Visit to Piedmont – DAY 1
A trip to a beautiful landscape and the encounter of some superb wines paired with exquisite food makes any one having a tripping experience. It was the case at the very end of November and for the 1st day of December. Over 2 days I experienced some of the top wines of Piedmont and dinned in two of the most praised restaurants of the region: Bovio in La Morra and La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso near Alba.
On Nov 30th it was the first visit at 11:00 am at one of my favorite producers of Barolo: Cavallotto in Castiglione Falleto. Had the chance to taste the 2011 and 2009 vintage for its Barolo’s together with its Barbera d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba and the elegant Vigna San Giuseppe Riserva 2009. All wines are at the highest level from the juicy Barbera d’Alba Vigna del Cuculo 2012, elegant but powerful series of 3 Barolo’s with their highest expression of Nebbiolo found in Vigna San Giuseppe Riserva 2009. This are all traditional style made Barolo’s with prolonged maceration on the skins that can last up to 1 month and aging in big Slavonian oak barrels for up to 2-3 years.
Lunch at Bovio in La Morra at noon was a treat. The restaurant has a beautiful view over the vineyards, while the season menu included white truffles. There was a serious lineup of wines tasted during lunch: a nutty Ferrari Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2002 (93/100) that sports a deep gold color, rich and deep on the palate, a stellar Silex 2011 (94/100) by Dageneau that took about 45 min to start to open up and needed more time but who gave it. Good wine drinks fast, great wine the fastest. At this moment in time, the mineral part is quite intense in Silex 2011, and as experience proved with this wine, in time minerality fades in the background leaving rich and pure aromas of fruit to take the front stage. Time will do it.
Red wines were a Burgundian style Barolo, very pure in its red fruit aromas: 2011 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (94/100) and a powerful 2005 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis (94/100) that drinks very well today already.
Next visit was at Ellio Grasso in Monforte d’Alba where I tasted the 2011 Barolo’s. Monforte d’Alba is known for very structured Barolo, sometimes with forceful tannin that needs time to smooth. The use of small French oak barrels tames the tannin in Nebbiolo and makes the wines more accessible in their youth. I tasted 2011 Gavarini Chiniera and Ginestra Casa Mate. Both are powerful and elegant wines, but not very open for discussions for now. Cellars at Ellio Grasso are impressive, built directly into the hill.
Not much time to spend here as the next visit was already due and we were running late. Next stop to Massolino in Serralunga d’Alba. Had the opportunity to have the company of Franco Massolino, one of the owners, and after a short visit into their newly built cellars and winery where the amount of concrete tanks is high nowadays, the tasting room was the final stop. Tasted through all the range and it is easy to understand why they are famous after one tastes Vigna Rionda.
Last stop for the day was dinner at the exquisite La Ciau del Tornavento restaurant. They have a wine list to die for with amazingly friendly prices. Food was a royal treat, wines were spectacular. Ca del Bosco Annamaria Clementi 2004 was the opening. Great expression of Methode traditionelle sparkling that deservedly rivals the super premium cuvee’s from Champagne.
I wanted to compare same vintage from two different style producers: 2001 Roberto Voerzio Rocche dell’Annunziata Torriglione Barolo (95/100) from La Morra that shows grace and elegance, with pure red fruits and spicy mouth feel, silky tannins and long finish, a real treat, and 2001 Luciano Sandrone Cannubi Boschis Barolo (93/100) that sports a riper aromatic profile with more black fruits and fig, powerful tannin and high density on the palate, that next to Voerzio seems a bit too much. Pictures for food are self explanatory.
trio of funghi porcini
Finished dinner with this 2010 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino that received the supreme accolades from Robert Parker’s contributor for Italy: Monica Larner that awarded it a perfect 100/100. The wine has everything: depth of aromas, richness, smooth velvety tannin and an incredible freshness in spite of its high 15% alc.
Before leaving the restaurant the chef invited us to visit their impressive wine cellar just underneath the front entrance. If the wine list is to die for, wait to see the actual wine cellar.