The Italian Wine-Tasting Group’s trip to Piedmont
The day had arrived for us to take the Escape to Piedmont wine trip. One could just feel the tension melt away as we sipped our wine while gazing across autumn vineyards.
We started with a great lunch in Anna Ghisolfi’s restaurant in Tortona, nestled in the nave of a 1500-year-old deconsecrated church with a magnificent open kitchen, which showed us how strong was their love of cooking. Artfully presented dishes were accompanied by exquisite Derthona – a white wine made with an almost extinct local grape brought back to life by the man who is considered by the rest of Italy to be the undisputed father of Timorasso, Walter Massa, who we were lucky enough to meet. Another red wine we sampled from Massa winery during this lunch was “L’Avvelenata”, a still red wine produced from Freisa grapes, another native vine. The name displayed on the bottle derives from the title of a song written by the famous Italian songwriter Guccini and it has also the first 2 verses of the same song. Such a genius is Walter Massa!
After lunch, we had a stop in the Monferrato area with the first wine tour in Coppo Winery, a UNESCO World Heritage site with its historical underground wine cellars called ‘Cathedrals’, where the family reserve with the finest wines is located. We tasted a good traditional method sparkling rosé wine, “Clelia Coppo”, plus Monteriolo Piemonte DOC Chardonnay and Pomorosso Nizza DOCG Nizza Riserva.
Finally, in the evening, we reached the ‘Langhe’ area, a hilly zone in the lowest part of Piedmont, where the red Nebbiolo grape is the king, all safely harvested and fermenting and ageing in vats and barrels of every type and size imaginable, to obtain memorable wines such as Barolo. The Maritime Alps, with the peak of Monviso, and the hills of Alba with the Gran Paradiso Group and the Monte Rosa group provided the perfect backdrop to red moon sunsets and glorious sunrises.
We overnighted in Fontanafredda, a fairy-tale village founded by the first king of Italy for his love Rosa, surrounded by wineries and a beautiful small forest where you can take a relaxing walk.
The day after, we breathed in cool crisp air as we followed the dynamic duo of truffle hunter (a delightful and very well -prepared young girl) and dog (Bracco breed) in search of buried treasure. The exact location of the truffles must remain a secret- but I can tell you it is somewhere in the chasms of marl in the Roero hills, characterised by formations of tuff overhanging the wooded valleys where the precious black and white truffles are found, generally under hazelnut trees. The dependable nose of the dog brought success – our reward plates of food made with the delicious ‘Black Gold’, our glasses flowing with Barbera wine in their old family Cascina. After purchasing truffle honey, truffle oil, minced truffles, truffle butter, and safflower products off the shelves of Aloi Luca- we set out in discovery of yet more.
We spent the afternoon in a completely different setting: we moved from a family farmhouse into a highly fashionable, ultra-modern winery, called “L’Astemia Pentita” (literally in English “The repentant teetotaller”), with walls covered with vine-leaf macro-patterns, located in Barolo Village. The winery is innovative; the building looks like a sculpture among the vines, it is the out-of-scale representation of two cases of wine, one on top of the other. Inside are many designer pieces. The owner even designed bottles, a tribute to people, depicting gentlemen and ladies in elegant dress. We tried and tasted many aged Barolo wines in a place where design and modern art reign supreme!
We went to Barolo village and visited the “Marchesi Barolo”, we learned more history and we had a guided tour of the cellars with a very professional guide. Photos were taken along the castle walls before yet more feasting on an interesting dinner with traditional Piedmontese dishes and tasting of their production, one of which was a fantastic “Moscato d’Asti” DOCG called Zagara.
The last day we reached the Vicoforte Sanctuary, a monumental church: we climbed inside the world’s largest elliptical dome and conquered the 200 steps in search of epic views around every corner.
We had a good lunch in Mondovi’ Piazza, reached by a funicular, where we walked in a beautiful garden called “Parco del Belvedere” with a stunning view over the Alps and the Langhe hills. We were so lucky because we had a sunny day and we took a marvellous picture of us all together as you can see.
Walking down to digest, we reached Cascina Monsignore, where a charming couple poured us glasses of Dolcetto wine produced overlooking the hills where Napoleon fought for control of the region. They invited us back next year to assist in the harvest.
We drove to “Tenuta Carretta”, for a new wine tasting: a rosé wine and a magnificent Barbaresco. Later Chef Flavio Costa delighted us in his Michelin-starred restaurant located on the same estate, the food always of course accompanied by wonderful wine. To close the dinner, the Chef offered us “Barolo Chinato”, aromatized wine made by adding a maceration of herbs and spices to Barolo DOCG, delicious!
The last day we had another wine tasting in “Borgogno Winery”, with many types of Barolo produced by the winery and cultivated in different terroirs. We raised our glasses filled with a “No Name” red Barolo, bottled and sold anyway in protest of the prestigious label being denied.
We returned to Fontanafredda each night to rest. Some chose to forgo sleep, opting instead to share a nightcap with friends old and new. After midnight we popped open some Alta Langa – the sparkling white of the region in celebration of a birthday. In the mornings we downed cappuccinos and started our days with bread, meats, cheeses, omelettes, fruit and yoghurt.
I can’t wait to see where in Italy you might take us next! Lorella and Criistina, grazie mille!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Carole Stull for the Italian Wine-Tasting Group