04 Feb Winter in Piemonte
Winter 2015/2016 in Piemonte – The Road Trip
All indications where for a great trip – flights on time and all connections made. After the 30hr trip from the land of Oz we where greeted with a morning landing into Malpensa Airport – where the sun was only just coming over the horizon and the temperature was a clear clean -3C .
Next was the big test for Australians coming to Europe– driving on the right side of road, to me if you can get out of the car park at Malpensa the rest is easy. Car park cleared and only the Autostrada 130km speed limit and around 2 hours to Piemonte.
With Mrs Traveller in tow we had timed our arrival for Saturday morning so that we could visit the Asti Markets – These are the biggest markets in Piemonte so we wanted to visit. At first we thought that the markets are mainly clothing and bric a brac and very extremely disappointed as we had made this stop to see and taste the local produce that the region is famous for, then we found the rest of the stalls – all round a great market. Markets done a quick espresso and some freshly roasted chestnut and we set the GPS for Alba.
Once in Alba we headed straight for their small organic market . These markets are a small organic market and offer a good selection of local bread, cheese, salamis & Truffle. October & November is Truffle season in Alba and it seemed as though every second shop had the obligatory selection of Black and White truffles. We where later informed by one of our winemaker friends that due to the very hot summer this year, the Piemonte region produced minimal truffles and most have been bought in from other places such as Romania.
If you are here in December the other market worth a look is the Christmas festival in Govone. This is a collection of 80 Xmas huts and an assortment of traditional xmas trinkets, mulled wine, nativity scene and of course Santa’s house that is setup in the local Castle.
So three markets done and in need of some food and drink so we head into Alba to check out Voglia De Vino. This wine bar has an incredible selection of wines by the glass and a couple of nice wine flights that showcase the various wines of the region. The wine flights and various cheese and meat plates remind me why I love this part of Italy – stunning fresh, stylish food, and great wine.
If the food is glorious then the scenery is stunning. When the fog – Nebbia – clears it reviles the langhe hills, tight folded landscape covered with vineyards with small towns dating back to the Romans with it seems every hilltop crowned with either a church or Castle, all of which are overshadowed by the snow covered Alps to the north and west.
Typical wines from Piemonte
Moscato – A flowery white that is best drank young. Moscato is usually low in alcohol, around 6%, refreshing “Frizzante” and with fruity sweetness. The better examples are being produced under the label Moscato d’Asti. The same grape is also used to make the local fizz – Asti Spumante
Roero Arneis – The perfumed Roero Arneis is becoming more fashionable and produces a dry white that is best when young and fresh.
Barbera – Barber is high in acid and low in tannin and has traditionally been used to produce a tart, quaffing wine. Recently perceptions of Barbera have been changing with the use of French oak for barrel aging for the better grapes producing some serious wines. Barbera D’Asti Superior designates that the wine has been aged in oak
Nebbiolo – Taking its name from the local fog or nebbia this is the red grape that make the famous Barolo and Barbaresco. Slow ripening, colour poor like Pinot Noir yet more tanic than Cabernet Nebbiolo. Barolo has long been know as Italy’s king of wines and with the Langhe hills with their differing altitudes and orientations can produce quite different wines. Wines from around La Mora tend to be lighter and more open than those of the other regions.
Over the next week we where busy at work visiting wineries and talking with Wine makers.
I must confess that every time I come back to Piemonte my love affair with Barolo starts again.
This trip we visited – (individual reviews to follow)
Ponte Fratelli Vini ( Gorzano )
Sergio & Celso Abbona – ( Dogliani )
Azienda Agricola Giorgio Scarzello ( Barolo )
Azienda Agricola Montaribaldi Roberto & Luciano Taliano ( Barbaresso )
Deltetto Carlo – Roero (Canale)
Ettore Germano (Serralunga d”alba)
Damino Francesco (Barolo) ..