Sunday, November 21, 2021

Falling in Love with Barolo and Barbera di Alba

 The north of Italy is filled with heart-stopping vistas, amazing foods, and spectacular wines.  Traveling north from Umbria, my friends and I settled in Canelli in the Asti region at an exceptional Airbnb property situated at the top of Moscato di Asti vineyards. 

We knew we wanted to sample Barolo, Barbera, Barbaresco, and Moscato, and arranged tastings/tours for just that.  Our first stop was at a large producer, Ceretto, to see their operation, but not to taste.  

This is kind of the back to the future wine making, aging it in amphora the way the Egyptians and Romans made their wines.  

From there, we headed to Sordo, a local producer near Alba.  Driving up the hill to the winery, we were again, stunned by the surrounding beauty on every hill covered with vineyards.  Italian wineries are quite different from any in the US: they are usually much older, passed from generation to generation, with the younger generation taking the helm and expanding production and marketing to all corners of the globe.  Proud histories fill the hallways, with photos of past generations, and the next generation.  
In Sordo we tasted, Barolo, Barbera,  and Sauvignon Blanc.  

As with any tour, lunchtime approached and we headed off to Castiglione Falletto and the amazing  Cantina della Cantina Comunale.    

This is the view from the terrace.  There are many places in this world where the view is better than the food, but here, the food was exceptional.  We tried the local specialty pasta, Plin, and a brassato of beef simmered for 36 hours in Barolo.  


Guinea fowl

When you are in the land of hazelnuts, you order a hazelnut panna cotta with chocolate sauce, and salted caramel hazelnuts, am I right?
After lunch, it's on to our last tasting at Massolino, another family-owned winery located here for over 100 years.  Again, Barolo and Barbera are the stars here.  The Nebbiolo grape grows well here, in this region and the Italian word for fog is is foggy here, and that helps the grapes as they mature.  

While we visited each winery, they were still busy crushing the red grapes.  The whites had been picked (all by hand) and processed in August.  Fall had come to the Langhe region and it was cooling off considerably.  Several mornings were in the 30's when we woke up and it was foggy.  Having explored the Alba region it was time to head back to Canelli and explore the Asti region.  Ciao for now.

Adventures in Umbria

 Dr. C. and I spent 6 weeks in Spello this fall, and had some lovely adventures.  On my birthday we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Montefalco, and then had the privilege of going to visit the Tili Vineyard for a wine tasting and chat with Anna Laura and Maria Palma Tili.  I can't think of a better way to have spent the day.  Our family at Enoteca Properzio arranged the wine tasting, which took place at the top of the hill outside of Spello.  Known for its beautifully crafted organic wines, Tili also presses its olives for olive oil, which was delicious.  Over 20 years ago, we first tasted their Sacreterre, and fell in love with its complexity and flavor.  

L-R: Anna Laura, Maria Palma, Marco, Pietro

Situated halfway up Mount Subasio, the sacred mountain of St. Francis, the views over the valley are spectacular.   

A new tasting room has opened with beautiful view of the valley

When we arrived, they were crushing the Sangiovese grapes for their famous Tili Rosso, one of my favorites

All of my favorite wines are in one place; what could be better?  If you haven't tasted Grecchetto, an indigenous white grape to Umbria, you need to try this one.  It is superb.  
We tasted wines, along with cheese, salumi and bread from the region.  Pairing the products of the region with the wines is the ultimate marriage.  The Italians consider wine to be food, and so it should complement whatever you are serving.  We ended our day with this beautiful sunset over the valley and promises to return next year.  

Grazie Tili Vini, and Enoteca Properzio for the invitation.  It was a magical day.