Where to Stay, Eat, and Shop in Piemonte (updated April 2015)

Piemonte is located two hours by car southwest of Milano, a one hour drive from Torino, and only slightly more than three hours from Geneva International Airports, making it very accessible.

Stay

Corte Gondina. Located in La Morra you’ll look long and hard to find a more perfect “basecamp” for a wine trip. Bruno Viberti, his wife, and the staff will probably become your friends for life. www.cortegondina.it

Literally on the top of the hill in Monforte d’Alba, Villa Beccaris offers a great atmosphere. Supreme views, exquisite grounds, and immaculate service. www.villabeccaris.it/

Still in Monforte d’Alba, Le Case della Saracca, you’ll get modern comfort in the medieval part of the village. Open log fire places and candle lights wherever you go, means you have to book early to get one of the (only) 6 rooms.

A winery basically, with some very modern rooms, the Art Suites – Rocche Costemagna.  But, it is the view that makes you want to stay here. All of the Langhe, right in front of you.

Eat

Piemontese are as passionate about their food, as they are about their wines. It’s hard to go wrong choosing between the many Osterias, Trattorias, and Ristorante, but as everywhere else some are just that little much better than the others. Remember to book table(s), as they tend to fill up quickly.

(new)  I’ll put the new ones up top here.  Not because they are necessarily better than those below, but they are definitely worth your attention. 

Angelo Sibilla and Maria Cristina Rinaudi (of Ristorante le Torri fame), have moved to La Morra.  Their new restaurant, Mangè, is located in the center of La Morra and in addition to the normal Piemontese grub, they take pride in their seafood. (+39 339 5819189)

More e Macine is to Piemonte what Babbo is to New York City.  It for nothing else, go for the tiramisu (and some would say, the panna cotta).

Serralunga, home of Vigna Rionda and other great vineyards, is also home to Centro Storico.  Perhaps the best mature Champagne list east of Champagne, and in general a cool place to go for both lunch and dinner.

Osteria del Vignaiolo, 0173 50335, in Santa Maria, great little osteria , local food, attentive staff, deep wine list. It’s as typical of a Piemonte Osteria as can be, and ranks up there with the best.

Nearby, down the hill from La Morra, you’ll find a wine lover favorite, Ristorante Bovio (+39 173 590303) Eat outside on the terrace, or inside in elegant atmosphere. Go here for a culinary experience of Piemontese cuisine but remember to work out the next day as the courses are many and the portions in line with Piemontese hospitality.

Located in the medieval historic part of Monforte d’Alba, Osteria la Saracca, (+39 173 78922), the architecture and ambience of the wine bar/restaurant is much like the hotel (above), which is to say, amazing.

A personal favorite is Ristorante Fior di Sale. Located in Dogliani, it is hard to find, but impossible to forget. A modern taste of tradition, from cooks seeking perfection.

Staying on modern, Osteria la Libera, 0173 293155, in Alba city center, is modern styled interior, with traditional and local grub.  If you have heard rumors regarding their demise, do not believe them.

If Michelin guides your palate, there’s enough to go around, with Piazza Duomo (+39 0173 366167) in Alba,  Risorante Tornavento (+39 173 638352) in Treiso (unbeatable location), Ristorante all’Enoteca (+39 173 9595857) in Canale, and Ristorante Locanda nel Borgo Antico, (+39 173 56355) serving local cuisine in the center of Nebbiolo-land, the town of Barolo.

Shop

Most wineries have a stack of their own wines for you to buy after the tasting/tour. If not, most wines are available at the local village Cantinas (e.g. Cantina Communale La Morra), at more or less same price as the wineries. Multiple wine shops also exist, in most towns, with the Enoteca Fracchia & Berchialla a good bet for finding the best of the Langhe wines.

Do

Hug the cedar tree (for everlasting love)  http://bit.ly/11W8Xeu

Visit the Chapel (not so much religious as it is art – and wine)  http://bit.ly/15a32qX

AA (6)

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What Wine To Go With Vongole?

 

Ever since a legendary visit to Mangê in La Morra, Piemonte, where we had the most delicious Vongole (at that time, known to man), and Angelo suggested an Italian Pinot Noir (Les Cretes from Valle d’Aosta) http://bit.ly/1xwF5D1 to go with it – we have been going at it – i) trying to “best” the vongole, and ii) to check which wine pairing is the optimal one.

Vongole Bartolo Mascarello Groffier Cantina Granveien January 2014

Our latest effort came close….  I mean, I still recommend a visit to the Langhe and maria Cristina Rinaudi and Angelo Sibilla’s restaurant http://on.fb.me/1xwJLJ7 , but if you make Vongole with the right amount of love and patience, you can do it too.

This time the real deal, and entry level red Burgundy, and an entry level nebbiolo battled for the wine pairing kingdom.  Maria-Teresa’s effort is really a mini-Barolo, and went really well with the food.  Groffier’s Bourgogne Rouge took too long to shed it’s raspberry candy aromas to get into the contest (one have to eat before the food gets cold).  Hence, note to self, if you choose this bottle, open and decant it a couple of hours earlier.

To conclude, if you find some vongole at your fish market, buy a bottle of pinot noir or nebbiolo, set some quality time aside, and have a go at it.

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Tiramisu and barbera?

When a restaurant the hotel booked did not have the quality of wine list we asked for, we stumbled onto I Colori del Vino, an enoteca of our liking.  A broad selection, but also a number of hidden gems, like mature Barolos, etc.  Hereby recommended for wine and light grub.  Anyways, this is about their tiramisu….

Tiramisu at I Colori del Vino Roma September 2 2014

Crunchy fingers, creamy, medium length, perhaps a tad one-dimensional?  But kinda cool, a little bit like the rest of the food at I Colori del Vino.  A little bit Roman touch maybe?

Accompanied by a 2003 Barbera d’Alba Scarrone Vigna Vecchie by Vietti.  One of the top barberas from one of the top barbera years.

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The Hunt For The World’s Best Tiramisu – Trattoria Populare, Oslo, Norway

Since March 2011 one of the often talked-about restaurants on the Oslo food-scene has been Trattoria Poulare.  We went there for lunch on a beautiful spring day.  An outside table, good pasta, a great bottle of wine, the settings could not have been much better. 

Tiramisu Trattoria Populare Oslo

Pity then the tiramisu was not up to par.  Cocoa on the nose, some citrus. Mascarpone attack on the first bite, angstrong citrus aftertaste. Too much orange, also a feel of metallic fruit.    Sorry, Populare, but you need to do much better than that!

The search continues…..

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Our Top 10 Value Wines of 2013

The season of lists continues, this time with great buys we have discovered in the 12 months behind us.  You might shake your head in disbelief as some (2) of these wines might top 40 dollars, but this is not necessarily a top 10 wines at a low price list, but rather a list of wines we find fight really well way above their weight class.  Hopefully they are still around for you (try www.wine-searcher.com or www.vinopedia.com)  to buy and enjoy.

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo by Cavallotto (at Vinmonopolet, Norway)

2010 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits by Domaine Lécheneaut et Fils (at Specs, in Texas, USA)

2010 Langhe Nebiolo by Cantina Bartolo Mascarello (at Enoteca Fracchia & Berchialla, Alba, Italia)

2010 Bourgogne Rouge by Domaine Marquis d’Angerville (at Caviar House & Prunier, Frankfurt Airport, Germany)

2010 Bourgogne (white) by Domain Guy Roulot (at Vinmonopolet, Norway)

2009 Monthélie Le Meix Bataille, by Paul Garaudet (at Metrovino, Calgary, Canada)

2009 Fixin, by Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret (wine shop – forgot the name, sorry – Nuits St George, France)

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo by Giovanni Rosso  (at Specs, in Texas)

2007 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia, by Fattoria di Felsina (at Vinmonopolet, Norway)

2012 Riesling QbA Trocken, by Weingut Keller (at Systembolaget, Sweden)

 

We could have seriously added to this list, but a top ten list is a top ten list.  Have a question on a good value wine, feel free to ask on Twitter, here, or anywhere you find howtowinetravel. 

 

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Our Top 10 Wines Of 2013

It’s that time of year!  Where you look back, and try to make sense of it all.  The good stuff, and the not so good stuff.  And, to make it easier on yourself, you make lists.  So do we.  First out, our list of what we found to be our top 10 wines tasted in 2013.  In no specific order:

Barolo Villero Vietti 2006

1993 Langhe Larigi  –  Elio Altare

2009 La Romanee  –  Domaine Comte Liger-Belair

2006 Barolo Villero  –  Vietti

2010 Nuits St Georges Les Pruliers  –  Domaine Léchenaut

2009 Mersault Les Tillets  –  Guy Roulot

2012 Riesling Hermannshöhle GG  –  Dönnhoff

1996 Barolo Vigneto Arborina  –  Giovanni Corino

2010 Nuits St Georges Clos de le Marechale  –  Domaine J-F Mugnier

1995 Barolo  –  Bartolo Mascarello

1974 Barolo Enrico VI  –  Cordero di Montezemolo

 

Many many more could have been on this list, but we had to limit it down in a year that has been good to us when it comes to drinking great wines and meeting fantastic people around the world.

1993 Larigi Elio Altare

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Stalking Luca Currado – of Vietti – in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Described as a contemporary, casual trattoria-style restaurant with alfresco dining overlooking the Opera House, Opera is a restaurant in the Park Hyatt Hotel, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.  Honed as one of the better restaurants in town, inside probably the best hotel in town, fitting then that you would find wines from Vietti there.

Vietti at Opera in Saigon

On the wine menu you’d find the usual French and Italian big wine brands, and the joy of finding a family wine from Elena and Luca among them, saved our lunch, and day.

Of course, to date, the most expensive Tre Vigne I have had anywhere (the wine list in general had way to many zeros in it, and that’s not only because prices were cited in Vietnamese dong), but it was absolutely worth it.

As for the restaurant, OK.  The hotel?  Great. 

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Stalking Luca Currado – of Vietti – This Time In Sweden

No Luca sighting this time, but at least his wines had their way to Systembolaget in Sweden. For me personally, Vietti’s 2010 Barbera d’Alba Vigna Scarrone was one of this summer’s big surprises.  Not that it has not always been a great Barbara, but I realized going through a couple of bottles this summer, that this wine really punches way above it’s weight class.  Absolutely perfect with most light pasta dishes.

Vietti 2010 Barbera d'Alba Vigna Scarrone

So, now, if in Sweden, you can get both this, the Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco, and the Barolo Castiglione.  It’s a start, a good one too. 

Perhaps the Swedes gets the rest of the Barolo lineup, as well as the divine La Crena (Barbera) next?

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Stalking Luca Currado, of Vietti

Stalking Vietti is not the hardest thing to do, as their wines are available in most geographies, and both Luca and Elena travels the world frequently to educate people about their wines, vineyards, and history.

Sometimes however, even I am amazed at where I can find them, and their wines.  This time at Ruby’s Diner, Houston International Airport (IAH) in Texas, USA. 

A Vietti Moscato d’Asti to go with your burger , Sir?  By the glass, no less!

Vietti at Ruby's Diner IAH

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Official Barolo 2009 Launch Ceremony – Il Barolo 2009 un’annata alla vostra attenzione

IMG_4996

101 winemakers ready to serve their 09 babies, a more crowded than usual Barolo town center, Jancis Robinson as the headliner (after the wine, of course), and great weather to boot.  Our first visit to this annual event, this time to welcome the 09 vintage of Barolos.  Here’s our takeaways:

Best dressed (inspired by the Swedish Royal wedding the same weekend):  Without doubt Giuseppe “Citrico” Rinaldi.  First time I have seen him in a suit.  Ready for the big occasion.

Best wine(es):  Bartolo Mascarello, Massolino’s Vigna Rionda, Cavallotto, and Giuseppe Rinaldi (must be said that we were not even close to taste the wines from all 101 producers present). In addition, we got some visits under our belt during the weekend, and must admit both Vietti’s and Elio Altare’s ranks high.  But, will agree with Antonio Galloni who thinks the 2010 Altare wines beats the 09s.  Wine of the weekend was without a doubt the 10 Langhe Arborina from Elio Altare.

Corte Gondina Springer 2013 A

Best learning:  Some Langhe Chardonnay’s are getting up there in quality. Not that Guy Roulot et al should fear the Langhe battle Burgundy for the kingdom yet, but it is now more than OK to order a bottle of Cavallotto’s or Massolino’s chardonnay for dinner or lunch.  Also, Giulia Negri’s version is interesting and worth a look.

Best news:  Giuseppe Rinaldi’s 09 Barolo Brunate-Le Coste is released at 35 EURO. 

Biggest surprise:  Dead heat between i) Marco Curto (Nadia, Elio Altare’s niese) whose 08 and 09 wines are good, and at the price, very good; and ii) Fallet-Prevostat Grand Cru at Centro Storico – I had no idea that cheap champagne could taste that good!

All in all:  09 is not 01/04/06 nor 08, but stay with the serious producers (the usual suspects), and you will find great value.

Elio Altare wine tasting on the porch

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