integrate with the wine and making sure to keep those wonderful fruity flavors in the wine.

*An autoclave is a pressurized tank that has double walls to keep the bubbles in the wine.

Once the wine has finished the fermentation and the pressure of the bubbles in the wines do not surpass 2.5 bar of pressure then the wine is ready to undergo a sterile filtration that will remove any yeasts that might start to ferment in the bottle. Remembering that there is still a high content of sugars in Moscato, it is important to not have fermentation starting up again in the bottle!

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After this filtration process the wine is then ready to be put into bottle under pressure. The wineries will have to have a special bottling machine to keep the bubbles in the wines.

Just to stress a bit more, Moscato is a wine that needs a lot of care. I only spoke really about 3 filtration but in reality there are over 10 that will happen to the wine before it makes it into the bottle. This is a very delicate wine and runs a high risk of becoming spoiled, both in the winery and after the final product is finished. So from this it is best to know your wines and here are some things you should look for. To make a Moscato the winemaker must have a lot of passion for this grape as during the harvest the time to relax and have a good night sleep are few. (I know this as my husband painstakingly makes Moscato every year and thus late nights and early mornings)

Understanding that reading labels is not easy it is even harder to read and understand Italian labels. But I am going to help you to understand. Here are some quick pointers.

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First if a Moscato is coming from anywhere else than Italy, then it is not a D.O.C.G. Moscato d’Asti. These three words Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G. are very important for the quality of the moscato. The  D.O.C.G. is a set of very strict regulations, in order to have this label on your wine it must pass a series of sever tests. In the vineyard, a chemical analysis, a blind tasting by other winemakers, etc. So when you see this you know you are at a good starting point.

If you see the name just Moscato written on the label without any other designation, this means they can make the wine how ever they would like and you could wind up with something flat, or overly sweet. Unfortunately this plus the overload of producers who need to have a Moscato to complete their catalog are some of the things that makes it very hard to find a good quality, hand crafted product. Moscato Madness if you will.

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Some of my favorite Moscato d’Asti DOCG wines on the market today:

Gianni Doglia: A small family run winery it’s just Gianni and his sister Paola taking care of the winery. They make about 80,000 bottles a year in which they have 2 Moscato wines, both of very high quality and both very different.

La Spinetta: One of the larger wineries in the area, but one of the first to take Moscato to another level of quality. Giorgio Rivetti and the beginning of his career was making up to 5 different single vineyard Moscato d’Asti wines to show off the differences from each vineyard. Today they only have 2 labels and maintain a consistent product every year. More about La Spinetta here!

La Caudrina: Another great family run winery, Romano Dogliotti in the 1970’s took over the family farm and put La Caudrina on the map with high quality Moscato d’Asti and also an amazing Asti Spumante. The next generation wine team for the Dogliotti family has added a few more wines to the family portfolio and have been maintaining a great quality. More about La Caudrina here!

Scagliola: The fourth generation of winemakers for this family has been recently taking over this absolutely beautiful property. Working together with the 3rd generation, family Scagliola are making still traditional wines as well as trying some new techniques. The wines are fresh, clean, and high quality! Also try their Brachetto.

Elio Perrone: A very small family producer working with only indigenous grapes from the Asti area, Stefano Perrone became famous for his wine Bigaro. A blend of Moscato and Brachetto grapes, made the same way Moscato is made so a bit fizzy and sweet with a great rose color.

Barbaresco Master Class

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Let’s dive into the rules, regulations, and some myths and tales about Barbaresco wine growing area. Barbaresco is a smaller appellation to it’s bigger brother Barolo, and even bigger neighbor to the north Roero. Barbaresco appellation is made up of 3 villages and a fraction of Alba calle San Rocco Seno d’Elvio. The 3 other villages that make up a part of this winemaking area; are Barbaresco, Treiso, and Neive. From these three areas Neive is the largest land area in all of Barbaresco but Barbaresco has them beat with the most amount of Nebbiolo planted in the area. This makes much sense because the quality level of the growing area in Barbaresco is much greater and greater quality to the other regions.

In Barbaresco alone you have the most amount of what we could compare to the French Grand Cru vineyards. In Barbaresco the Grand Cru vineyards would be considered Asili, Pora, Bricco, and Montestefano. Followed by Ovello, Rabajà, Riosordo, Martinega, Roncalini, Roncaglietta, and Trifolera, then Bernino, Vincenziana, Moccagatto, Ronchi, and Faset. The Barbaresco area is the closest to the river Tanaro, it is practically touching the river bed and thus this is very helpful in case of a storm coming from the north area Roero, before the storm will reach Barbaresco it will have been taken up the river by its current.  The soil in Barbaresco village belongs to the Tortonian period, where a bluish marl - clay that is very compact, which is defined as Sant’Agata Fossils.  Barbaresco here is sharing the same soil structure as the neighbors in Barolo villages Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba. Here, because the soil is more compact and more difficult for vine growth we are left with a product more rich in tannin and with more complexity. Which could be why there are the most amount of growing areas of Grand Cru quality.

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Neive my home and I cannot tell you how much I love to live here, and you must come to visit! Like me you might not want to go home. Neive is a bit more north east respect Barbaresco and Treiso and the soil structures vary quite a bit.  The more southern part of Neive where you have more Moscato, towards the area Mango you will have more Tortonian-Serravallian with veins of Lequio formations, here you will find more of a grey marl mixed with sand. The vineyards that are on the boarder of Barbaresco share the same Tortonian bluish marl and thus are more complex than the latter. Towards the northern bit you have more sandy soils, better for younger drinking wines. There are only 2 Grand Crus in Neive and that would be Gallina and Cottà with Bordini, Chirrà, Gaja, Balluri.

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Treiso shares a lot in common with Barolo, towards the south western part of Treiso you will find wines that have a lot of the same complexity as Barolo. With this said you will find a lot of the same soils as you will in the Barolo area. Tortonian and Tortonian-Serravallian, lots of clay, grey marl, and iron rich soils with little or no sand. There are less grand crus in Treiso but some vineyards to keep an eye out for are Rombone, and Gresy. Also Montarsino, Varaldi, Castellissano, followed by Rizzi, Bongiovanni, Marcarino, and Stella. Treiso and San Rocco Seno d’Elvio are a lot of the same vineyards, for instance Rizzi, Montersino, and Meruzzano.

Interesting story about San Rocco seno d’Elvio is this fraction of Alba is where an Emperor of Italy was born. Elvio Pertinace and you will find his coin on the bottles of Produttori del Barbaresco labels as an ode to the Emperor who represented this area. Pretty cool?

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In the area of Barbaresco there is not only Nebbiolo grapes, it is a major part of this wine making area but not the only one.  There is even more of a history with the grape varieties of Dolcetto, Barbera, and also Moscato in these areas.  Historically these other grapes were the wines that were consumed most. More as table wines for everyday consumption, and while Nebbiolo would have been the more affordable wine to drink, the people at that time paid a little bit more to have Dolcetto and Barbera. It is funny because today we talk about Dolcectto and Barbera like sports teams, not many people like both varietals. This is because Dolcetto starts of fruity and floral and then has a finish with a little bit of tannins and some almond skins, this flavor gives a bitter aftertaste. Most people don’t get along with this aftertaste but in terms of pairing with food it is very important and thus Dolcetto pairs well with most types of food.  Barbera on the other hand has no tannins at all has lots of red fruits and a bit of iron flavors, and is famous for its bright acidity that cleans the mouth. This wine is then paired with fattier foods, meat dishes, and cheeses.  Then we have Moscato which in the two towns of Neive and Treiso can make Moscato d’Asti, a lightly fizzy sweet wine that pairs well with Panatone, and with fresh fruit like strawberries and peaches, or just on its own as a pick me up in the late afternoon. We will talk more about Moscato in a later blog post as I would like to explain all the hard work and sleepless nights that goes into every bottle of Moscato d’Asti.

After all of this talk about the areas and what makes them so special lets take a minute to talk about the rules and regulations of Barbaresco area. To make a Barbaresco starts at the slope in the vineyard where you can grow Nebbiolo grapes on an East, South, or Western facing slope and you cannot growthe Nebbiolo higher than 550 meters above sea level. This excludes all together the North facing as when the DOCG was put into place the reasoning was that the late ripening variety Nebbiolo would not finish its phenolic ripening process. The maximum amount of grapes that can be harvested per hectare is 8 tons and the alcohol must be higher than 12%, and the vine training must be Guyot. After all of these specifications once the grapes have been brought into the cellar the fermentation and maceration depends on the grower, but the wine can be released on the 3rd year after the harvest and 9 of those months in cellar must be in wooden barrels. From there you can keep the wine in barrel longer and in bottle longer and can release when you would like but the basis is 9 months in wood. The wines when they are finished will need to go through a series of exams, one is a chemical analysis and the second is a sensory analysis where many wine makers who are part of the Consorzio will attend a blind tasting to make sure these wines are meeting the necessary standards.

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Once all of this has taken place the government will issue banderols to place on each bottle of wine as proof of its legality. Now the wine is ready to drink! Just kidding, one question I get asked a lot is when should you open a bottle of Barbaresco to maximize its full potential in this wine. Like taste, this answer is not so simple, also there might be many winemakers who have a different idea I would like very much for them to share their experiences. I cannot answer for everyone but I hope to make a diplomatic approach to my answer. Once upon a time Barbaresco and Barolo were wines that were to dink with at least 20 years of age. Because of climate change, and new technologies in the cellar I feel as though these Nebbiolo based wines can be enjoyed at a much younger age. As much fun as it is to save a bottle in your cellar for the next twenty years to one day take it out to share with your friends and loved ones I am of the type that I just can’t wait.  To many things can happen to this bottle of wine from today to the next 20 years and I am not wanting to take a risk.  So I say to many people that the best time to enjoy a Nebbiolo wine like Barbaresco and Barolo is after the first 5 years the wine is in the bottle. Here is the tricky part, how do you know when the wine was in the bottle? Well the safe way to go about it, is unless it is a Riserva you can be safe to say that the wine was bottled near the year it was released, but unless you talk to the winery it is hard really to know. So here is my cheat sheet! About 10 years from the vintage in the bottle is the best time to start to drink your Barbaresco or Barolo. It is not a rule of thumb but it is pretty close to getting you to optimal drinking potential. The first 5 years the wine is growing developing, then after this period the wine starts to age, just like people. Some of us get better while others of us just get a bit worse. Thus my fear of not wanting to wait to long. With this said there are plenty of wines that age amazingly and have a longevity that could out live all of us.

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Neighbor to the North, Roero.

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Here in the Langhe we talk a lot about Barolo and Barbaresco and the Langhe wines in general. What is Roero, where is Roero, and for an English sake how do you say Roero? The saying of Roero is pretty simple, especially if you grew up watching Scooby-Doo. RUH ROH. Ro-e-Ro you say? The Roero is located north of the Langhe on the Right side of the river Tanaro. Here in Roero the soils are much younger containing much more sandy soil than what you would find the the Langhe.  Also many times when the wineries are working in the vineyards they will find sea shells, and also fossils. Cool, nè? Many places when you go to visit will want to show of their findings and it is pretty amazing to see life that was here over 4 million years ago. The Roero was forever better known for its fruit production, peaches, apricots, strawberries, cherries, asparagus, and of course my beloved Arneis grapes. Today Roero is becoming more popular for it’s Nebbiolo growth as well and is making some wonderful world class wines from it too.

Let’s take a minute to talk about this crazy grape they call Arneis. Arneis was once known as Nebbiolo Bianco or Barolo Bianco, some say because it is a genetic mutation of Nebbiolo or if it was cultivated alongside Nebbiolo as a way to deter the birds. The Arneis would ripen quicker and would be much sweeter to the nose so the birds to flock to those grapes first, and by the time the Nebbiolo was ready for harvest the birds were long gone to it could ripen in peace. Anyways once people of this area started to vinify this grape they changed it’s name to Arneis. A word in the Piemonteis dialect meaning menace.  When I tell this to people they either laugh or are horrified that I used the word Menace to describe a grape. The reason for this is because once people started to vinify this grape they realized that it was very fussy in the cellar and needed much attention to make a light, mineral driven white wine.

Today you can find Arneis in many different styles of wine from sparkling, to still, to no skin contact, to maceration up to 30 days. There are also many high quality producers working with the Arneis grape today and the better examples of this wine are coming from the Roero region.

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One producer that I recently went to visit for the first time I would like to take a minute and let you know about them. It really was an amazing visit and the wines were even better than I had remembered. Giovanni Almondo is the name of the winery and they are well known in this area for their Arneis coming from the cru Bricco dell Ciliegie.  In this vineyard Stefano spoke to us about the families older vines and that have been in their family for generations. As a matter of fact his father was born in the small house that is on the top of this vineyard so there is much meaning and importance to this family for the Bricco dell Ciliegie vineyard. Arneis is a grape that grows well in sandier soils as it is easier for the grapes roots to grow in these types of soils and does not stress the vines to much. The Bricco dell Ciliegie is mostly made up of sandy soil but has some veins of clay and also limestone which help to give this wine more of its wonderful mineralic characteristics. When we were there Stefano explained to us that we were tasting from their last tank and it was the last bottling they will make for the 2016 vintage.  He said for him the tank that stays the most time in contact with the fine lees makes the wine much more interesting, and more complex. I would have to agree, this was was smooth, notes of stone fruits and pears, with a salty finish.

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I would highly recommend a visit to this wonderful estate and make sure to try their Arneis as well as their Nebbiolo based wines. You can find them at:

http://giovannialmondo.com

Via San Rocco 26 - 12046 Montà (CN)

Visit Turin - Where to Eat Drink and grab a Gelato

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Torino (Turn) is the birthplace for many things, it was the first city to import Chocolate, the creators of the Grissini (bread stick), and the parliament who united Italy. but one thing that when visiting Italy you will notice a very sacred time of the day (between 6 until 8) called Aperitivo. Thanks to Turin this too was the first place to take on this Aperitivo culture. It all started out as Turin is a Theater city and while the people getting out of work rather late, in order for them to make it to the theater in time, they went out for a drink and a small bite just enough to hold them until dinner time. In those days it was common to enjoy a glass of Vermouth, or a cocktail with the base of Vermouth (Negroni, Americano, etc)

With that said here are some great places to have a nice Aperitivo

Caffè Mulassano

Piazza Castello 15

Tel: +39 (0)11 547 990

This is the place where the Aperitivo started. They were also inventors of the Tramezino. My recommendation for this place is to grab a table, order up a nice glass of Vermouth over ice and snack on the classic Tramezino bite size sandwiches.

Rosso Rubino Enoteca Enotavola

Via Madama Cristina 21

Tel: +39 (0)11 650 2183

What could be better than enjoying a glass or a bottle of wine in a WINE SHOP, Nothing!! This place is small and hip and the staff is passionate and knowledgable. They have a crazy amazing selection of bottles to bring home too!

Caffè Torino

Piazza S. Carlo 204

Tel: +39 (0)11 545 118

In Torino there are a lot of historical bars but this one is located in front of the twin churches underneath the historic galleries in Piazza San Carlo. You can take a table outside and enjoy people watching in this historic Piazza.

L’Enoteca

Via Giovanni Amendola 8

Tel: +39 (0)11 440 7291

This place has style and class. Fun Fact: Piemonte is the largest Champagne consumer in Europe outside of Champagne. So if you are having a bubbles craving head over here for a glass and a plate of some of Piemontes finest Prosciutto.

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Snack Street foods

Gofreia Piemontèisa

Via San Tommaso 7

Tel: +39 349 392 6090

Hidden down one of Turin’s little sleep side streets, you have a place who decided to take a traditional country side street food and move it into the big city of Torino. You will never guess what it is. A waffle cooked very thin with a crunch made into a sandwich. I recommend trying the house speciality Gofre della Casa.

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Focacceria Lagrange

Via Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange 11

Tel: +39 (0)11 562 9244

This is a great place to sit outside and watch all the people go by while snacking on your favorite type of Focaccia. If they have the Reco you must give it a try.

Savuré

Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 38

Tel: +39 (0)11 1966 5300

Pasta fresca at its finest. They make all the pasta daily and will fix you up a plate to enjoy at the moment, of if you are on the run you can get the Agnolotti with a ragù to go.

For a great casual meal

Casa del Barolo

Via dei Mille 10

Tel: +39 (0)11 287 6272

Here you have a clean and modern setting of a restaurant with good traditional food and a solid wine list.

Closed Sunday and Monday

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Ristorante Consorzio

Via Monte di Pietà 23

Tel: +39 (0)11 276 7661

This place is a bit more hip and young, where you can taste some not so familiar local Piemontese grape varieties by the glass. Being a part of Slow Food they are very concious of the food products they are using but are not afraid to be a bit creative.

Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday all day

Osteria al Tagliere

Via Corte d’Appello 6

Tel: +39 (0)11 436 9551

You come here for some great traditional rustic no fuss dishes. The food here will never disappoint and you might get lucky to be serenaded with some traditional Piemontese music during your meal.

Closed Monday and lunch time during the week, Saturday and Sunday they offer lunch and dinner services.

*Save room for dessert and other sweet things!

Gelato

Mara dei Boschi

Via Claudio Luigi Berthollet

Tel: +39 (0)11 076 9557

I do not get up to Torino as much as I would like but to curve my craving for this gelato place I am lucky they have a sister store in Alba. The best flavors to get are zenzero (ginger) and strawberry or the Marotto (gianduja).

Ottimo Gelateria

Corso Stati Uniti 6/c

Tel: +39 (0)11 1950 4221

I don’t need to say to much as the name says it all, but this gelateria was voted the best gelateria in Torino by receiving 3 cones from Gambero Rosso

Gelateria Alberto Marchetti

Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 24 bis

Tel: +39 (0)11 839 0879

Artisanal and delicious the creamy scoops that are made fresh daily are worth a visit in itself. Some flavors to try are the Pistachio, Hazelnut, and the Torrone.

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As I keep going on and on about how Turin was the first of many places to do things or to invent things, because the kingdom of Savoy was very much interested in experimenting with foreign products they were the first city in Europe to start to work with chocolate. 

A fun little fact: when one of the many wars during the time of Napoleon, had blocked the Savoy Kingdom’s chocolate importation the city of Turin's chocolateers were in need of finding a way to use less of this precious product. They were forced to create something that would help to stretch out the dwindling chocolate supply. Luckily Piemonte is also famous for the quality of its Hazelnuts and close by to Turin you have the heavily planted slopes in the Roero where some of the worlds best and most flavorful hazelnuts grow. The Nocciola tonda Gentile they are called are noted for their smaller nut and rich flavor. Chocolate + Hazelnuts, from these two ingredients in 1886 Gianduja was born. Today many different chocolate places make these wonderful little pointed ingot shaped treats. Some not to pass up.

Baratti Milano

Piazza Castello 27/29

Located in the historic galleria Subalpina building built in the late 19th century you will be very impressed by how amazing this structure is. If you have some time you wohsl stop to have a coffee and admire one of the oldest most prestigious caffè houses Torino has to offer.

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Guido Castagna

Maria Vittoria 27/C

A small artisanal chocolate producer who offers an in house tasting where you are able to go through a bit of their different types of chocolates so you know which ones you would like to buy.

Guido Gobino

Via Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange 1

Great quality chocolates and a bit more well known in the area of Piemonte. Here you can stop in when you would like and try their different chocolates they have for sale that day or if you would like you can order up a tasting where they will prepare and array of different flavors and chocolate types.

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If you need some more great gelato places in the area of Turin or surrounding towns you can check out my post about my Top 10 Gelato places in Piemonte

If you would like to plan a small vacation in the Torino area I consider checking out a guest post from Patty with her Three day stay in Turin for Foodies

Someone pinch me, my visit to Giacomo Conterno

Ok I am not the type of girl who asks for jewelry or a designer name bags for Christmas, although its not a bad thought.  However if you are going to spend money on me I much rather it be in wine.  And thus every year my only Christmas wish is some bottles of Giacomo Conterno Barolo to be waiting for me under the tree.  Honestly my favorite wine shop who knows me so well, order it specially for my Christmas gift because they know my husband will be there like every year to buy for me to place under the tree. These bottles mind you only come out on very rare occasions, and if I have the possibility to drink them myself we can safely say I won’t waste a drop.  For many years Giacomo Conterno has been one if not the one, my most favorite producer. I fell in love with Nebbiolo when I tasted one of their Barolo Cascina Francia.

So after much courage to meet the man responsible for such amazing (for me) life changing wines, I piggybacked on a visit to Conterno with some friends, who were very gracious to support by almost embarrassing awe. We arrive to a beautiful modern looking structure, where we were greeted with wonderful hospitality and asked to make ourselves comfortable in their waiting room. We were escorted to this cubical like room with huge windows and a wonderful panoramic view, where there were plenty of couches and comfortable seats to be had. We sat there waiting anxiously sipping some some sparking water before being invited into the cellar.

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I have never been so nervous in my life, I don’t know I guess its like meeting your favorite rock star, or movie star.  I felt star struck, I am such a geek. The secretary Stephanie was very professional and sweet.  She took us to their tasting room where we before going into the cellar she had explained to us about their vineyards and some of the history of the estate.  Giacomo Conterno’s first vineyard purchase was a large piece in the vineyard Cascina Francia, a vineyard located in Serralunga d’Alba. This vineyard is prime Realestate, great Southern facing exposure and about 400 meters above sea level making this area perfect for Nebbiolo grapes. In Serralunga d’Alba you have the oldest soil structure of the Barolo area. Where the hills from Treiso, to Castagnole Falletto/Serralunga d’Alba hills and then down to the Langhe Dogliese, reach a ripe old age of over 14 million years coming from the Serrafallian age.  This was the first point of land when the Padano Sea was moving out to later become the Mediterranean Sea. This land formation is made mostly out of Lequio which is seen as alternating layers of sand, sandstone and marl.  As a matter of fact we were talking about the Francia soil being a red sand and a brownish marl, this helps to give the Nebbiolo its complexity and muscle.

They recently have had the opportunity to purchase a few hectare in a vineyard very close to the Francia vineyard, called Cerretta. They purchased this vineyard in 2008 and at the beginning have only made Barbera d’Alba and Langhe Nebbiolo, with the hopes to make a Barolo when the time is right.  Roberto said that at the beginning when they first started to work the land, it takes a few years until you can see the difference in hand on the vines.  Its not that the grapes were of poor quality and they certainly could make a stunning Barolo but like many new things it takes some time to break in.  So for the first few years only a Langhe Nebbiolo would be made from this vineyard.  Now you are able to find on the market a Barolo as well from the Cerretta vineyard.  What I like about the Cerrettais it has so much elegance and red fruit and a sweeter Nebbiolo tannin where the Francia has all the muscle and power.

We had the chance to taste out of barrel and tasted Barbera d’Alba from Ceretta and Francia 2016, amazing, stunning vintage.  Barbera loves the heat and in ’16 it was a hot and dry vintage so these two Barbera were just big juicy and very giving. The Barolo we tasted was also from tank and was 2013, a rocking vintage especially for the Nebbiolo. It was a nice summer, warm and sunny days with cool nights and we got rain when it was time so for the Nebbiolo had a great hang time.  Today the 2013’s great structure both powerful with supplant tannins, we did find out that the whole lot of the Francia for the first time will all be made into Monfortino!  Monfortino is their Riserva so this wine will spend a few extra years in the large oak barrels before being released. I guess I am going to have to be very good that year for santa will have to stock up on Monfortino 2013 :)

I brought up the question about organic farming, this seems like a good topic because it is a buzz word for just about everyone.  I was pleasantly surprised by Roberto’s answer, he simply said “apart from my family here at the winery two things are the most important. One is the vineyards and the second are my clients.  The vineyards are the most important thing for my wines, if I don’t bring in the best quality grapes I am not going to get the best results. I do not want to follow a trend to make organic wines if I cannot be completely in control of what is going on in the vineyards, I want to be more than organic or natural.  What we do here is we work the land as we see is best, then when the grapes have finished fermentation and are ready to be transferred into barrels we do an analysis of the wine to see if there are any residues left, every test comes back with zero. By not having any residuals means that there is nothing in the wine.  This is exactly what we want. This test we do is for no one but ourselves to see that what we are using are good for the vines and leaves no residue. This brings me up to another fact, that we will begin to test other products for the vineyards. Products so natural that you can literally drink this stuff. We are working with a team of scientists, as well as some of the professors from the enological schools here in Italy to study these products to see if this will be the future.  You see we are not organic, we are at the next level.”

I cannot say enough that the dedication and passion for precision and perfection were found in every aspect of the cellar.  They produce about 30,000 bottles and every single one of them was personally looked after and taken care of as though there were an only child.  The winery was completely spotless and not one thing was out of place. Not one stain of wine on the floor and the presentation and tasting were nothing but a wonderful explanation of all the hard work that goes into a great bottle of wine. Thank you.

Things to do in Piemonte in winter months.

The idea to come and visit your favorite winemaking region during winter months when tourist season could be at it lull, is a good idea.  There are plenty of Christmas Markets to visit and and also some things to keep in mind while you are visiting. The pro’s to visiting during off season is you will benefit from the off season rates for flights, hotels and car rentals. The cons are because there is a low in tourism many places take advantage of the quite season as of recently there has been more and more movement in this area, so people are closing up shop and going to their favorite island to bask in some sun.

Winter holiday, here in Italy we take our holiday very seriously and holidays to keep in mind are 8 December Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Christmas 25th and the 26th is Boxing Day or the second Christmas day. The first of January is also a national holiday.  Normally during these holidays it will be hard to find places in the restaurants or hard to find a taxi service or driver services as many people will too be celebrating with their families and friends, or they will be just over booked.   Also keep in mind that if any of these holidays fall on on a Tuesday or Thursday most people will take advantage of having a long weekend and plan to do things in another area of Italy.  With this overload of Italians in circulation it will become more difficult to find tables in restaurants, long lines at the ski lift, difficulties also for making appointments in wineries they will become full very fast, and we must not forget about the traffic.  So keep in mind it is best to do a little research beforehand to make sure you are booked where you would like to go, instead of trying to pop into somewhere.

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Weather conditions it is winter here, we don’t tend to get to much snow and the temperature does not drop to often below zero centigrade. But it can and it does. So it is a good idea to bring some winter gloves, a nice warm winter jacket with a hood is a good idea incase you need in a pinch, a hat, a scarf, and a good pair of boots that are comfortable for walking and also are good in the snow.   Also here the cold weather doesn’t get us down.  There are plenty of things to do on the weekends, farmers markets, Christmas markets or festivals that will have you outside walking around.  It isn't uncommon to find many people eating drinking and dancing outside in the winter months.  It actually helps get rid of those cooped up winter blues we sometimes can encounter.

Christmas markets are plentiful here in Northern Italy as well as Germany, Austria, and other European countries.  The Christmas markets are nice, they will typically have some traditional music playing, hot dishes to eat, and one thing to keep an eye out for is the mulled wines “Vin Brûlée” that will help keep you warm and get you in the spirit.  Be careful as most people tend to add a little kick to the wine of either a Brandy or Rum.  Usually the people displaying their wares are artists or crafters if you would like to find something hand made this is usually your best bet.  Most of the items will be Christmas themed like tree ornaments, or cookies and candies, but sometimes you can find wooden products and jewelry, etc.

Some markets worth visiting:

Canale (Roero) every weekend, in the center from the first Saturday in December until the weekend before Christmas there will be different activities and also a market.

Alba (Langhe) Every Saturday Alba hosts a very large market where you can get everything from fresh vegetables, meats, cheese, to Italian made clothing, and household goods. But once a year they host a market dedicated to all things Christmas.  This year it took place on Sunday 18 December.

Torino being the larger city in the area they have a few more things going on than the other parts of Piemonte. Every day starting from the 26th November to the 8 of January they have a Santa Clause Village that is open everyday of the week from 10am until 11pm.  Located in Piazza d’Armi. It offers visits from Santa Clause, ice skating rink, and street food vendors.

You have a more Traditional Christmas market (Torino) open Monday to Friday from noon to 7pm, on Saturday and Sunday 10am till 8pm.  Located in Piazza Borgo Dora 34.  Here they have about 100 vendors, this market is half inside and half outside and there is a large variety of crafts, typical food products, and Christmas ordainments to keep you busy for a few house.  I typically go to this market every year as it has many wonderful things, and if you go on Sunday you can have the added bonus of the Antique market in the near by distance.

The idea of the Christmas market was started in the Germanic countries and to honor the idea in Torino they have an Ital-German market. Located in Piazza Solferino from the 8 November untile the 23 November.  This market embraces the Germanic traditions of Christmas and here you have the ability to taste your way though over 100 different types of beers!

One Christmas market that is very popular in the Langhe\Roero is the Govone market. Located around the Castle of Govone here this market is open weekends and holidays from 10am until 7pm and will run from 19 November until the 26 December.  This market brings in many from all over so be prepared if you don’t find a parking spot right away.  Also there is a wonderful Trattoria right next to the market that is not to miss called Trattoria Pautassi, they make some wonderful traditional dishes and if you are vegetarian have some delicious options as well.

Leave time for lunch.

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In many societies today I hear more and more people talking about how their jobs are so demanding that they only have time to quickly grab something from the kiosk parked right outside their office to bring back to their desk so they can eat while they are working. Fast paced life has people now eating and drinking on the go. Gigantic coffee mug in the car on the way to work, no good. The more convenient this world is becoming the time to escape from the everyday stress is become harder to separate from, great example smart phones. The most important thing people are quickly forgetting is the importance around the dinner table. When there is a meal to share this table will bring people together, this table entices conversations for people to take a few hours out of their day to interact with their friends and families. This table is like an Island away from the stress of everyday, and is quickly being forgotten. This table is something very important to Italian lifestyle and no matter how much the world is changing this Island will always bring people together to enjoy the time spent together, a glass of wine, and something wonderful to eat.

When you come to Piemonte one thing that must be respected is the time for lunch. Your body needs to be replenished, nourished and at lunchtime is the perfect time to do so. Piemonte has a culture of the locals stopping their workday around noon, sometimes a group from work will plan to go to have lunch together at the local Trattoria or Osteria and there they will sit and enjoy until they need to be back to work around 2pm. Typically this lunch will consist of a glass of wine, a starter followed by a plate of homemade pasta. Nothing fancy but just enough time to relax, socialize, and get away from some everyday stress.

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When you come to Piemonte here the home of Slow Food movement, the movement that has helped to preserve some of the food traditions that were in danger of going extinct. You come to a place that understands patience, has less stress, and knows how to enjoy the better things in life. I must admit here in Piedmont you eat very well. We actually say amongst each other that, it is hard to find a place to eat that is not good. With that said some of my favorite dishes from the area are: Vitello Tonnato thinly sliced roast beef with a mayo-tuna sauce. I know this combination sound weird but I swear once you try it you will be craving it when you return back home. Pepperoni ripieni con salsica di Bra, roasted peppers filled with sausage from Bra, the sausage from Bra is a specialty around this area. Made from 100% veal and specially seasoned with spices this sausage is typically eaten raw. Cipiola Ripiena this is a baked in salt whole onion that they take and hollow out add cheese and typically sausage to the onion, mash it all up then put it back into the onion skin. So good. Pasta Agnilotti del Plin a hand pinched small ravioli filled with a mixture of meats and green vegetables. The sauce for these ravioli typically are a butter and sage or the jus from the roasted meat. Tajarin, this is Piemontese for Tagliatele a hand cut pasta made with eggs. Typically for every kilo of flour you use you will need 40 egg yolks for this dough. The sauces for this pasta are either a sausage ragu or butter and freshly shaved white truffle. Yum! The beef here is a special breed called Fassone, that does not tend to get fatty. So you can easily eat it raw or when you sear a steak medium rare you can cut through it like butter.   Just some salt and oil and that’s it. Save room for dessert because when you get a fresh Panna Cotta there really is nothing like it.

While you are here you might as well tuck yourself in for a nice meal, some good company, and of course some excellent wines.  A short list of some of my favorite places to eat the foods I have mentioned earlier are:

Osteria I Rebbi - Monforte d’Alba

Osteria Veglio - La Morra

La Cantinetta – Barolo

Trattoria dei Bercau – Verduno

Osteria dell’Arco – Alba

Degusto – Neive

Ristorante Repubblica di Perno – Monforte d’Alba

Ristorante Casina Collavini – Costigliole d’Asti

You will probably find me at one of these places on my lunch break!

If you would like to make some of these traditional dishes at home you can look at Gianni's cooking blog at DoSomethingGood

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My top 10 Gelato places in Piemonte - Italy

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Some people might call us crazy, but that is just what makes this so fun. We have traveled every centimeter of Piemonte diligently tasting every gelataria that we come across. It was a lot of work, and sometimes a stomachache but we did it. And here are our Top 10 Gelato places in Piemonte - Italy. I am going to be honest Gelato or Ice Cream is one of my favorite things to enjoy. It always has been, as a matter of fact my parents to this day give me a hard time about my love for gelato. As the story goes, on graduation from Kindergarden you had the opportunity to tell the audience of parents what I would like to be when I grow up. The normal things that adults ask kids in hopes to get them ready to make that big decision before they head off to college. As most of the kids would reply “Astronaut, Doctor, or Lawyer” when it was my turn to reach the podium I was one of the last to do so with a last name beginning with W I responded that I would like to make Ice Cream. As it was my favorite childhood memorie. My sister and I would hop in the Van of my father and the three of us would drive over to Haywoods for Mint Chocolate chip, butter pecan, Rocky Road, or Moose Tracks sit outside and enjoy the nice summer days.   That was how I wanted to spend my adult years, bringing joy to families. A few minutes out of the day to enjoy together.

Wanting to bring people together with a smile I have here my list of the Top 10 Gelato places in Piemonte.

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  1. #10. Pepino - Torino, I have to tip my hat for Pepino making gelato since 1884. They are a larger more industrial operation today, which isn’t my norm but, they have mastered their flavors and are a staple here in Torino. So that is why they have made it to the list.

Piazza Carignano 8, Torino (TO)   website

  1. #9. Cremeria dell’Antico Borgo – Mondovi’ Located in the historic center of this beautiful little town for me it has always been a nice pit stop. Don’t be surprised if there is a line to get their gelato as this place is small and busy.

Piazza Maggiore, Mondovi (CN)

  1. #8. Mara dei Boschi – Alba Between Alba and Torino there is a lot of wonderful Gelatarie. This Gelato shop has two locations but the one I visit more often is located in Alba. I typically like to get from them their fruit flavors, they tend to work with more seasonal ingredients and project quite nicely their full flavors.

Via Vittorio Emanuele 17D, Alba (CN)   website

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  1. #7. Conogelato – Torino WHAT Buffalo milk Gelato!! So as it turns out there are also Bufala (the correct name in Italian) here in Piemonte. There is a farm located in the Providence of Torino where they have these wonderful animals and they are not only making milk for this amazing gelato but also cheese. The flavor I recommend trying is Fior di Bufala, they serve this flavor like a soft serve and it is so creamy and delicious, it will pair nicely with Nocciola (hazelnut) or Caramello (caramel). Yum!

Via Cesare Battisti 3, Torino (TO)   website

  1. #6. AgriSAPORE – Pralormo When taking a minute to drive some of the back roads of the Langhe/ Roero you will sometimes be pleasantly surprised when seeing a sign for Artisinal Gelato. There are two great gelato places off the beaten track the next one will be listed as number 5, and it is always nice when you can go and visit the cows then enjoy a scoop of their freshly made gelato! It is good too for people traveling with children as there is plenty of room to run and play. The flavors I recommend trying when there are Miele (honey) and Pasta di Meliga (polenta cookie).

Strada della Franca 5, Pralormo (TO)   website

  1. #5. Agrigelateria San Pe’ – Porino Another off the beaten path gelateria, and honestly I will make the drive to come out to this one. If you find yourself there on a weekend, be prepared for no sitting room and to wait a bit in line for your turn. The flavors that I recommend there are Torrone (a nugat with hazelnuts and honey) or the fruit flavors like Pesche (peach) or Fragole (strawberry). Because here the fruit grows amazing in this area.

Cascina San Pietro 29/A, Porino (TO)   website

  1. [embed]https://www.instagram.com/p/BJXHJ-NBg4h/?taken-by=amandaswineadventures[/embed] #4. Sacchero – Alba If you are a lover of Chocolate this is your heaven. The flavors that they make here are so full of flavor and creamy that I cannot walk by this place without stopping for a bite. Some of my many favorite flavors are; Chocolato (chocolate), Chocolato Pesca (chocolate peach), and Menta (mint). The mint is very rare when they make it, but when they do it is amazing.

Via Vittorio Emanuele 32, Alba (CN)

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  1. #3. Soban – Valenza Another gelataria with a long history of quality and taste. Founded in 1924 today this gelataria is still family run. Being pioneers of Tradition and innovation it is here that I will take a risk with the wilder more creative flavors. Like Parmesan and Balsamic vinegar, or Candied Orange and Saffron. Here I know I am in good hands and every time I go probably being that is a bit of a ride from my house, I will always have a second helping!

Piazza Gramsci 23, Valenza (AL)   website

  1. #2. Gelato I.G.P. – Bra This was a tough choice because there are many places I like to go when I am in Bra, but Gelato D.O.P. I just cannot walk by without stopping. The flavors here are so rich and great examples of the products they use that it is sometimes hard to choose which one. Also I recommend trying their Gelato pops, you won’t be disappointed.

Via Principi di Piemonte 63, Bra (CN)

  1. #1. Berlica – Gallo Grinzane Cavour My ultimate favorite gelato place. If you don’t believe me you can ask the people who work there. I am there almost everyday and never get tiered of the flavors they have to offer. Here the flavor selection is limited to a few key flavors that they do so well it will tickle your taste buds. The ingredients that they use to make these wonderful treats are the highest quality out there and you can tell. The flavors I recommend to try are Licorizia (licorice), Berlica (a chocolate, hazelnut), Menta (mint), Pistacchio (pistachio), Dolce Salato (salted caramel), and basically anything else that they might have at the time. You will think you are in heaven.

Via Garibaldi 123, Frazione Gallo- Grinzane Cavour (CN)   website

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Thinking of Touring Alba? Here are some places not to pass up.

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When taking a minute to drive the hillside roads of the Langhe coming in to the town of Alba Italy, you can see from many vistas along the way, many of the medieval towers that are still standing today. The city of Alba once known as the City of a hundred medieval Towers.  These Towers were built in the 14th and 15th centuries and many of them have been ruined in wars and one in particular was during the attacks of the Barbarians after the fall of the Western Empire.  The city of Alba is now a part of the UNESCO world Heritage and is considered to be the center for the Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards making it the central meeting point for many wonderful things.   Here in Alba you will find the famous White Truffle and once a year during the month of October they host a festival for all things truffle and Alba related.  During this gastronomic festival you can take place at the White truffle auction where the largest White truffle that has been found around the Langhe area will be auctioned off and normally at a very high price.  One other thing not to miss at this festival is the Palio. This race had originated in Medieval times in Siena and has since then made its way to the Asti area. In Asti this race takes place on the third Sunday in September. Alba does things a bit different and uses some Piemontese humor while doing so.  The difference is in Alba they don't have horses they have Donkeys.  Not an animal uncommon to the Langa, but makes a whole lot of fun seeing these guys in a race.

Another wonderful thing about Alba is this is the birthplace of Nutella, the creamy chocolate and hazelnut spread that has made so many childhood memories.  Could also be a nice little treat for adults, too. I know there is always a jar of Nutella in my cabinets at home.  Here in Alba is the Ferrero factory where over 10.000 employees work around the clock to make sure those wonderful little chocolate hazelnut treats get shipped all over the world.  What is wonderful about having the Ferrero factory located in the center of Alba is that about 4 times a week they toast chocolate and that they have to toast so much of it that walking around Alba center you are engulfed with this wonderful chocolaty smell.  It tends to make me a bit hungry.

On Saturday mornings in Alba (Ferrero will be toasting away lots of chocolate) and in the center of the City there will be their weekly farmers market.  This market takes place on the two main streets Via Maestra and Via Cavour and will also be located in a few different Piazzas: Piazza Savona, Piazza Duomo, Piazza San Giovanni, and the Piazza  where the market is located more frequently throughout the week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) is Piazze Senatore Ovaldo Cagnasso. On Saturday the Piazza where I recommend not missing is the Piazza Pertinace: here they have the Mercato di Terra where there are many wonderful local, organic producers from this area and whom have the best quality products by far. Need some hazelnuts, I recommend going there.

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Now we will shift gears to some other fun things to see and do in Alba.

Places to eat!

Piazza Duomo This is a 3 Michelin starred restaurant and is well deserved. In 2016 Chef Enrico Crippa received from the guide The Word’s 50 Best Restaurants received number 17. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. I highly recommend making a reservation for this restaurant if you wish to visit. You can contact them for either lunch or dinner bookings from their website.

Osteria dell’Arco is one of the sister restaurants a part of Slow Food. Here you will eat very good typical Piemontese food. Things not to miss are the Carne Cruda, and the Tajarin with 40 egg yolks. They are typically closed on Sunday and I recommend making a reservation. You can contact them from their website.

Gusto Madre If pizza is what you are craving then I recommend taking a stop here. It is not your everyday pizza experience when you eat at Gusto Madre. Here I recommend getting one of their tasting menu’s so you can try their different takes on their pizza’s. Take not that is not easy to get a reservation here as they are super booked but with some advanced planning it can be made possible. They are closed on Sunday lunch and all day Tuesday, for booking please see their website.

Bove’s here is where the American comes out in me. If you are having a withdrawal from a great Hamburger don’t worry I’ve got you covered. Boves started as a butcher in it’s first life then realized that they understand meat probably more than the average person and decided to reinvent themselves with hip cocktails and a meat based menu. Another place I reccemend making a reservation here’s the link.

Osteria del Vicoletto is a nice quite traditional place that won’t break the bank. The kitchen is simple and delicious. They are located on Via Barter 6 - Alba, Italy and are only open for dinner. You can make a reservation by phone at +39 (0)173 363196.

Things to do and see:

A walk down Via Maestra - Alba, a pedestrian street only where there are many wonderful caffe’s, gelataria, and specialty stores. If you would like to get some local products or a special bottle of wine you will be able to pretty much find everything Piemontese you are looking for.

Duomo di Alba, Cattedrale di San Lorenzo the original structure was to been built in the 5th century and then rebuilt a few times after in the following centuries. When you visit this Catthedrial you can see the layers of history of the several different constructions.

Underground Alba, to visit the original Alba, the Alba Pompeia. You are able to visit the Underground Alba on Saturday and Sunday by reservation only. Typically it is a tour offered in Italian. You can arrive to Alba Underground at Piazza Risorgimento 2 in front of the Tourist office. Tel:+39 339 7349949

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Sitting at a café having a coffee or an aperitivo and watching the people walk by is something to pass some time and is very relaxing.

Thinking to visit the vineyards in Piemonte, Italy? Why wait!!

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There are plenty of things to see and do and who wouldn’t want to take a visit to a Barolo or Barbaresco vineyard?

I mean the wine is what brought me to Piemonte. The finesse of Nebbiolo, the vineyards of Barolo and Barbesco all seemed so magical. I came to visit to see and taste the wines and meet the winemakers. Then I fell in love. One with the rolling hills covered with vineyards in Langa and two with a charming Italian man. (Ladies watch out for those Italians). I came to Piemonte because I was driven by my passion for the wine and the food. I was given the opportunity to work first hand in a vineyard to help out with the year’s production of Nebbiolo to make Barbaresco. I loved it, there was something about working with the grapes and making the wine and talking to people about what I was doing. There were so many visitors who would come to take a winery tour, come to taste the wines. They would want me to take them on the winemaking journey, to tour with them in the winery talking about what is going on, what we were doing and learn something new. The winery tour and vineyard tour was my favorite part, taking a walk on a crisp autumn morning when the vineyard leaves were beginning to change color. You can tell the grape varietal by the color the leaves change “Gianni one day said to me”, as we were taking a walk in one of the vineyards located in the Asti area.

We would wake up early every morning to be greeted in the cellar by a tractor full of grapes ready for the crush. All of these ruby colored grapes filling every single red plastic crate. When you hold up the Nebbiolo grapes to the sun you can see through them the skins of the Nebbiolo take almost a Rose’ color and in light become transparent.   The Nebbiolo is the king of the grapes here in Piemonte and in all of Italy. The essence of Nebbiolo is like no other, it is elegante, complex, and can sometimes be quite powerful. There is no other grape to compare it to. It is also one grape that does not ever show as wonderful when planted outside of it’s Piemontese home. Even in Piemonte the Nebbiolo grape is quite finicky, it really does not like to go too far away. Just like most Italians, their home is beautiful, their culture is wonderful, and it is hard to find another place in the world as wonderful as Italy.

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As the harvest started to come to an end, Gianni and I would take his fast car to the mountains to have a traditional Piemontese mountain meal. We would drive for hours on these windy streets to arrive to a restaurant that looked more like someone’s home and would be welcomed in to have an amazing meal. We would eat Polenta with cheese, braised meats (my favorite was always the wild boar), have a couple of bottles of Piemontese wine and enjoy hours of laughs amongst us as well as the warm and charming mountain people who were feeding us this wonderful meal. We would then finish the meal with some Genepy or some Amaro from the area. Then head off to some quite grassy spot and take a nap. With the wind blowing in our hair and the sounds of the leaves shaking and the slight kiss of the sun amongst our faces. This was heaven.  I will never forget these times, and this was what made understanding the simplicities of life and how it should be.

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It was hard to return to the states, the flat, same old, East Coast that I have always known. Now I knew something different. A new way of life, one for living.

Even to this day when we go to take a trip even if it is a couple of days, I miss the rolling hills of the Langhe. The picturesque views of the Alps, the windy vineyard lined streets of Piemonte. I am glad that I decided to live here, and I love being able to share with people the wonderful experiences that I have had over the years of life in Langhe. I am glad to be able to tour with people to have more wine tour experience in Piemonte. To get to know much better the area’s of Barolo and Barbaresco and to get to know well the people the families who are behind such breathtaking wines. I now get to know their stories, and can see and feel their passion. But not only for just the wine, but the land, the work that goes into it, their family traditions that have been passed down to them over the years. They like the vines are really attached to the soil, the land, the history. It is amazing to find these things, to be able to share these things with my guests, with you, this is what I love.

Looking to Bring Back Wine from Piedmont, Italy or Beyond? Take it back on the plane.

International travelers returning home who want to fly back with a taste of our region can bring back some wine with them. There are a number of practical reasons to do this.

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* You will unavoidably discover small, family run wineries, which don’t export to your part of the world.

* Even if the producer can be found at home, there are specific vintages that may not be available.

* Alcohol shipping laws are restrictive and it is illegal to ship to many countries without an alcohol import license, making the process complicated.

* Shipping costs are high and parting with your wine opens you up to other risks, like temperature fluctuations during transport, long shipping durations, and potential damage.

Transporting wine with you on the plane is a great alternative. Here is what you have to know to do this:

In general, you may take wine on the airplane providing it’s checked (as hold baggage). This is because liquids in carry-on (cabin) luggage are prohibited unless they’re in containers with a capacity of less than 100 ml; hence full size wine bottles are a no-no.

Watch Your Weight

Standard airline weight limits will apply, which is typically 23 kg (50 lbs) per baggage for international travelers. A typical bottle of wine weighs between 1.2 and 1.8 kg (2.5 and 4 lbs). Consider grabbing one of these useful portable luggage scales to know the weight of your suitcase before you head out to the airport and avoid excess baggage fees.

Duty-Free and Duty

Each country has a duty-free limit for alcohol, and may charge duty when you bring more than this duty-free limit. When travelling between two E.U. countries each traveller can take up to 90 litres of wine duty-free if it’s for personal consumption. The U.S., for example, has a duty-free limit of 2 bottles. If you bring more, you technically face duty of only $0.35 to $2 per bottle, but because this is such a small amount duty officers rarely bother to charge you and simply wave you through. See this travelling with wine and alcohol guide and check the details for your country. 

Always Use Protection

It’s critical to ensure that your wine bottles are well protected in your suitcase to avoid any unpleasant surprises at the end of the trip. If wrapping your wine bottles in clothes is not worth the risk, there are a number of products that will give you peace of mind. Remember it’s not just the bottles you may lose if they break, but your suitcase’s contents as well. For one or two bottles there are bottle protection sleeves, some of which use bubble wrap type technology, while others inflate around your bottle to protect them. You can use a Styrofoam bottle protector, which comes in a variety of sizes for different numbers of bottles.

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For those wanting to bring back a larger number of bottles, it’s worth investing in the Lazenne’s Wine Check luggage. This easy-to-transport, airline approved carrier features wheels and a handy strap, and can carry 12 or 15 bottles of wine depending on the model chosen. With the bottles packed, the carrier still meets the airline’s international checked-bag weight limit of 23 kg (50lbs).

You can order the abovementioned wine travel products and more from European online retailer Lazenne. They can ship directly to your hotel throughout Italy and Europe.

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Ressia - the beginning of a Classic!

Barbaresco Wine Tasting

Fabrizio is humble and passionate Barbaresco producer, and anyone who has the chance to meet him in his winery walks away with an unforgettable experience. Working only 5 hectars in the vineyard Canova located in the village of Neive, he grows Moscato, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. Ressia has owned and farmed their land for 3 generations since 1913 and it was when Fabrizio’s time to take over he decided to build a winery and start to make wine. Little by little Fabrizio started to buy equipment, and expand the family’s farmhouse for the winery. [embed]https://www.instagram.com/p/BFYxvKqIdWZ/?taken-by=amandaswineadventures[/embed]

2015 Evien Bianco: a white wine from Moscato that undergoes a maceration of 2 days before fermentation starts, then 70% is aged in Austrian acacia while the rest remains in steel. Fresh, floral, aromatic, light body and great acidity.

2013 Evien Serie Oro: This wine is Moscato taken from a special selection in the vineyard that will then be aged in barrel for 2 years. Much bigger on the pallet, orange peel, floral, tropical fruits. Has the potential to age.

 

2013 Barbera d’Alba Superiore: 2 years in Botticella (the staves are French oak, and the heads are Slavonian oak). The Slavonian oak helps the fruit, more cherry notes raspberry, where the French helps to make the wine more round.

2012 Barbera d’Alba Superiore: round, sweet, red fruits, floral

2010 Barbera d’Albal Superiore: complex, red fruits, full on the pallet a really beautiful wine

2008 Barbera d’Alba Superiore: black fruit, vanilla, very smooth, rich

2004 Barbera d’Alba Canova: this wine is only aged in stainless steel. Typically when made this way the fruit and acidity is bright and lively. Typically a wine not for aging too long. Here the wine showed notes of cocoa, chestnut honey, bright acidity and a long finish. I am always impressed to see a Barbera of this style age so wonderfully.

 

2013 Barbaresco Canova: for Ressia’s Barbaresco will stay 26 months in Botticelle before it will be bottled. Fresh fruit, elegant, floral, Strawberries, smooth elegant tannins, rich and velvety.

2012 Barbaresco Canova: classic Nebbiolo, cherries, dried rose, fennel, and currants

2010 Barbareco Canova: red fruits, wild sage, herbs, and absolutely beautiful, long finish with silky tannins.

2009 Barbaresco Canova: great example of 2009, nervous tannins.

2008 Barbaresco Canova: classic fruit, fresh, sweeter tannin

2006 Barbaresco Canova: cherry Jell-o, chocolate, tannins are still hard

2005 Barbersco Canova Riserva Oro: this was the first vintage a Riserva for this house was made. Tobacco, chocolate, tea, blackberries, a full mouth feel, wonderful long finish.

 

I am very happy that I had the opportunity to taste through this wonderful lineup of great wines. I feel that Ressia has a wonderful representation of the fruit, the vineyard and the vintage. The wines are clean and expressive and have shown wonderfully a decade of wonderful wines. Since they make a very small amount of bottles you will not find Ressia everywhere so it is my suggestion the next time you are in Piemonte to stop by for a tasting.

If you would like other things to do while in the area of Barbaresco you can visit my blog here.

La festa del Ruché – Castagnole Monferrato

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Ruché: a grape varietal found today in Piedmont, it is believed that this varietal has traveled from France but there is no written documentation of this variety.   Ruché is a varietal typically found today in Castagnole Monferrato and has a very unique and special characteristic, an aromatic red grape varietal. Like most red varietals in Piedmont this varietal was always made into a sweet wine, and it wasn’t until the town priest, Don Giacomo Cauda who in 1964 was the first to make this varietal into a dry wine. Today there are a handful of producers working with this grape making it into a dry aromatic style, and here I have listed some of my favorites from the tasting of 12 producers.

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Bosco 2015 Ruché- right off, I think the bottle was just opened because we arrived early. There were tropical fruits on the nose and pallet and at first it reminded me a lot of Gewurztraminer. After we had made the rounds went back to have a proper glass because we enjoyed it so much and at that point had opened up greatly. Did not have that sweetness at first taste but had good red fruit, floral, showed much more elegantly and a long finish. Could be a bottle my husband and I could enjoy easily.

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Francesco Borgognone 2014 “Vigna del Parroco” – Francesco Borgognone has a close connection with priest Don Giacomo Cauda and today produce their Ruche’ from the same vineyard where the priest made his first dry Ruche’. The impression I got from Francesco was he had a great passion and understanding to this grape and was able to display it in its purity. This wine showed black fruits, violets, and peppery notes. This will be a producer I will visit in the next weeks.

Gatto 2015 Ruché – Gatto is an established family run winery since the 900’s in the area of Castagnole Merferrato, and amongst other wines are producing a wonderful example of Ruche’. The 2015 vintage is going to be a promising one for many different wines here in Piedmont. It is a BIG vintage very giving and really showing off the power of some of the grapes varietals. Here we have full mouth of darker fruit, floral wild rose, violets, and spice with some nice tannins.

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I plan to visit some of these producers and will report how the tastings went, with photos of their gnarly old cellars!