Winetrip to Piemonte 2015
This year our quest for hands-on learning of European grapes, vineyards and wines lead us to the Piemonte region in northern Italy. Joa Vinklubb spent a total of 5 days in the district, and consumed numerous meals and wines. Below we attempt to communicate all impressions from this trip, but it can only be a taste. On the other hand, and like with wine, a taste can tell quite a bit about the total/bottle!
Given that all members enjoy the wines of the Piemonte district, the choice of destination went without much debate. This year we gave the task of putting together a trip to Tenuta Italia (http://tenutaitalia.no). The final program promised a number of exiting visits, activities and impressions.
Being raised by the alarm at 3:45 in the morning is tough, but departing the airport two hour delayed and knowing that we miss our next flight was harder. To make a bad start even worse, we came ahead of our luggage. The luggage joined us within a couple of days, but the whole affair turned out to be bottomless source of jokes between us.
At the airport, Guiseppe, who was to be our designated driver for the whole stay, picked us up. Given our delayed arrival, our first meeting with a wine cellar “Contratto” (http://www.contratto.it/indexenglish.html) was cancelled. Instead we entered our first restaurant in Canelli, and what a restaurant Enoteca Canelli (http://ristoranteenotecacanelli.com). Food, service and the interior were all exquisite.
Our first round of shopping, due to our lost luggage, took place this afternoon. The day progressed rapidly, but not because of our shopping abilities, and before we knew it and even before the lunch was properly digested we ended up at our venue for dinner Il Cortile (http://www.agriturismoilcortile.it/ita_osteria/). The surrounding had the authentic rustic feel of a countryside farm restaurant. The food was great, and the host for the evening understood rapidly our joy for wine and kept it coming! Finally, we ended up at the Rivetto winery/vineyards (http://www.rivetto.it/en/) that was to be our accommodation for four nights.
Still no luggage, but our driver showed up, and we made a trip through the Barolo district. Including a short stop in the village/city of Barolo itself. Eventually we ended up at the Agricole Brandini [http://www.agricolabrandini.com/index.php/en/] close to La Morra. A beautiful vineyard, and following an introduction to the estate we enjoyed a lunch accompanied by their wines. At this point we learned that the different parts of Barolo itself contains different soils, thus the Barolo wines differs in character dependent on the origin.
Back to Rivetto we teamed up with our bicycle guides, Angelo and Ettore. Without proper clothing, our trip was cut short. From Rivetto to Serralunga, the village Rivetto overlooks, the trip continued through the vineyards of Fontanafredda (http://www.fontanafredda.it/web/en/ ) and one of the larger producers in Barolo. We made a quick stop sampling some of their wine. The next stop being “Eataly” in Gallo, where we sampled, according to Ettore, the best Grappa of the world. We didn’t disagree, and continued our trip even more happy. The last leg to the city of Alba included vistas such as the Ferrero industries; the Nutella makers. We learned that the Hazel-nuts of the PIemonte region is a Hazel sub-species giving a special flavor. Our guides were knowledgeable and we learned quite much about during this trip. Adding the fact that both knew Norway quite well made our brief time together a memorable one.
Montforte, our destination for the night turned out to be a picturesque mountain village. Thinking back we regret that we spent too little time in the city itself before dinner. The dinner took place in a restaurant “Osteria dei Càtari” (http://www.osteriadeicatari.com) with a vivid atmosphere and the host made us truly enjoy ourselves.
We made a stop at Tra Arte e Querce (http://www.traarteequerce.com/en/) to hunt truffles. Given that our truffle-hunting gear remained in our delayed luggage, our host for the hunt could not do anything but disapprove of our clothing. On the other hand, we were not the first to show up with non-proper footwear, and he handed over a set of boots to all of us. The hunt turned out to be both a nice trip in the woods, but also an exciting hunt thanks to the dog. The black truffles we found had a very characteristic and strong smell, and we looked forward to a lunch containing a taste of the same truffles. To our surprise, the truffles did not add too much to the salad into which it was included. Overall, the meal was a perfect ending of our outdoor activities. Thanks to Enzio Costa and his son for introducing us to the world of truffles and truffle hunting.
Now the next leg included driving us over a long distance to the Barbaresco region and the Punset vineyard. Here we met Marina, who owns and run the Punset vinyards/winery [https://en.punset.com]. She has a sound ecological approach to winemaking, and she described several techniques employed in her vineyards. We also learned the main difference between Barolo and Barberesco, namely that the area of Barbaresco remained submerged in the sea for a much longer time than Barolo, thus creating different soil-varieties. We tasted many of her wines, and to our pleasant surprise we noticed that many of her great wines are available in Norway.
The dinner for Friday night took place in the restaurant “Ca’ del Lupo” (http://www.cadellupo.it/web/index_ING.asp) not far from Rivetto, but quite a drive away anyway. Due to the rugged landscape, the driving between villages was anything but straight. The restaurant was architectonically a wonderful place and with a perfect view of the Barolo domain Again great service and food, if all our experience reflect the general standard of Italy we are optimistic for the country.
Our luggage arrived!
Today some of us used our running gear to get to know our surroundings a little more. Running through vineyards made a great start for yet another day. Moreover, to make the start even better; shortly after breakfast a taste of the RIvetto Riserva took place, outside in the bright morning sun. We recommend such a start.
Today Guiseppe took us to Alba, were we spent time at the market. Our interest rapidly turned to the food market, and several of us took the opportunity to buy local produce to bring home. Our lunch was outdoors with “Aldente trattoria” (http://www.aldentetrattorialba.com) and again we enjoyed the food, the wine and ourselves.
Later, Bra and the cheese festival was our destination. The city was lively and we had a great time, tasting cheese and drinks. Given our high impact, both quality and quantity, dinners the last days all agreed on a pizza dinner in Bra. A good choice indeed. Upon our return a heavy rain started. This continued for a while, and all the way back to Rivetto and into the night. The good thing being that the visibility increased dramatically, and the next morning the Alps north of us came into clear view.
Today Rita at Rivetto gave us the tour of the premises. The cellar and winery of the estate are impressive. She told us about their test production of a sparkling wine based on Nebbiolo, a product we certainly will taste when available. A final taste of wines, and we were to leave. The wine club will remember Rivetto, and the great stay they made for us.
Upon entering the car, and now with our luggage, we made a final stop at the Ponchione vineyard (http://www.ponchionemaurizio.com) in the Roero district. This stop was certainly worthwhile. Maurizio, the owner, invited us into a cabin in the middle of his vineyard. Tasting of his wines together with local sausage and chees became a fantastic experience.
The whole trip was great. Not only did we eat and drink well, but also our knowledge of wine and the Piemonte district specifics increased tremendously. Everybody told us that 2015 will be great vintage, and we certainly will taste the 2015 wine when available. All the people we met were great, and if we didn’t have specific feelings for Italy before we now proudly can claim that we love Italy !