The 5:2 diet has been a lifestyle choice that has transformed our routine over the past 12 months or so and has been essential to combat the omnipresent temptations of life in Piemonte. When you are surrounded by the best wine in the world at affordable prices, and dozens of restaurants providing everything from the €10 workers’ lunch to Michelin starred fine dining it is difficult to maintain “la bella figura”. And despite my best intentions I find it difficult to write this blog regularly as I am either hungry and down or simply too busy. At the moment I’m neither so I’m going to attempt to catch up.
Wine highlights- value, value value!:
There has been a lot of discussion in the press recently about the alternatives to the poor 2013 Bordeaux vintage and both Jancis Robinson and Victoria Moore have been raving about nebbiolo and the 2010 Barolos in particular. They recommend some very well known names that make fabulous wines that are relatively easy to find in the UK. Fortunately I’m surrounded by a galaxy of small stars who don’t have regular access to the market and whose prices reflect that.
A case in point is Franco Rocca’s wines that continue to attract regular attention from my friends and family and several hundred bottles have found their way to the UK in the past 12 months. His 2010 Bricco Sterpone Barbera and Albesani Barbaresco are sublime and only represent a small part of his 25,000 bottle annual production. I loved the 2009s which had less oak than his previous offerings but the 2010s have achieved another level. Real value
A visit to Negro Giuseppe‘s cantina (with some Australian friends) was long overdue as I regularly choose their “Monsù” when I see it in local bars. (We also enjoyed a bottle of his 2008 Pian Cavallo Barbaresco with dinner at Stefano Paganini’s fabulous “alla Corte degli Alfieri” last month- €30 on the list!).His “Monsù” is 100% nebbiolo and a blend from their 2 Barbaresco vineyards, Pian di Cavallo & Gallina. Aged in 500l oak barrels for around 18 months, it is usually released a year before the Barbarescos. Essentially it’s Barbaresco in everything but name but easier on the pocket. Having said that the Barbarescos are also not expensive and never disappoint.
Another local that I regularly choose in local bars and restaurants is Massimo Rivetti, whose cantina I regularly pass but have never visited until recently. It’s only 1 hill away from home next to the Serraboella vineyard. The hamlet is called Rivetti and Bruno and Dante Rivetti also have vineyards nearby. We bought our house from Marco Rivetti whose Dad was mates with Massimo’s Dad. With friends from the Uk we braved the 5 minute journey and were well looked after by Davide one of the sons, whose good English saved me a job.
All the wines we tasted were good and even the 2006 Barbaresco “Serraboella” riserva made from 50 year old vines was not expensive at €27 considering it is aged for 6 years before release. The Langhe Nebbiolo “Bricco Avene” was very distinctive with a long liquorice finish from vines at 500m and less than half that price. The wine I have drunk most often locally is the Barbera d’Alba “Serraboella from 70 year old vines. In this case the 2007 is packed with fruit, and left me with a sensation of green toffee apple that I really liked. If you prefer something simpler, younger and a local classic the Barbera d’Alba “Froi” (“key to the castle”) is aged in cement vats and released a year or so after harvesting the 35-40 year old vines. The Arneis is another local classic and named after Grandma “Aurelia”. Another high vineyard (500m) at Mango where the grapes are picked in the early morning and spend a day on the skins using dry ice to keep them cool. 6 months on the lees imparts a tropical, mineral nose and a pleasing acidic length.
Almost time for a Pasquetta lunch to lift my spirits so I will continue the catch up soon.