I've been documenting much of my days here via posts on the Snooth Forum but to add some color I thought I'd do a little blogging so without further ado, a few photos from the top of the boot.
You can follow along my travels in more detail here, but I'll briefly put a few of these photos in context
When I arrived in Italy I went basically from the airport to the Sella estate in Lesson, Northern Piedmont. We tasted a few wines with Cristiano the winemaker before visiting the summer home of the Sella family, now siting preserved but unused. A photo from thetop floor balcony shows the warmth here, check out the palm tree, as well as the encrouchment of housing that has virtually replaced the vineyards in this area.
Sella makes wines from Lessona and Bramaterra, The soil in Bramaterra includes sand of volcanic origin and some decomposed porphyr but the sand, and rock it's derived from accounts for the significant differences between the two wines. both wines are made in a very traditional way and are aged in the Sella cellars in large, neutral wood, though some new oak has been used on some wines.
Our Next day began with a visit with one of my favorite producer, Mauro Mascarello of Giuseppe Mascarello. We tasted the line-up chez Mascarello along with renowned Italian journalist Franco Ziliani. As usual this was a high point of my trip. The wines were great, as they tend to be. We toured the cellar after the tasting where, among other gems, lay future vintages of the famed single vineyard Monprivato aging comfortably in their large wood botte.
The botte are not the only contains that are throwbacks to another era found in the Mascarello cantina. Both 13.5 liter quarter brentas and these awfully attractive damigiane, look at those tin labels, how cool is that, are still used regulalry to help manage quantities of wines. i want to manage one right into my cellar. Heck, I'ld even take one empty!
Afer the cellar tour we went to da Felicin for a great lunch when we had the chance to blind taste a few great and very surprising bottles of wine. A very humbling experience for all involved as no one really got any right.My guesses from left to right: 1993 La Morra from Rivalta, a 1988 Barolo from Monforte, a 1978 Barolo from Barolo, and finaly a 1974 from who knows. the wines totally outperformed and that was probably due to the fact that they've spent all the life in one place after having been moved a few kilometers. What a lovely lunch and a humbling experience.
After lunch we were treated to a tour of the cellar where we got a chance to see some of the wines we didn't drink. Suffice it to say we had a blast taking a look around at treasures like these.
After lunch, it was a long lunch so after lunch it was 5, we headed back to Alba for the welcome reception for the Alba Wine Exhibition. Along the way we stopped by to take a look at Mauro's Monprivato vineyard. I have another shot of the vineyard from Cannubi that I'll post tomorrow but looking north from Monprivato one can see the wonderful Bricco Boschis estate of the Cavallotto family.
Further to the west and a bit further north is Alberto Racca's tenute Montanello. certainly a new operation but one with roots going back over a hundred. the facilities were once the Cooperative winery for the village of Castiglione Falletto and occupies a wonderful vantage point overlooking some of the great crus of Castiglione.
I'm cheating a bit now as we jump ahead a day to Monday night when we ended up in the village of Barbaresco for an afternoon tasting and dinner at Antica Torre. Since we had about 90 minutes to kill between the tasting and dinner we decided to take a walk out of the south of the village to visit some rather renowned vineyards.
Here's a closer look at Paje. You might notice how lush and verdant the vineyard in the middle is. That's Roagna's organically grown vineyard producing exceptional wines while in totally harmony with the naturally occuring ground cover that help to prevent the landslides that have plagued this region recently. Good for the wine, good for the environment and good for the terrain. Why doesn't every vineyard look like this?
We continued down the road until we came to the fork that divides Faset on the right from Asili on the left. We went up the right hand road and walked up to the top of Bricco Faset. We then went down through the vines and turned back to take this picture of Bricco Asili, just the crown of this hill.
We made it over to the road that heads down through the vines and under Bricco Asili and went around the corner where we ended up under Martinenga with Asili to the left and Rabaja to the right. Perhaps the most important slope in all of Barbaresco and that's the photo that did not come out! I did however get a photos of these unusually high pruned old vines that lay at the bottom of this famed slope separating these vineyards from the Rio Sordo which lies just beyond the stand of trees on the background.
We climbed up through Rabaja and Asili and let me tell you I will never forget how steep these vineyards are. It has been a great start to this trip and I have alot more to come. I've got some great video of the vineyards as well so help put them all in context. I hope you enjoyed this little bit and I look foward to my next installment. Until then Ciao!
Gregory Dal Piaz