Reverse Engineering My Tasting Notes - Piedmont

In June 2011, the practical exam of the Master of Wine featured this very question:

3) Wines 6 to 8 are made from different single grape varieties and are from the same region of origin. 

For all three wines: a) Identify the region of origin as closely as possible; For each wine: b) Identify the grape variety; c) Comment on the method of production

and so, a couple of weeks ago, we practiced using similar wines as the exam.

Read More

Piedmont - Great Places To Eat!

here, i discovered something very important on this trip:  i have found that i am much more traditionalist and conversative when it comes to food than what seems to be the current trend among foodies.

we used mainly 2 guides to select the places we wanted to eat: ''restoranti d'italia del gambero rosso 2007'' and ''osterie & locande'' from slow food.

i found that the highest ratings from gambero rosso seem to be for those restaurants that have a kind of ''modern'' take on italian cuisine.  a kind of ''nouveau'' style that i am not sure i like but i definitely lean towards not liking it. 

slow food on the other hand definitely have recommendations that are more traditional and the food in those restaurant we visited were certainly more to my leaning.

- l'osteria dell'unione: lunch - super nice location right at the entrance of the village of treiso with a small terrace outside.  as we were 10, we had a set lunch prepared for us and the food was plenty and each dishes more delicious than the others.  the antipasti were fresh, local, and absolutely savoury.  the primis were fresh and tasty and the secondo of rabitt prepared in a peidmont style divine.  they have a very good selection of wine and it is a nice place to linger the whole after-noon. i will definitely return.

 - la ciau del tornavento: dinner - the location is fantastic right in the middle of treiso and if you go there for lunch, i imagine the views of the langhe to be absolutely stunning.  however, for dinner, the atmosphere is somewhat disfunctional and a little bit cold.  the food was modern italian and this is where actually that i had my epiphany of sort.  the wine cellar is probably among the best i have seen however and the selection very difficult for anyone to make only 1 choice.  we received many recommendations about that place and gambero rated it 86 which is among the highest in piedmont.  but for us, the experience was not as good as we had experienced in similarily rated & described restaurant by gambero. i will probably return but not before i have explored other restaurants around langhe.

- l'osteria dell'arco: dinner - you see, for a 77 by gambero rosso, we had a much more pleasant dinner than at la ciau.  this is what makes me think that i am more traditionalist.  the food was tasty and the menu imaginative albeit traditional and simple.  the wine list was also simple, yet the wine we selected was of a very good quality as i imagine the other wines on that list.  one of the first ''slow food'' restaurant, i would definitely go back.

- arsivoli in barbaresco, right next to the enoteca regionale - lunch - this was recommended to us by albino from the cascina barac and to be fank, it must have been the best restaurant of the trip.  we arrived late and there was many people and so, with our group of 10, the service was a bit slow.  but when the food arrived, it was absolutely worth the wait.  it was traditional with a very light modern twist, very savoury and lip smacking.  even the bread and the grissini tasted better than what we had elsewhere.  the decor is modern but without behind devoid of warmth and the staff kindness amply made up what seemed to have been an abnormally busy day for them.  i would definitely go back.

- da cesare - dinner: a very special, albeit a bit strange experience.  first you enter da cesare from the back door of what seems to be private house straight into the chef's kitchen.  as you enter, you are struck by intense aromas coming from what is cooking on the stoves and grilling over the fire.  you do not choose what you will eat at da cesare, they serve you what cesare has decided to cook on that day.  i recomment that you bring your own wine as their wine list is a bit simple.  the whole experience was very special although i did not like everything that we had. some people are all over da cesare as an absolute must to do in langue.  i agree that this is an experience one must absolutely experience and i will difinitely go back but, like la ciau, once i have experienced other places. book in advance as he accepts no more than 20 dinners per night.

my mother and maria with the infamous cesare himself - taken straight into this kitchen!!:

with franco, valeria (cousin), maria, and i:

piedmont - cascina barac

quite frankly, for an agriturismo, cascina barac where we stayed is on a class of its own. 

its location is fantastically located in the middle of the hills overlooking vines left right and center, the quality of its room superb, and the friendliness of its management incomparable. 

on seeing other hotels and agriturismo during our tour of the langhe, i would say the cascina barac is the best for it's location (10 minutes from alba, 15 minutes from barbaresco, 1/2 hour from barolo), it's quietness, and more importantly for this kind of travel, it's wow factor.  this place is everything one imagine (and hope for) for a wine tour in italy.

we felt so much at home that we plan to make cascina barac our base each time we will visit piedmont in the future.

i recommend the suite if you are going to spend more than 3 nights and it has an apartment that is fully appointed for a group of 4.

albino bonelli, it's owner is super friendly and he helped us a great deal to finalise some difficult bookings.

here is a photo i took from the gate on our arrival - you can see the village of treiso on the background:

and another one on the evening before we left - you can feel the ''dolce vita''!!: