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

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.

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.

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.

The Harvest Report 2012 - Should I stay or should I go??

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Harvest work didn't scare me away as now it is my first official year here in Piedmont. I came in 2011 to work harvest but had arrived in the end of August. In 2012 I was here during the summer months and got to see the year build up. The vintage 2012 was a big year for me I got married, I moved out of the country, and I got my first foreign speaking job. Mind you I did not speak very good Italian but it was helpful when finding a job that my English is pretty good. I had in mind to work in a tasting room tasting and educating guests on Piedmont and even more on Barolo and Barbaresco. My first job-seeking stop was a hit, I drove up the steep driveway to Brezza knocked on the office door and luckily there was Enzo Brezza in the office, by himself, and not on the phone (nor did the phone ring during our meeting). In my super broken Italian I asked if he was looking for some help in the tasting room and he kindly invited me in to the office and then for a tour in the cellar. At the end of his explanations of the winery he asked me if I could start the day after. Of course I agreed. I went home super pumped, and so it began.

That summer as I remember it, in Neive it was super hot during the day the temperature was between 35-40, I remember like it was yesterday I was wearing my blue dress talking to my mom on the phone telling her that I have never been so hot in my life I was suffocating.   Then September came finally, and so did the rain. It hailed a few times in Barolo damaging a good amount of the fruit in some of our vineyards. But the rain never seemed to halt. I remember Enzo pacing back and forth in the office rubbing his head every time he walked toward the window and saw that it was still raining.   Finiamo questa vendemmia, mai. “We will never finish this harvest”, he would say in a worried tone to me. “We cannot harvest during the rain, we need to wait at least a day for the grapes to dry off before we can start to harvest, and if this rain does not stop and the sun does not come out we could also have problems with mold.” The sun did not come out, the rain did not stop, and every once in a while we would have a surprise of hail. In the end we did finish. We finished the harvest late.

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We fermented and kept separate our vineyards of Barolo and had aged them like we normally would. Enzo would come into the office every once in a while after tasting the barrels and would say “I don’t know if we are going to make cru Barolo for this vintage I might just blend the vineyards together and make a Classic Barolo.” So we waited until August 2015 when we decided to bottle. Normally before we bottle Enzo will set up numbered glasses for me to taste and give him my opinion. When I started to taste through the 2012 I was completely blown away by the elegance and the sweet Nebbiolo fruit that hit my tongue. At the end the Nebbiolo in this vintage turned out to be spectacular, power with elegance and a real great expression of the terrior, tasting the lineup today you really get a feeling of a classic vintage a bit more of the sensations of a cooler year. I see a great potential for these wines and I think that they will have the age ability of the 2010’s but will be able to be enjoyed younger, thanks to that great fruit.

Enjoy!

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Giuseppe Cortese - Elegance in Rabajà

Giuseppe Cortese Rabajà

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Giusepps Cortese as far as I can remember has always had a good name.  It has been recently that I have been taking more notice to the exceptional quality and dangerous drinkability of these wines. On several occasions both the judging panel and I have been completely wowed by how amazing these wines are showing.

The story goes that from the mid 1800’s the Cortese family has been farming the land in the vineyard Rabajà growing grapes to sell off to other wine producers. During that time they did not have the means to make wine themselves. It was in 1971 when Giuseppe decided to produce wine himself from his high quality grapes. The winery is run today by Giuseppe’s children Pier Carlo, Tiziana, and the gentleman I see quite often Gabriele, but it turns out you sometimes will still find Giuseppe working in the vineyards.

The vineyard Rabajà is located right in the heart of Barbaresco, with it’s calcareous soil and south western exposure is a great place for the difficult Nebbiolo grape too grow. There are a few key producers who have holdings in this wonderful vineyard and we will talk about those later on.

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The most recent wine that I have tasted was the Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà 2008.  Their reserva’s go above and beyond the minimal ageing requirements for Barbaresco Riserva. They age their reserva’s for 3 years and 3 months in barrel and then another 3 years minimum in bottle. So when the wine is released it is almost ready to be consumed. Nebbiolo likes about 3 to 5 years in bottle before consumption. This 2008 was showing amazingly, I really enjoy the friendliness of the 2008 vintage. It has a sweet tannin and great fruit, fresh red berries, sweet tobacco, and some candied orange peel. The finish was long and the tannins were just lovely. When a Nebbiolo wine shows like this for me it is my favorite, it’s like heaven.

A few months before now I went to have an aperitivo with a good friend and we just so happened to see a bottle of their 2004 Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà and we said, why not? I can tell you that bottle between the two of us did not last too long. I might be sounding a bit like a lush but when a wine is really good even for the people who don’t like to drink too much, it drinks quite quickly. It was a complete painting of how the 2004 vintage turned out. How the vineyards basked in the perfect weather conditions the slight breeze on a foggy morning in the autum, all of this was present in the glass. Sweet tobacco, violets, and autumn undergrowth.

Visiting Piedmont the Rough Guide

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First things first! You must realize that there is so much to see and do in Piedmont that it could literally take a lifetime to see, eat, drink, and do it all. From the history, to the food, and the wine (I’m talking like hundreds if not thousands of wineries to visit and the amount of great restaurants is endless. I mean I have been here for 5 years and still have a list a mile long.) It can be daunting and if you are in a rush to see and do as much as humanly possible I would consider looking into hiring a private guide.

This is good, why?

  1. Having a driver for the day who knows the area, this way you can relax, enjoy, and maybe eat and drink a little more than if you were driving.

  2. Someone who will be able to give you an full day education of the history, the traditional foods and the culture

  3. Someone who will can give you the breakdown between the beloved Barolo and Barbaresco regions

  4. English is seldom spoken here so to have someone who speaks English and can communicate with the locals for you is a big help.

  5. If you are planning to buy wine at the wineries and Enoteche your guide will be able to help you with shipping the wine back home for you.

If you are a wine lover and coming to explore the Nebbiolo grape I would consider spending at least one day to visit the region Barbaresco and at least one if not two days in Barolo. Make sure to do some homework and chose a few wineries beforehand to visit from a couple of the different towns. Keep in mind not to pack tight you schedule and to leave plenty of time in-between to take pictures, getting lost, and if you are really jiving with the winemaker that the tasting might take longer than anticipated. Like they might invite you to have lunch at their house. With that said normally a winery visit is about 1.5 hours or longer and no one is open during the sacred hours of lunch (noon till 2pm). One thing that is very important is to make sure that you make a reservation for your visit ahead of time. In Piedmont almost all of the wineries are small family run, and more often than not are located in their home. They want to have visitors and love when you come from all over the world to visit but respect and etiquette is important.  Some do’s and don’t: Do taste all the wines they would like to show you. Don’t say no I only want to taste this. You never know you might like more the wine you were going to pass on. Do ask if there is a tasting fee. A lot of wineries are starting to ask a fee to help with the costs of the bottles being opened. However a lot of places will wave that fee if wine is purchased, it’s a good excuse to bring home some bottles. If you like a wine and would like to retest a wine: Do ask for another taste. Don’t pick up the bottle and pour yourself.

Some recommendations of places I have visited and have found to be very accommodating and interesting. In the village of Barbaresco a visit at the historical Produttori del Barbaresco. This winery is important because it is one of the oldest running cooperatives in this area.

In Neive the neighboring town to Barbaresco and the largest producing area in the DOC I would recommend to take a visit a Pier Busso located in the heart of the Albesani vineyard. Great people and even better wines!

If you have time for a visit to Treiso where in my opinion the views from this village on a clear day are the most spectacular, have a visit a Ca’ del Baio another slam-dunk with the wines.

Now when we start to talk about Barolo a whole lot of things have just got that much more complicated. I know right. Barolo the king of wines, the wine for kings this phrase originated from the king of Savoia Vittorio Emmanuele II who just loved his glass of Barolo. Now I recommend in order to get the most out of Barolo you need at least 2 days to explore the 11 villages that make up this magical place.

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If you just have time for the greatest hits, the must visit villages are Serralunga d’Alba, this range of hills makes up an era of soil structure dating back over 10 million years. What this means, it is the oldest soil structure that makes up the Barolo area. This soil structure makes the wines from this area very complex, more tannic, and better for aging. A winery I recommend to visit Pira Luigi typically how they start their tour is on their balcony overlooking their 3 main vineyards Vigna Marenca, Vign Arionda, and Vigna Margheria. This is good to be able to see the different exposures talk about the minor differences in the soil and the microclimates.

Monforte d’Alba a majority of the more famous wineries come from this little hill top village. Monforte is not the highest area in Barolo but it is the steepest incline. A must visit winery is Conterno Fantino located in the Ginestra vineyard, right on the top. The view from the tasting room is breath taking; also the winery is really something to see.

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In Barolo you are in the heart of the Barolo area and some of the wineries here are the oldest. Barolo is where you really want to visit one of the traditionalists and one that still today remains the last of the Mohicans is Bartolo Mascarello Maria Teresa is an absolutely passionate and respectful of her family traditions and the great wines that make Barolo what it is today. Here you will be able to really see the original side to Barolo.

Then there is La Morra the highest area in Barolo I highly recommend to visit this town last because if you go to the top of the village there is a view point and a map that shows all the towns you have visited in both Barolo, Barbaresco and some of Roero. The winery to visit would be Elio Altare. This visit with his daughter Silvia will be completely different to the traditional style Baroloistas. Elio is the mind behind the modernist movement here in the Langhe, and the story that his daughter Silvia tells is just captivating. Silvia has some pretty big shoes to fill but I think she is doing a great job, her energy and enthusiasm for what she is doing you can really see in the wines they are outstanding and the whole visit is just a great experience.

If you need any other pointers or help planning your trip please feel free to contact me.  Buon viaggio!

La Spinetta does it Again

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Barbaresco 2012 Valeirano

This was the other most talked about wine of the night Christmas Eve. La Spinetta as a winery has a very interesting history (more to come). Giorgio Rivetti was one of the founding fathers for the “modernist movement” here in the Langhe region. There was a gang of youngsters in Langhe who were thinking of bigger and better things to happen within these two regions Barolo and Barbaresco. They were young and restless, they traveled all over the world to learn the techniques from other wine regions to then bring back to the Langa and break the tradition of wine making and the way people look at Nebbiolo today.

I must say in my experience with La Spinetta their wines have always been strong, brooding, and powerful just like their label (the rhinoceros). A wine you would typically want to give some time. However I was surprised and yes I happily had another glass of the 2012. There was so much finesse, fruit, silky tanning that this wine was almost gulp able. And who doesn’t want a wine that good? I am very much looking forward to trying the other 2012 cru’s.

Valeirano for me and also almost all of the wine making team at La Spinetta is the favorite of the single vineyards. Located in Treiso (one of the 4 villages of Barbaresco) and not so well known, Treiso has the highest altitude in the area and the soil in Treiso can range from an iron rich red clay to calcareous soils, making for much more structure, body, and force.