Piedmont - June 2012

Leaving a grey and wet London, Mike, Steve, Celine and I flew to Turin last week where a pleasant warmth welcomed us. We grabbed the car, destination Neive in the heart of the Piedmont wine region.

As kilometres went by, we saw the landscape evolving from flat cultivated land to a green hilly landscape with vines as far as the eyes could see. This was the land of Nebbiolo!
Our visit started with the family owned winery, Mascarello, in the pretty town of Monchiero in the Castiglione Falletto subregion. Situated on the banks of a river, only a small placard saying “Cantina Mascarello”  in front of a yellow painted building indicated that we were at the right place. 
With their 12.5 ha of vines, Mauro with the help of his wife and son, pursue the work and tradition that his family started in 1881. Maria Teresa and her son Giuseppe introduced us to their full range of wines starting with a beautiful Barbera2007 showing a lively acidity that balanced the generous fruit. We continued by tasting their 2006 Barolo crus discovering stunning structure, perfume and precision in the wines. We carried on with the 2007 vintage with more rounded wines and finished with their exceptional Monprivato Riserva 2004. As we visited their traditional cellar, Mauro spoke to us in his musical Italian, sharing with us his family history and knowledge of the Monprivato terroir, and transmitting to us his passion and enthusiasm!

We took the car through the hills to join Claudio Fenocchio (Giacomo Fenocchio) in his cellar next to Monforte d’Alba. The view over Bussia Sotana was astonishing. 

We could have stayed there looking at the vineyards forever! Here the term “terroir” really makes sense: the soil composition varies from one square of land to the other, nothing is flat and there is a multitude of different exposures. All these subtle differences are expressed in the glass.
Claudio with his eternal smile and energy poured us his recent vintages directly from the vats before taking us to a small cantina where we could appreciate his Barolo Villero 2007with delicious Italian cuisine. 

To revive the tradition of his grandfather, Claudio is also conducting some interesting experiments, making a Barolo Bussiawith a long period of maceration (3 months of skin contact) to give more structure. We just need to be patient now and see how this evolves!

Back on the narrow roads edged with poppies, we drove through the hills to the Falleto vineyard to meet Dante and Francesco the wine makers of Bruno Giacosa. The gentle hills here have the shape of an amphitheatre creating a microclimate and terroir which is one of the finest of the region

In this idyllic setting, under a soothing the sun, Dante and Francesco explained to us all about the vines accompanied by the howling of a peacock and the song of cicadas. 

There was something magic and we felt completely under the spell of this sublime region! 

In their winery in Neive we received a warm welcome from the beautiful Bruna, Bruno Giacosa’s daughter. 

The tasting can be summarised in one word - bonissimo! I admit to already being in love with the Barolo La Rocche Falleto 2007, a wine full of energy with a great complexity, and it was still sensational this time. The wines we tasted next, the Barolo Falletto 2008 and the Barolo La Rocche Falleto2008 which will be released in a few years showed great elegance and style, qualities which express the true characteristics of Giacosa wines. The wines were so persistent that we could still taste them when we sat down an hour later to have dinner in one of Bruna’s favourite cantinas near Monteforte d’Alba.
Our third and last day began with the visit of the famous Gajawinery situated through a cobbled street in Barbaresco. 

Inside the impressive winery, which combines history and modernity, one can feel how hard Angelo Gaja worked all his life to open Piedmont wines to the world. 

The old Italian botte is still used to age the wines in the 150 years old historical cellar. A bit further on, in the extended cellar, lie the French barriques that Angelo Gaja has selected himself. Gaia, Angelo’s daughter, hosted the tasting where we compared the 2008s and 2009s of their Barbaresco and single crus (Costa Russi, Barbaresco and single crus (Sori Tildin, Sori San Lorenzo). We also tasted their 2008 crus from the Barolo commune (Conteisa, Sperss). She was as enthralled by the wines as we were, eager to discover what the wines had to tell.
Ending our trip to Piedmont, we visited our last winery, Roagna, not far from Gaja. Although they are neighbours, we discovered some completely different wines here – diversity it’s what makes wine fascinating.
The Roagna winery also has a long history going back 100 years ago. Luca Roagna, the son and fifth generation of the family took us into the vineyards that had the naturalness of the Garden of Eden! 

They let their old vines grow naturally, allowing all kinds of plants to grow, which definitively contributes to the flavours and complexity to their wines. Luca made us taste everything from the soil of the vineyard (yes he did!) to all their crus, from young to old vintages. The cellar, full of treasures had something of Ali Baba’s cave. We were transported by the purity of his wines but we soon had to come back to reality and rush to the airport where we almost missed our flight!

In this trip to Piedmont, we didn’t just discover wines of high quality. We also met some touching people who put all their heart into their wines, continuing the traditions and history of preceding generations in the region. This, added to a complex terroir, give wines full of expression.
Now back in a windy London, the only thing I want to do is dive back into this timeless Piedmont and pour myself a glass from one of those five wonderful producers to feel that emotion again! Alla vostra!

Blog by Chloé Barthet

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7908 0600 web@armitwines.co.uk