+39 3481663798 evan@piemontemio.com

First of all, belated greetings for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Just in case we had forgotten we had a further reminder recently that we are still in Italy. During my umpteenth conversation with Telecom Italia complaining about the lack of Internet and the length of time it was taking to fix the problem the operator kindly reminded me! I had to smile but the next time I called there was clearly some residual anger as the operator simply hung up as I got louder.

Fortunately un technico eventually turned up and declared the ADSL line OK and unfortunately my router obviously knackered. It was only just over a year old and so I disconnected it, miraculously found the box and receipt from December 2008, and set off with a team to attempt a replacement/refund. The line-up was Judith for her Italian, Bobtino for technical support and Ian for fun. Incredibly, as they didn’t have the exact replacement in the shop, they offered a full refund in goods. I left with a new simple modem, DVDs, wireless mouse and USB flash drive for Judith. So far so good, but no matter what I tried I could not stay connected to the Internet for more than 30 secs at a time.

More calls and a second technico arrived and proceeded to do what I most feared. He produced an old Windows laptop “older than his granddad” and I watched him surf the football news on La Stampa, weather, in fact all his favorite sites .The following morning Bobtino and Leslie no 2 arrived armed with their equipment and we started again. Bobtino’s Airport Express and Macbook Pro, with the latest Snow Leopard software? – Niente! Leslie 2’s older Macbook running Tiger – no problem. Quick Skype to Joel in Australia confirmed that the modem was indeed simple and crap. Another exchange at Euronics for something more sophisticated and we are again back up and running with WiFi.

The weather has been very dry but also cold which has meant that the occasional snowfall has lingered and not melted. Until this week temperatures have remained stubbornly below 0c during the day and -5 to -10c overnight but we have plenty of wood and are still discovering new wine sources.

Only last week, we decided to take a trip with Bobtino & Leslie to Gavi and Tortona to broaden our knowledge. We only arranged 3 appointments but as usual in this part of the world that was plenty. With TomTom threatening unpaved roads we set off and just after Gavi the tarmac disappeared with 4k to go. Up we went on a singe icy track with increasingly dodgy drops. After about 1k the track disappeared over a brow and the snow thickened and showed scant evidence of recent vehicles. While Bobtino and Les made their way to the top to see what it looked like I was already gingerly (no pun intended), making a 10-point turn. It wouldn’t have made any difference what they discovered as my stress level was at orange. Quick return to Gavi, a phone call and an alternative route was obtained from the producer Morgassisuperiore and only 30 minutes late we were tasting some very unusual but fantastic white wine, Timorasso: dry, minerally, complex and age-worthy. There was also a classy dessert wine, La cortesia, and before you could say Gambero Rosso we were loading boxes into the car along with ½ dozen reds that they no longer produce but gave us as a gift.

A nice worker’s lunch in a restaurant in Gavi that they recommended followed: pasta, Milanese, fruit salad, wine, water and coffee for €10! La Colombera was next on the tour near Tortona and everything was going well and we had bought some Timorasso and Nibio (another new grape to us) when an old geezer came in for a fill of his 25lt bottle. Bobtino had also noted that some of the vats were set up for “sfuso” i.e. bring your own bottles. Some people take picnics or flasks etc when out for the day but fortunately I had 15 x 2lt bottles in the back.

At €1.40 a litre it was rude not to, so 30 litres later of Barbera, Cortese, Rosato, Nibio and Bonarda (yes another new variety) we set off for our last appointment Claudio Marotto.

Claudio and his brother were hilarious and over the course of the next 2+ hours he opened at least a dozen bottles including a “choose your vintage option”. We chose 2001 from his personal collection. When it’s a good vintage he squirrels some away for himself and now has about 7,000 bottles. Salami, cheese (some toasted on the stove) helped it down and we expect to see him soon in Barbaresco for dinner. By the time I managed to get everyone back in the car, together with some purchases and free gifts it was dark and snowing. As you would expect I had been mainly spitting so driving home was not a problem.

We have also been helping the Alexanders put a new website together for their wine tours business and this should be up and running next week. Please take a look and let us know what you think or send the link to anyone you think may be interested. TheItalianWineTours.com