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

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.

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!

Cascina Castlèt - History Tradition Innovation

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In the small town of Costignole Asti in the Asti Monfferato hills following along a winding street surrounded by vineyards you will find the farmhouse of Cascina Castlèt.   A family that holds records dating back to the XII century. What once was the house that the family Borio called home they have now transformed it into a fully operating cellar.  Cascina Castlèt has managed to balance very nicely tradition with modern, both in the style of the cellar and expressions of their wines.

Mariuccia was and still is ahead of her time, when the winery was handed down to her by her farther in 1970 she was young and determined. Working with Giacomo Bersanetti she recreated her first modern label for the wine Passum in 1983, a Barbera that is treated kind of like an Amarone. Once the grapes are harvested they are placed into small shallow baskets and left to dry. The first part of this drying process takes place in a room with dehumidifiers and after a few weeks the wine is then moved to the attic where the heat from the sun and the dryness of the air will complete this process.

With other innovations and a will to keep tradition alive at Cascina Castlèt has something very special and very rare amongst them. A grape varietal that was commonly found in the Asti and Canelli areas, today Cascina Castlèt is the only remaining producer of this varietal. How they make this wine is also quite interesting because this varietal is very close to Nebbiolo it is the last varietal to come in the cellar and usually they have to harvest it before it is ready. They had mentioned that if they waited for full ripeness it could be as late as end of November/December. So what they do is the same process of the Passum wine they dry the grapes so that way it gives the skins and stems time to mature. This wine is not sweet and also it is not high in alcohol. When I tasted this wine vintage 2011 I got on the nose strawberry fruit, pink peppercorns, and some tobacco leaves. In the pallet this wine is assertive, a bit dusty feeling, the tannins are pretty rustic, I did have the same flavors in the pallet as the nose and the finish was long. This wine for me would be great on a cold day with a nice stew or braised meat.

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Now for my little guilty pleasure, I love sparkling Barbera! If I had a t-shirt that said it I would wear it. It is our wine that reminds me a bit of Lambrusco. Goj is the name of the wine and it is coming from the Piemonteìs dialect meaning a joyful moment, and this is exactly what it does for me. Light, fresh, and refreshing, this wine is better off with a few hours in the fridge before serving and goes excellent with BBQ, or even pizza. If you can get your hands on a bottle I recommend giving it a try.

Tocca te Silvia Altare di Cantina Elio Altare

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Elio Altare 2006 Barolo Classico and the Barolo 2009 Cerretta

Elio Altare is a radical. He woke up one day with an idea to change the name and idea of Barolo once and for all, and well, he did. Barolo used to be known well it used to be not so well known or not known at all in the 1950’s, 60’s, until the mid to late 70’s early 80’s. Elio understood that there was something special about the Nebbiolo grape and something could be wonderful coming out of the Barolo wines. He one day packed up his bags and headed off in his (what is today) vintage Fiat 500, that was not in the best condition at the time.   His direction was France, Burgundy. After a long trip Elio finally arrives at a winery that he was familiar with. Elio parks next to the bright red Porsche and proceeds to the door to ask to have a tasting. A gentleman answers with a suitcase in hand, “Can I help you?” He asks. Elio “I would like to know if I could come to have a tour of the winery?” The reply from the Burundian winemaker was “we are closed, it’s Friday afternoon and I have my Porsche parked outside ready to go to Nice where I plan to spend the weekend on my boat. “ After hearing this Elio was devastated, but also made him think if this winemaker can have a Porsche and a boat why can’t I?

After this trip he headed home to clean things up a bit. His idea was to modernize the winery to use barrique barrels instead of large botti. To ferment in stainless steel instead of wooden fermenters. To have the winery be sterile and not a mix of a chicken coop, tractor garage and ageing room.  In the middle of the night he would head out to the vineyards where he would for the first time in this area begin to cut off certain bunches of grapes to ensure that the ones hanging would ripen better and have more concentration. This today is called green harvest and is practiced in almost every winery. He would talk about his ideas to his friends and classmates and from this started a gang of modernists called today the Barolo Boys.

Since the year 2000 Elio’s daughter Silvia has been looking after the winery. I think today she has gained full responsibility of the winery as he has a few other projects he has been looking after. I think that Silvia has some big shoes to fill, and I think that she is doing a great job. She is charming, charismatic, and full of passion and excitement for what she is producing. If you are in the area or if she is in your area you should really go to visit her and chat a bit.

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I recently had the chance to work beside Silvia at a tasting in Trieste. It is funny because working in a winery really the only time we get to see our neighbors is when we attend tasting events. So I tasted her line up, the 2011 Barolo I have to tell you a lot of the 11’s are drinking great now and this was one of them. Fresh, fruity, elegant, with soft ripe tannins, this bottle would not last long in my house.

The 2009 Barolo Cerretta, this is coming from a vineyard located in Serralunga d’Alba. An area known to make stronger wines, on this wine I got a lot of darker fruits, tobacco, and even truffles. The tannins were well intergraded and they had a bit more presence than the 2011. Which is good because I like a lot the tannins I have tasted in the 2009’s, they are a bit more nervous.

Lastly was the Barolo 2006 Classico, which is a blend of three communes in Barolo. This one rocked the house and could have been my overall favorite from the whole tasting! This 2006 showed very young for being 10 years, it had all the classic Nebbiolo nuances, the red cherries, dried rose pedals, leather, tar, and almond oil. The tannins are soft and elegant and displays great this important classic vintage.

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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.

Malvira’ Roero 2004 Superiore Trinita’

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Thanks to the great reputation Malvira’ has given to the Roero region. Today we are going to talk a little bit about a region not so well known. Roero is the region located on the left side of the river Tanaro where the Langhe is on the right. As history has it the Roero used to be more famous for it’s fruit and nut production than its wines. Here the soil is much younger than the Langhe and as a matter of fact when the Langhe was under water about 10 million years ago Roero was its sandy beach. Today things have changed and tasting some of the Malvira’ wines you understand the importance Roero plays not only for the white grape Arneis but also for the Nebbiolo grape.

Malvira’ is a 3 generation family run winery located in Canale the heart of Roero. The two brothers Massimo and Roberto are the main force behind the Malvira’ winery and are doing a fantastic job. They have the winery, a restaurant, and a hotel all nestled in their vineyards. Their vineyards Trinita’ is composed of 14 hectare facing south southwest, of which they grown several different grape varietals. The vineyard name has derived from a small church located on the property SS. Trinita’.

The vintage 2004 for many critics, enthusiasts, and journalists was a life-changing vintage. Very “classic” a wine that is best to be aged. However after talking with Massimo about the vintage he had mentioned that in the Roero a lot of their vineyards were struck by hail all except the Trinita’. And a relief at that, this wine was wonderful, it had a lot of elegance to it the tannins from this wine remained soft and subtle. There were the classic notes of Nebbiolo fresh red cherries, licorice, and mint. This wine for me was showing wonderful but also said that it could age another 10 years easily. If you have not had the chance to taste a Nebbiolo from Roero I highly recommend doing so. Also a note: that the Roero wines you can drink a bit younger because that sandy soils help to make more elegant right from the start. Enjoy!

La Caudrina and the return of Asti Spumante

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La Selvatica Asti Spumante

I possibly cannot stress as to how important the grape Moscato is. I mean in Italy is one of the oldest varietals, in Piedmont alone has been growing since the 1300’s, and also they have discovered some of its mutations include Chardonnay and Chasselas. Pretty cool huh? They have also found that the molecules in Moscato are responsible for the aromas and flavors that you will also find in Pineapple, honey, and sage.

On to taste some Moscato, come on don’t make that face. Living in Piemonte where it is very important to finish a meal with Moscato, I now have really come to appreciate this wine/grape. It is amazing how the aromatics of Moscato when you eat the grape and taste then the semi sweet sparking wines from Asti (Moscato d’Asti or Asti Spumante) you understand exactly how wonderful this grape varietal really is. Even the grappa made from Moscato is much more enjoyable thanks to these aromatics.

The Dogliotti family two generations of wine making but have been Moscato farmers for many more generations, are the kindest, most generous, and loudest people that I know. They are real Piedmontiés. And the wines that they make and the grapes that the family harvests are an important piece of Piedmont history and culture. I have been tasting a lot of Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti around these parts and I cannot say enough that hands down my favorite wines are from La Caudrina. Every year they have such a wonderful expression of the fruit, the acidity is bright and the wine is dangerously gulpable. Good thing it only has a max of 7% alcohol!

La Selvatica is taking it’s name from “the wild” would be it’s direct translation. They came up with this name for the wine because there once was an abandond cascina where their winery is today. This cascina had “wild” moscato growing all around it. By wild could be that it looked like it was a jungle because it was coming from a vineyard that had been abandoned. The woman on the label is one of Romano Levi's drawings (La donna selvatica).  I will talk about him and his importance another day.

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Here I come Fratelli Alessandria

Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga “Speziale” 2014

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I have driven by this winery many times. It is located in the heart of the town Verduno, but I have never stopped by. This year it will be on my “to do” list. After having done a little bit of research on this winery it seems as thought they have been making wine since the 19th century and have been making it well, so well that they have received two medals one from King Carlo Alberto and the other from Count Camillo Benso from Cavour. This says a lot because one: the King Carlo Alberto loved his Nebbiolo and Barolo but most of what he drank as the story goes, was wine from the town Barolo given to him from the Marchesa (a female Nobile Giulia Falletti di Barolo who was very passionate about her Nebbiolo so much so that she gave the name Barolo to this wine). So the fact that Carlo Alberto was also enjoying Barolo from Verduno is also pretty good. Another thing is that the King every once in a while enjoyed a glass of Pelaverga.

Pelaverga has two different varietals one which is believed to be the original varietal grown in the north around Torino (Saluzzo) is called Pelaverga Grosso. As you can imagine the berries of this varietal are larger with respect to the better-known Pelaverga Piccolo (small). And story has it that the Pelaverga Piccolo was brought to Verduno in the 18th century by Sebastiano Valfre’.   A genetic study has shown that actually these two varietals are not related in any way. I’m thinking because both varietals have similar characteristics in the glass and act the same in the vineyards that they were thought to be related.

The Fratelli Alessandria has given to their Pelavera the name Speziale. This in Italian is a play on words it has double meaning bother spices and special or “especially spicy”. This wine took a while to really open up to its full potential but I blame that a bit of the vintage, 2014 was not the easiest year to produce wine. Once it did open up, this wine then showed all the signature characteristics of a Verduno Pelavera. Strawberry fruits, fragrant flowers, and that hint of peppery spice. I am very excited to taste their 2015 once it has been released and get a chance to visit their winery and meet the family.

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!