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.

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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