This is the second post in our Piemonte series. Our first post was Piemonte, a wine lover’s paradise.
I’d just experienced two wonderful days of magical wine and welcoming people. Was that as good as the trip was going to get?
It was time for me to move on from my wonderful stay at Revello Wines and continue on my journey. Another Piemonte breakfast down and I headed out from La Morra to Castiglione Tinella in the very north east of the Langhe sub-region. This area is known for its Moscato and when I mentioned to Enzo Revello that I’d be visiting the producer La Morandina he said that they are famous for it. That’s saying something considering that from here to the North and East is where the famed Moscato D’Asti comes from. But would La Morandina live up to the hype?
I received a warm welcome from the Morando family and after taking a look at the vineyards and touring the winery I headed deep down into the cellar for a tasting. Even though I was here for their one and only Moscato d’Asti, they also have a Chardonnay, which I really enjoyed, and a stack of reds including several Barbera d’Asti, and a Barbaresco (I’ll explain what Barbaresco is about soon). Nothing wrong with any of these at all. And the Moscato d’Asti? Absolutely zipping! Fresh, balanced and not too sweet at all with a lovely gentle fizz. Most enjoyable indeed. I had a strange feeling the freshness of Moscato would pair well with fatty food, like a breakfast fry-up. If only I could test this theory!
Next up was a lunch date with Fabrizio Francone, an absolute gentlemen from the Barbaresco producer Francone Wines in Neive. In my previous article Piemonte, a wine lover’s paradise I explained that Barolo comes from select vineyards around five key villages and is regarded as the King of Nebbiolo, well Barbaresco is regarded is the Queen of Nebbiolo and comes from select vineyards around the villages of Barbaresco, Treiso and Neive. Where Barolo is big and bold, Barbaresco is more gentle and smooth. For this reason, Barbaresco is released a year earlier than Barolo.
Lunch was at the amazing Borgo Vecchio in Neive with its spectacular view across the vineyards to Barbaresco village and its grand tower. The food, totally dazzling, was paired with a spot on selection of wines from Francone. I was brave and even gave the local eels done two ways a go, happily washed down with Fabrizio’s Valsellera Spumante. His 2010 Barbaresco Riserva was perfect with the veal main course. We could have sat here all afternoon but I had local Neive Barbaresco vineyards to see and more delicious wine to sample back at the Francone winery. They produce quite an extensive array of wine, including a Barolo and a Roero, and I couldn’t fault any of it. Some standouts were the Settecento, an alluring blend of Freisa, Nebbiolo and Barbera, the Langhe Nebbiolo, the Roero Arneis and, of course, the 2006 Barbaresco Riserva – a wine that showed how complex good Barbaresco becomes as it ages.
After a great afternoon sampling the joys of Barbaresco I headed back south to the Barolo producer Rivetto Wines and my accommodation for the next two nights – the Rivetto Agriturismo, located between the villages of Sinio and Serralunga. Here I was met by the charismatic Enrico Rivetto and after dropping my gear off we sat down to enjoy his wine. Enrico produces several Barolos and mostly from around the local area, Serralunga, a village known for producing some of the most intense Barolo of all. Intense and complex is the best way to describe Rivetto’s Barolos and if I were to pick a standout it would probably be the Briccolina.
As well as the usual suspects of Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato even Rivetto is making some unique wines like the 100% Nascetta, an indigenous grape that was almost extinct, and a sparkling white wine called ‘Kaskal’ made from Nebbiolo, and often from the same bunch of grapes that go into Barolo. So, in other words, a “bubbly Barolo”! Shhhh, don’t tell the naming officials that’s what I’m calling it – but that’s kinda what it is. The grapes come from the tip of the Nebbiolo bunch and would otherwise have been discarded. Enrico is part of a pioneering group of winemakers trialling this process and as far as I’m concerned it’s a success. A deliciously complex full bodied sparkling white!
I suggested earlier that Moscato might go well with a fry-up for brunch and now I was going to test this out. I headed over to the Roero producer Demarie Wines where I was greeted by Paolo Demarie and his lovely family. Set up on a balcony overlooking the vineyards was the most inviting English breakfast hungry eyes like mine could see. Totally unusual for Italy but Paolo is part of a movement that is promoting Moscato as the perfect wine to have with brunch. It’s low alcohol, it’s bubbly, it’s semi-sweet and it’s fresh. In theory this should compliment the grease of the fry-up. Did it work? Well if I didn’t have more places to visit I would have spent the whole morning on that balcony!
After breakfast we wandered through the Demarie winery and then sat in the spectacularly adorned tasting room, with a beautiful long oak table, where I got to sample a vast array of Paolo’s wines. Both the sparkling and still Roero Aneis were great, some of the best examples of this grape, and lining up the Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero was a great way to experience the way Nebbiolo expresses itself differently in each of these three regions. A great tasting which was all topped off by scoring an awesome Lazenne wine travel bag on the way out that allowed me to get my horde of wines back home!
It was straight from breakfast at Demarie to lunch at Brezza, a restaurant, hotel and winery in Barolo village. Arriving at the winery within the village I was greeted by the lovely Amanda. After a quick chat we decided to jump in her car and go for a drive around the Barolo village vineyards which included a stop off at the Cannubi hill, a set of vineyards famed for producing some of the best Barolo produced.
Back at the winery I was excited when Amanda brought numerous different 2011 vintage Barolo produced by Brezza, that being the Barolo, Sarmassa, Castellero and the Cannubi. All of these were special wine with each of them being so different to each other. I was really starting to get a sense of how each individual Nebbiolo vineyard produces a uniquely charactered Barolo. We were greeted for lunch in the restaurant by Enzo Brezza where the food and aged Barolo was totally divine!
One of things about Barolo village is that you can easily walk from one winery to another and from Brezza I wandered up to visit the famous Chiara Boschis of E.Pira & Figli. Chiara is the only female member of the “Barolo Boys”, a group of renegade winemakers that in the 1980s employed unique winemaking techniques to make tannic Barolo wines more approachable when young. Barolo wasn’t all that popular before the Barolo Boys came along and their legend was turned into a movie by the same name. Chiara played a key role in this transformation and she is an inspiration, especially to wine loving women. Whenever I’d mention Chiara on my trip eyes would lighten up. Chiara had numerous different single vineyard Barolos to taste and they were all magical drops.
What a day! But it wasn’t over yet. I headed back to Rivetto’s to get myself ready for an evening that was mind blowing in ways I could never have imagined…
A big thank you to Valerie Quintanilla from Girls Gotta Drink and Christian Canala from La Cantina for organizing these visits. Valerie’s tour organising skills are exceptional. The wines of La Morandina are imported into Australia by La Cantina.
Author: Conrad Grah