Degustazione in Piemonte
Our guest blogger today is 20+ year Kermit Lynch salesman, Michael Butler…
I visited the Piedmont region of Italy a little while back and it was one of the most enjoyable trips of my wine life. I drove there from Beaune after tasting at a number of our Burgundy producers, which was also great, but another story. As soon as I entered Italy, I stopped at a rest area for a snack and was amazed at how good the autostrada panini was — it just got better from there.
My base of operations was a comfy, classy hotel called the Castello di Sinio, in the southern end of Barolo. It is owned by a couple of Berkeley area expats who used to be clients at the shop. Not only are they the perfect hosts, but also the hotel is extremely comfy and in a great location for visiting the surrounding vineyards. Looking out from my bedroom window in the early morning I had a great view of the old town shrouded in la nebbia, the Italian word for the fog, which helps allow the Nebbiolo grapes to ripen gracefully.
The first night in town I drove to Ristorante Le Torri in Castglione Falletto and had a fabulous meal of classic regional dishes. I drank a lovely Barbera made in the traditional style (no new oak and not overripe) from a vineyard less than a mile away from the restaurant.
The next day started with a long walk in the hills through vineyards and hazelnut orchards, then off to see Guido Porro in Serralunga D’Alba for a tasting of his classic Piedmontese wines. Guido’s tasting room overlooks their Lazzairasco and Santa Caterina vineyards, which are perfectly situated to make delicious Dolcetto, Barbera, and Barolo. The estate is also an agriturismo, so if you plan ahead you can rent a room on the farm—nicer people you couldn’t meet and delicious wine!
But for me, I had to jump in the Alfa and race off to the hill town of Barbaresco and taste with Silvio Giamello, an excellent producer of organically grown Nebbiolos.
Sometimes finding these small wineries is easier said than done. In this case I missed the turn-off and ended up in the center of town. I guess I looked like a lost tourist (go figure), after about 2 seconds of looking around someone came up to the car and asked me in English (how did he know?) if he could help me. I said I was looking for Silvio Giamello, he said, “Oh, he is a friend of mine, follow me.” Two minutes later I arrived at Silvio’s. We tasted his excellent Langhe Nebbiolo and a retrospective of Barbaresco going back to the 1996 vintage, Yum!
I ended the day in Silvio’s dinning room that overlooks the surrounding vineyards. We sipped some of his older wines with salumi and cheese from local artisan producers. Sometimes my job is not so bad.