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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 41.8719, 12.5674
Yesterday morning we packed the car (and I mean packed) and with Brent and Marg headed out of Villefranche towards the wine district of Piemonte, Italy. With a large suitcase standing up in the middle of the back seat and all of us nursing various bags, it was not really comfortable, but we survived the 4-5 hours it took to drive here.
We first headed to Ventimiglia and then up through the mountains towards Cuneo. There were many winding roads and a couple of hairy moments with some of the mad drivers around here. Fletcher did well to keep us safe and on the road. We stopped by the side of the road at Fossano for a quick picnic lunch and then continued into Barolo. This is a small village in the middle of stunning scenery, the centre of the wine industry here and especially the Barolo wines made from Nebbiolo grapes. Brent and Marg had been here two weeks ago and had booked us into this lovely small hotel attached to the Brezza winery. Because of high demand we were sharing a room which was fine as it is large and we are old friends!!!
I had not heard of this area before but the views are magnificent. Before we got to the hotel we drove on to La Morra, another small town and tasted some of the wines from around here at the Community visitor's centre. Very well made wines and some with excellent fullness of taste. The vista from the top of the hill over a valley full of symmetrically organised vines which followed the contours was stunning, even though there was a low lying haze about.
We went back to Barolo and checked in. Then we wandered into the town to look around. Found a couple of places there with tasting areas. They do make some good wines here!!! At both we had great chats to the winemakers even though the language barrier on both sides made it necessary to use our hands, but hey! we're in Italy.
At 6pm we had arranged a tasting at the Brezza winery under our hotel. Here this is done in a sophisticated manner. We sat down at the table with crunchy bread and a variety of cheeses and the winemaker, Enzo, talked us through the various varieties. As Brent is a winemaker himself, albeit a small one, he had lots of questions and we were given interesting information about how they were made. I just enjoyed the tastes!!
We then went up to the hotel restaurant for dinner. This had an interesting menu and was inexpensive, especially compared to what we had been paying in France. I had guinea fowl and Fletcher, rabbit. Delicious!! Later Enzo came and joined us along with a young Australian winemaker, Chris, from Victoria who is here doing the vintage as part of his oenology course. Brent had brought one of his own wines along so Enzo and Chris tasted along with us. Enzo then brought out one of his special wines for us to taste so it turned out to be an excellent night!!
This morning, after a later start, we relaxed a little at the hotel while Brent and Marg sorted out their travel arrangements for the next few days on the Internet. We then set out about 11-30am to drive to Santa Maria to taste some more wines. Here we first went to a winery called Alessandri Silvio and the lady there, the wife of the winemaker, gave us their range to taste. She was lovely and we had a great time communicating in broken English and Italian. After that we had lunch in La Morra and went to another winery, Erbaluna, in Annunziata. Here the winemaker gave us a tour of his winery and then another great sit down tasting, accompanied by beautiful creamy soft cheese. He is an organic winemaker and his English was great so no problems communicating here. He was generous with his time and we were there for over an hour.
It was another beautiful sunny day and the haze from yesterday ,which had been around this morning, cleared away so we could get fantastic views out over the valley. I could look at the scenery for ages!!
The others have gone off into Barolo for yet another tasting, but I decided to stay here at the hotel to catch up with this and prepare for another great meal tonight!!
Tomorrow we head to Torino (Turin) to drop Brent and Marg and then Fletcher and I are heading north to Innsbruck. We may catch up with the other two there later in the week.
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