The star of Piedmont is the deep, austere, Barolo, an aged and long ageing Nebbiolo grapes varietal. “Invented” in late 8oo’ and perfected until now, this fine élitistic wine is not easy to appreciate and enjoy. Yet, if you do learn to like it, and get to its deep, and essential flavours, you may become one of those few ones who envision a fine Barolo like a work of art and meditation. A clean, cerebral someone says, meditation wine that could help one to make order and sense of each day of its life. Too much perhaps? well await and see. Barolo is called king of the wines and wine for kings, so let’s approach it with respect and curiosity.
We like to start with Barbera, a smooth grape, that usually gave the more popular, everyday wines, mostly made around Asti, Alba and Casale. Barbera is now quickly improving, and turning into an elegant pleasant wine that we can taste in some in teh beautiful Monferrato hills, where the oldest vineyards and towns are. Next we step to the mythical Langhe, land of Nebbiolo grapes, to state first teh younger, fruity and elegant Nebbiolos, and then eventually the great Barolos, and of course, Barbaresco. Along the way we visit Turin, gourmet capital of Italy, as it was the first Italian capital before.
• Monferrato. Asti, Casale. Barbera, Freisa, Ruché wines
• Valle del Belbo. Canelli, underground fine Spumante cellars
• Turin. Royal Palace, shopping, chocolate, Eataly tastings
• Barbaresco, Neive. Land and cellars of Barbaresco
• Barolo. Grinzane, Verduno, kings castles, wines and vineyards
• La Morra, Monforte. Top estates, star winemakers
Our Piedmont experience starts smoothly in Monferrato hills, where the oldest twons, castles and vineyards are, between Casale and Asti. We taste Barbera, and Freisa, Ruché and Grignolino, less famous wines, that prepare our palate, like in a well-done, extended wine tasting, to get ready for the bigger wines later. For a break, a short passage in the Belbo valley, to visit teh largest undergroud cellars, takes us in the home of one of teh finest Italian spumante wines, Asti spumante, the good ones.
We are, eventually in teh Langhe hills. A french proverbe says that “good drinkers to make good wines”, in this case teh best wines were made by, and for the court of the “Savoia” dinasty, that ruled Piedmont first, and conquered Italy. They could afford and encouraged the making of the best wines. Langhe, made top wines for the tables of the King, of the noble landowners, after which many famous bottles are still named today.
The wine to beat and teh example at the same time was Burgundy, another varietal wine just across the Alps. Barolo, first of all: deep, exclusive, long-ageing (but don’t age it too long). Its story really identifies with the birth of Italy as a modern, unified country. Barbaresco, then, the star of the a recent, outstanding quality jump.
In addition, we taste,Dolcetto, Roero, and more wines, which will be pleasant extras, and surprises during our tour. The Langhe include several towns, with distinct terroirs: Grinzane, Barolo, Monforte, Serralunga, Castiglion Falletto, La Morra, Neive, and Barbaresco itself. The excellence, in each of them, reveals in particular “vigne” and “sorì”, where exposure, microclimate, soil, and dedicated work coexist, and conspire to extract the deep, well balanced, mindblowing at times, wines which will make your trip here a memorable one. “Nebbiolo” is the local grape from which all the local reds originate. Nebbiolo is a wine too: fresh, medium bodied at its best, and affordable. Nebbiolo is a “must”, that you should taste first, visit regularly, to get to know its fruit, its perfume, its young character, as the best preparation to the bouquet, and punch of Barolo or Barbaresco, and to enjoy it in all its depth and complexity.
Turin, where we can spend a day if you wish, is the place to enjoy art, architecture and cuisine. The Alps, and the Appennines, protecting cities and farmland from every side: Piedmont has all what it needs. It was a free state, in fact, since the Crusaders times. It preserves an extensive heritage of historical cities, castles, old traditions, and most corteous lifestyle. Close to France, Switzerland, and to the Ligurian, and the French Rivieras, it blends the best of north and south in stimulating, elegant, and balanced ways.
Its latest celebrity, in addition, is linked with the fine cuisine, besides than to the wines. Slowfood, Terra Madre, Cheese, and EatItaly, defined it as a world sanctuary of the local, non globalized cuisines, and of the traditional specialties in any part of the world. To any wine lover, and foodie it’s already enough, yet there is much, for anybody, to take a plane, come over and join our tour.
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