Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

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Daniel Moritz
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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#1 Post by Daniel Moritz »

My wife Amanda and I, along with our two sons, Dylan (6) and Cody (2) just returned from a remarkable trip to Piedmont this past Sunday and I will try to update this post over the next week or so with some of the highlights. I’ll be the first one to admit that travelling to wine regions with little kids definitely has its challenges. It took a lot of upfront planning to get this trip right, but we managed! We wanted to stay in a villa as opposed to a hotel, because we wanted an opportunity to have a real home base, where we could entertain, and have enough space that everyone would be comfortable. In this respect, and many others, Piedmont is certainly not Tuscany, a fact which I’m extremely happy about by the way. In Tuscany, villas for rent are a dime a dozen. In Piedmont, it’s nearly impossible to find. After much research, several people recommended a villa in Bonvicino, about 20 minutes from Monforte, called Villa San Lorenzo. It was a great recommendation. The owner lives in San Francisco, and made great accommodations for us, and is well known and well liked all throughout the region. This was our second trip to the region. Last time we stayed at the Relais San Maurizio, which was really a beautiful place, but was too far from the Barolo zone for my liking. The accommodations this time were perfect for us.

A couple general notes – we’ve travelled to many wine regions – all through California, Bordeaux, up and down the Rhone Valley, Tuscany, and others – nothing captures my heart, my mind and my soul like Piedmont. Its magic, and if you’ve been there you understand. The vistas as you drive through the Langhe are just stunning. The food is so genuinely delicious. The wine, well…you know how good it is. But most of all the people are just so great. The hospitality we were shown was off the charts. This trip for us was a “deep dive.” Eight nights, staying at the same home base, with a super leisurely pace. You will see, we drank some remarkable wines, and despite some truly great wines, these were not “baller events,” just an opportunity to drink amongst friends some truly magical wines. Note, I brought 3 non-local wines with me in my suitcase, and had 7 bottles dropped off at the villa from a local source. Everything else was shared courtesy of the generosity of friends.

We took the red-eye flight from NY to Milan on Friday evening, arriving in Italy Saturday afternoon on 8/20, totally weary but full of excitement. Saturday was a low key afternoon, getting accustomed to the location and the local time.

Here is a view of the surrounding area from the villa:
VSL View.jpg
We had dinner at the villa this night. The owner of the villa had arranged for a few local chefs to cook, which was a real treat. This was the only day we drank exclusively non Italian wine, since I like my nebbiolo older, and I don’t like to travel with older wine. So with dinner, we opened, drank some and saved the rest for the next day – 2012 Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie – if it wasn’t for nebbiolo, northern rhone would be my favorite wine in the world, and Jamet at the top of the list. Smoky, olive tapenade, delicious. Great, and a buy in any vintage in my opinion. And 2013 Vine Hill Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet – one of my favorite “newer” Napa cabs. Super balanced, great fruit. One of my favorite 13s so far.
VHR Jamet.jpg
The next day, Sunday 8/21, was again a low key day. Our winery visits were mainly focused from Mon-Fri, but we wanted to get our feet wet, so we had a morning appointment at Borgogno in Barolo, one of the few spots available on a Sunday morning. Quick note – on this trip, I did not take detailed notes on every wine we tried, but just jotted down general impressions. They have a really nice facility for tasting in the middle of the village of Barolo, and a beautiful view from the rooftop terrace. Here’s a photo of the view:
Borgogno View.jpg
We tasted a number of Baroli, starting at 2011 and going back to 1982, 9 in total. Overall impression – I enjoyed the house style, I would be glad to have any of these wines by the glass, but not wines I’m planning to buy long term. An enjoyable first visit of the trip though.
Borgongo Visit.jpg
We then returned to the villa for a late lunch/early dinner that would carry us into the evening. Many of us, myself included, miss Bill Klapp’s long, detailed, and often amazingly informative musings on all things Piedmont. So I reached out to Bill to join us for lunch. Additionally another friend, his wife and his son joined us as well, so we had a big crew. I’ll say, if you could believe it, Bill is way more fun in person than you would think! We had a great time, lots of stories, plenty of discussion of proper decanting methods for old nebbiolo, and some good old fashioned drinking and eating. I was not allowed to open any of my own wine, so all the wine tonight was courtesy of friends. Here’s a pic, though we didn’t drink the Gaja or Granbussia this evening.
Klapp Dinner.jpg
Cheese.jpg
The wine of the night was the 1985 Giacosa Barolo Falletto Riserva. Out of the gates, this was beautiful and remained consistently great over hours. Great sweet fruit, floral aromas, and gorgeous finish. In a perfect place. Will it get better, not sure, but nice place to drink right now. The 1978 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano was a bummer. Appeared oxidized at first. Some of the fruit showed up after a few hours, but the bottle never really arrived, which was too bad. The 1974 Monfortino was a winner, though it took a long time to get there. This really started opening up at like hour 5, and was still structured, powerful and a joy to drink. The surprise of the night was the 1967 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo. This can generally be bought pretty well, and was really good right after opening. Bottle was totally sound, great structure, aromatics and really round on the palate. Really enjoyable. If Bill was still around, I’m sure he’d have a writeup 10 times as long as mine (at least), but the sum of it was, great times, great wine.

Next installment will be our first serious day of wine tasting, Giuesppe Rinaldi and Bartolo Mascarello. Ciao!
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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#2 Post by Joshua Kates »

Great post, Daniel,

I canit wait to hear more; bring on the next installment. (I miss, most of, Bill's contributions too.)
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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#3 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Joshua Kates wrote:Great post, Daniel,

I canit wait to hear more; bring on the next installment. (I miss, most of, Bill's contributions too.)
Working on it!
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#4 Post by R M Kriete »

Pins and needles

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#5 Post by Andrew Hamilton »

Daniel Moritz wrote:Many of us, myself included, miss Bill Klapp’s long, detailed, and often amazingly informative musings on all things Piedmont. So I reached out to Bill to join us for lunch. Additionally another friend, his wife and his son joined us as well, so we had a big crew. I’ll say, if you could believe it, Bill is way more fun in person than you would think! We had a great time, lots of stories, plenty of discussion of proper decanting methods for old nebbiolo, and some good old fashioned drinking and eating. I was not allowed to open any of my own wine, so all the wine tonight was courtesy of friends. Here’s a pic, though we didn’t drink the Gaja or Granbussia this evening.
I couldn't agree more. I really miss Klapp's input on all things Barolo and Barbaresco here on WB. His knowledge of the region is superb and his willingness to share that knowledge with others without compensation is quite unique. I've actually been going back and reading some of his comments in threads that were posted last year as I find I regularly learn something new by doing so. There are plenty of opinions about Piedmontese wines on the Internet these days but many of them just don't have the historical experience and therefore authority that Klapp's perspective provides. I know there are people who don't appreciate the candor Klapp is known for in some posts but I can't help but think that we've lost much more than gained with him gone.

Thanks for posting your trip notes Daniel! I love that view from Borgogno photo, it brings back so many memories of my visit last year. And HOLY COW, that's one heck of a lineup you had over lunch! I'm sure the food was superb as well. It's a pity the '78 Giacosa didn't show well but it sounds like the red label and Monfortino made up for it. Finally, I'm not surprised by how well the F. Rinaldi showed, I've probably had more of those from the 50s-70s than any other aged Baroli (thanks Cos!). They've always shown exceptionally well, especially when you take the price point into consideration.
That sounds about right.
Probably for the best.
They had a good run.

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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#6 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Monday morning, excitement abounds! Our first of five days of morning and afternoon winery visits. Our guide joins us at the villa for breakfast in the morning. We have a little issue, he says. Augusto Cappellano called me this morning, he is sick and has to reschedule. My heart hits the floor! He says, not to worry, I moved things around and we will be visiting Giuseppe Rinaldi this morning! Phew…my internal nerd meter went from excitement, to sorrow, to excitement again! After a lovely breakfast we are off to the village of Barolo for our visit at Rinaldi.

What can I say about Giuseppe Rinaldi that folks here don’t already know? If you like traditional producers, Rinaldi is tops. The wines age beautifully, and are made with finesse and class. This was our first visit to Rinaldi, and we had the pleasure to be welcomed by Beppe’s daughter, Carlotta Rinaldi. Carlotta is a gem. Great personality, super friendly, knowledgeable, and generally cool. We spent some time walking through the cellar. Here’s a few photos of the cellar.
Rinaldi Cellar - 2.jpg
Rinaldi Cellar.jpg
Also, I now understand the meaning of Tre Tine. The photo below will show the “tre tine” which are used to hold the wine that was formerly Cannubi San Lorenzo-Ravera.
rinaldi tre tigne.jpg
Carlotta then walked us down to the family cellar. This is where my mind was blown. There are likely many people here who have more old Rinaldi than the Rinaldi family. But the reality is that they needed the funds from selling the wine to keep the business running, and as a result never built up a library for themselves. It is hard to believe that such a historic house has so limited a collection of their own wine.

Then it was time to taste some wine. Again, just brief impressions here, not detailed notes, as I tried to keep it light throughout the trip. Let me start by saying that the enthusiasm for 2015 amongst the winemakers is palpable. They are really excited across the board. Even more so with the Barbera and Dolcetto because the hail of 2014 wiped out most of the crop that year, though Nebbiolo was mainly spared (with lower yields and depending on the site). We started with the barrel samples of the 2015 Barolo. These are some stunning wines. The Brunate sample had great structure, the Le Coste sample more floral and feminine feeling, as a balance to the Brunate. The Tre Tine sample was incredibly aromatic, beautiful red fruit. All of the above are wines I will gladly own when released. We then moved to the tasting area and tried the 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo and Barbera. This was the trip where I finally “got” Barbera. I made it a point to focus on it, and found that the best producers of Nebbiolo made some really tasty Barbera. I love how it’s light in tannin but has great acidity, providing such a nice freshness yet with a great core of fruit. The 2015s that we tried on this trip were dynamite and the Rinaldi really hit the mark. We then finished with the final blends of the 2013 Barolo Brunate and Tre Tine. Super classical wines with strong tannins, great fruit, built to age. Fantastic.

I actually can’t remember if we did lunch first or went to the Barolo museum in town first, but I’ll type of the museum first. We took the kids here and it was a pretty neat spot. If you have an hour to kill in Barolo, its worth checking out. Lots of great visuals, great history, and some beautiful views from the rooftops. Here’s a few pictures from the roof.
Museum View 1.jpg
Museum View 2.jpg
Museum View 3.jpg
Lunch that day was at Barolo and Friends and later that afternoon a visit with Alan at Bartolo Mascarello, which I’ll try to finish up today as well.
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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#7 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Lunch on Monday was at Barolo and Friends in “downtown” Barolo. First a caveat on dining. We only went out for dinner twice, the notes of which I’ll get to down the road. Every other night was at the villa. Lunch – we went out every day, but generally went where it was convenient, as we had to balance timing between the schedules of our appointments, and the kids. Also a few spots we wanted to try were closed for holiday when we called, Veglio and Coccinella. Back to Monday. I had mixed feelings about this place. I liked the setting. Modern looking, fun vibe. The food varied by course. I tried to take photos of food where possible, and have some below. Raw tuna appetizer – this was quite delicious, they said it was Bluefin. Good raw preparation and nice flavors. Carne Cruda with black truffles – didn’t care for. I had much better on the trip, this was a bit too chewy. Pasta – we tried to go for Plin and Tajarin everywhere we went so that we could compare and contrast. This was middle of the road for both. Sliced veal was excellent. The veal in the Langhe is to die for when cooked appropriately. Sliced duck breast was a nice preparation but a bit overcooked. Service was good, no issues, nothing over the top. Overall mixed feelings. Solid spot if in the neighborhood but wouldn’t make a trip for it.
BF Tuna.jpg
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#8 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Okay last one of the day...

After lunch, our final stop of the day was at Bartolo Mascarello, with Alan Manley. This was our second visit here, both times with Alan. First off – Check out Ken V’s insanely detailed notes of his visit here in July. Ken did a bang up job with it, and it’s a great resource. I highly recommend the visit here. Alan is a great host. He sits everyone down at the table in the tasting parlor and does a very thorough job walking through the history of the estate, the winemaking philosophies, the concept that it’s just “one Barolo.” Following, we walk through the cellars, through both buildings, past the old concrete fermenting tanks, the large wood botti, then through the family’s wine library. Unlike Rinaldi, they have a more substantial library here. My favorite tidbit from Alan, when asking about all the different labels for some of the older wines – “they used whatever they had…even if it was a friend’s label.” Then back towards the tasting room where we tried some wine. Alan “apologized” that they had nothing to sell, and very little to open, but he shared two wines with us. First the 2015 Dolcetto d’Alba. I have to say, I was surprised how good this was for the price. I’ll reiterate that the 15 Dolcettos and Barberas that I tasted on this trip were really top notch. Then the 2012 Barolo. This was one of my top 2012s that I tried. I jotted down that it had a very feminine feeling to me, floral, some sweetness to the fruit, but pretty firm tannins here. Good finish, elegant wine. Afterwards, Maria Teresa popped in to say hi. We chatted some time about my love and appreciation for her family’s older wines, going back to the 1950s. She loved the fact that I had pictures of the empty bottles on my phone that I could share with her. We made up with Alan and his girlfriend to join us for dinner at the villa on Wednesday evening and then we bid farewell!
Mascarello 1.jpg
Mascarello 2.jpg
Mascarello 3.jpg
Mascarello Bottles.jpg
It was a great day. A perfect Piedmont day. We headed back to the villa then and hung out and played with the kids. This was our only night for the rest of the trip without any company for dinner, so Amanda and I enjoyed a quiet dinner after the kids went to bed! The two of us shared a 1999 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino, one of the bottles that I had arranged for us for the trip. It was an exquisite wine. Monumental in its power yet refinement. The tannins have smoothed out a bit, making it quite pleasurable to drink. Some licorice and menthol notes mixed with great fruit, and a wow finish. A perfect and dreamy way to end the day.

The next installment will be our journey on Tuesday, an action packed day, featuring Marcarini, lunch at Bovio, a marathon visit with Elena at Vietti, then dinner at Cesare with Luca and Elena.
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#9 Post by Dan Hammer »

Daniel Moritz wrote: “downtown” Barolo.
That about sums it up. When we were there in 2014, I sort of expected Barolo to be a big town. How could I not think that based on its wine reputation. Barolo is a small, off the beaten path town. It's not what was expected, and that was a very pleasant surprise. If anyone expects to find a Starbucks and Burger King here, forget it. This is rural Italy. flirtysmile

Waiting for the next installments. Thanks.
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#10 Post by Andrew Hamilton »

I agree Dan, on the one hand you hear people complain that Barolo is "getting too big and touristy" and yet on the other hand it's a village of 700 people. Sure, there may be more people on the streets visiting than before but I find it still has that small village Northern Italy charm.

Daniel, I'm with you 100% with the carne cruda at Barolo and Friends. It was the worst I had on the trip. I didn't like the rough / chunky cut of the meat. Every other carne cruda I had in Piedmonte was made with a much finer minced meat. As for the restaurant in general as you said it's a nice meal but as you said you wouldn't go out of your way to go there, it's more of a convenience pick.

I can't wait to hear about your meal at Cesare!
That sounds about right.
Probably for the best.
They had a good run.

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#11 Post by Ken V »

Dan Hammer wrote:... If anyone expects to find a Starbucks and Burger King here, forget it. This is rural Italy. flirtysmile
If anyone even looks for Starbucks or Burger King in Italy, then they don't deserve to go there.

When you can better food and coffee at a highway rest stop in Italy than in 95% of the restaurants in America, no one should go to an American chain there.
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#12 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Ken V wrote:
Dan Hammer wrote:... If anyone expects to find a Starbucks and Burger King here, forget it. This is rural Italy. flirtysmile
If anyone even looks for Starbucks or Burger King in Italy, then they don't deserve to go there.

When you can better food and coffee at a highway rest stop in Italy than in 95% of the restaurants in America, no one should go to an American chain there.
Funny you say that Ken. On the drive from Milan airport to the villa, my kids were starving, so we stopped at a highway rest stop to grab them something. I had a sandwich and the kids had some pasta, and you are totally correct...
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#13 Post by Daniel Moritz »

This may be all I get to before the holiday weekend here, though if we get rained in by the storm, maybe I'll do some more typing. Hope everyone stays safe and drinks well.

So Tuesday morning, once again Augusto Cappellano too sick to visit, so we shifted our morning to a visit with Marcarini, located in La Morra. Alas, Cappellano will have to wait until my next visit. I don’t drink much newer Marcarini, but I’ve very much enjoyed some of the older Marcarini –Cogno wines from the 60s and early 70s, and we had a visit at Elvio Cogno on Wednesday, so I thought the history behind the original winery would be nice to see. We were shown around by a very sweet young lady who was part of the extended family. A very traditional cellar, the large botti were quite astonishing and very old. Then they were in the middle of bottling, so we walked by the bottling machine. Let me tell you, there isn’t much more intriguing to a 6 year old boy than watching a bottling machine in action. He was absolutely enthralled! We then walked through a little courtyard into their tasting room, which actually also fronted onto a cute little street in La Morra. We tasted through the lineup, including the 2 2012 Barolo releases – Brunate and La Serra. On this day, Brunate showed a bit more complexity, but I wasn’t all that fond of either, very tight and didn’t feel like the fruit compensated for it. I preferred this producer’s Barolo that I’ve had from 2011 and 2010 over these. They did make a nice Dolcetto and Barbera that were very reasonable. And I really enjoyed their Barolo Chinato. Overall it was a lovely visit, though perhaps not quite as exciting as Monday’s visits. However my afternoon visit at Vietti would make up for it!
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#14 Post by R M Kriete »

OK Daniel.....Holiday is over...back to posting more about your visit! [wink.gif]

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#15 Post by Daniel Moritz »

After our morning visit at Marcarini, we headed a few minutes down the road for lunch at Bovio. I know I’ve read mixed reviews here especially about the service, but we had a very nice meal. The weather was perfect, crystal clear, no humidity, just a joy to sit outside. The service was quite friendly, even with our kids! Excellent wine list, we ordered a 1989 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Vignolo, which at 160 EUR, was quite reasonable. The wine was outstanding, mature notes of sweet flowers, earth, mushroom, red fruits. Beautiful place for this wine and paired well with the food. On the food – was quite good, some better than others. The carne cruda was a highlight on the apps, as well as the raw shrimp. Everyone liked the pasta, with my 6 year old, especially enjoying the Tajarin! The best main was the rabbit. We also tried the goat, but the goat we had that evening at Cesare beat it! Overall, pleasant lunch, enjoyable food and nice service. Nice and full and happy and on our way to Vietti.
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#16 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Also, here's a view from the patio where we ate. You can see how incredibly clear it was.
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#17 Post by Daniel Moritz »

We had a 3pm appointment with Elena and Luca Currado at Vietti. Many have known them far longer than us, Amanda and I only just met them for the first time at the Vietti vertical tasting that was hosted by Vinous. It was like we were family returning. They are truly wonderful people and really know how to extend hospitality. I’d first like to note that the topic of the sale never came up. I was willing to discuss it if they brought it up, but I certainly did not feel like it was my place to do so. Only time will tell on the outcome there. The way both Luca and Elena speak, you feel like they are still vested here. Luca was out with us that night until 12:30, and emailed me at 6am from the vineyard the next morning wishing we went to bed earlier! So whatever implications the sale had in Piedmont, and speaking to many other people, it definitely did, the impact it will have on the Currado’s is yet to be seen. I hope they stay just like they are now, which is really great.

As to the visit, Luca sent me an email in the morning, saying that he had to run down to Tuscany to check on the harvest for a project he is consulting for, but that Elena would take good care of us, and not to worry, he would be back for dinner! Elena spent almost three hours with us at the winery that afternoon. The property is located right in Castiglione Falletto, and is downright amazing. The vistas from outside are stunning, and the winery itself is fantastic. Rooms upon rooms on three levels (if I recall). And all the way in the back are some old tunnels that date back several hundred years. Elena showed us some bottles from the 1800s that they unearthed, though she said they were unfortunately undrinkable! After walking around, we went across the courtyard to the tasting room, where Elena poured us everything under the sun. Just a few highlights – 2015 Roero Arneis – honestly don’t drink much of any whites from Piedmont, and opened my eyes this trip, here and a few others. Great acidity, nice fruit, enjoyable. We tried several Barberas, but my favorite was the 2012 Barbera d’Asti La Crena, which had lots of richness, great lushness in the mouth and super acidity to balance it. We tried the full lineup of 2012 Barolo and Barbaresco (or as Elena called it “Barbarolo”). If not the top, this group of 2012 Nebbiolo was certainly right there, for the best 2012s we tried on the trip. They all had lots of structure, with strong grippy tannins, but lots of fruit to balance. I’m a buyer, with Rocche and Ravera tops by a smidge. We had a great time. By 6pm, we picked our palates up off the floor (we do spit at tastings and drink at meals fyi), went home to refresh, and then headed back out to da Cesare for dinner.
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#18 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Also a look at the ancient tunnels and the bottles that were unearthed.
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#19 Post by R M Kriete »

Next chapter please [cheers.gif]

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#20 Post by Claus Jeppesen »

Daniel this report is so well written and interesting. Photos are so great too. Looking forward to read more.
Piemonte is a favourite region for visiting here also. Last time we visited our sons were along, so I only visited Cavalotto, but that was worth the journey (from Castagnole M)
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#21 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Next up was Tuesday night’s dinner at da Cesare. This place is pretty special. Probably not somewhere you would go every visit, but a must visit at least once, as long as Cesare is still in the kitchen. As I’m sure has been posted before, Cesare cooks either dinner or lunch on any given day, depending on who calls first. We called first for dinner, so alas, dinner it was. There were 5 of us at our table and another table of 2 in the restaurant. It’s basically like he’s cooking for you in his house. It’s quite remarkable. We brought a bunch of wine, which I’ll get to later, and we also ordered a bottle off the list. Another wonderful detail is that he paints every menu by hand.
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For the food, most people started with a pate, which looked great, but unfortunately for me included pistachios! I’m allergic to all tree nuts, so he made me a lovely salad to start.
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Next was one of the signature dishes of the trip for me. It was a plin in brodo filled with meat and herbs. It was so delicious, pasta was just amazing and soaked up the flavor of the broth. Dynamite!
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Then a raw meat course, which was probably my least favorite, though still tasty.
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The next course was quite special and apparently one of his most famous. Peaches and Mushrooms. Hard to explain, but it was the essence of umami.
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Then the most simple yet perfectly cooked risotto. Texture was simply perfection.
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Continued in the next post because of the limit on pictures.
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#22 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Then was a coq au vin though with guinea fowl and braised in Barolo. Pictures will never do this justice, but the flavor was impeccable.
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And then the baby goat that was roasting on the spit…he came out to grab it and then carved it up in the kitchen. Again, amazing. Especially the little bit of crispy skin that I managed to snag!
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Yet for me, the best bite of the night, maybe of the trip, was his desert. Zabaione. You could hear the banging coming out of the kitchen. Then he came out and doled it out tableside. It was just perfection!
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The wines were great as well. We ordered a 1999 Gaja Gaia & Rey from the restaurant. It took a while to cool down, but once it did, it was a nice Chardonnay, though a bit too oaky for my liking. I brought a magnum of 1978 Gaja Barbaresco. Luca loved this one. He kept tapping the bottle and just saying “great wine.” Out of magnum this showed better than any of the 750s I’ve ever opened, and was just great. I brought a few surprises as well. I toted along a 2006 Sine Qua Non Syrah Shot in the Dark. This was a great pairing with the baby goat and obviously very different from the rest of the wines we drank that night. Smoky, savory, but sexy at the same time, one of my favorite SQNs. Luca and Elena brought a few middle aged Viettis to sample. We had the 1998 Brunate, 1999 Rocche, and 2004 Lazzarito. On this night the 2004 Lazzarito was my favorite with the 1999 Rocche in the running as well.
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And the final wine that I brought was for dessert, which was a gift received from a local friend, a Moscato Passito from the 1940s. There was no specific vintage but the label referenced it being made for the royal family. Either way, it was remarkably good, and was still excellent the following night.
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It was a great night, and a late night, lots of great food and wine, laughs and good times.
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#23 Post by John Morris »

I wondered if Da Cesare was still around. I had a memorable meal there in September 2002, with a roaring fire in the fireplace. It was just me and one other table -- two men from Turin the 15-year-old son of one of them. They sent over a glass of wine and then invited me to join them. A very special evening all around.

(I remember their departure, too. They were a course ahead of me, so they settled up before I was finished. "We are so sorry to leave," one said in an exaggerated tone. "But our women are waiting for us in our room." It evident from his mocking manner that there were no women with them!)
"But they told me there would be a hand basket."

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#24 Post by Andrew Hamilton »

I've been waiting for your da Cesare post Daniel. Thanks so much for sharing! Looking at your photos and thinking back on my meal there last November I can't help but get a bit nostalgic. All considered I reckon it was the best meal I've ever had. I sincerely hope I get another chance to dine there in future.
That sounds about right.
Probably for the best.
They had a good run.

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#25 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Andrew Hamilton wrote:I've been waiting for your da Cesare post Daniel. Thanks so much for sharing! Looking at your photos and thinking back on my meal there last November I can't help but get a bit nostalgic. All considered I reckon it was the best meal I've ever had. I sincerely hope I get another chance to dine there in future.
Was truly magical. Not sure how many more chances there will be before he retires for good...just another reason to head back to Piedmont...
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#26 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Wednesday morning, after a late breakfast we headed to our first appointment of the day, Elvio Cogno, in Novello, and met with Valter Fissore, Elvio Cogno’s son in law. We had previously met Valter at this past year’s La Festa, as we sat at his table. He is a great guy. Always smiling. Literally, ever minute, he’s smiling. I guess I would be if I woke up every morning with his view…
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Look how crystal clear it is, you can see the outline of the Alps in the background.

Valter showed us around the winery first. They have a great set up. Beautiful property and really clean and nicely appointed winery. Honestly one of the nicer facilities in the area.
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We then joined Valter in the tasting room. He was in a very merry mood and opened some older wines that he doesn’t normally open. We started with the 2015 Anas Cetta Nascetta. This was a really nice white. Had an expressive nose like a good viognier, but more acidity. He then opened the 2010 for us to try it with a little more age. Was really nice, more honeyed qualities on the nose but still really nice balance on the palate. Next was the 2014 Pre-Phylloxera Barbera d’Alba, which is a pretty unique wine, the name says it all. Really rich fruit, spices on the nose, with great balance and acidity balancing the fruit on the palate. One of the better Barberas of the trip. 2015 Montegrilli Langhe Nebbiolo was a great transition before the Barolo. Nice pretty easy drinking nebbiolo, rather approachable, good value. Then he pulled some Barolo, starting with the 2010 Vigna Elena Barolo Riserva. Note they are each from the Ravera cru, just different portions and different clones. Showed a lot of floral and mint characteristics and tremendous structure, a wine to save for your kids. 2004 Barolo Ravera – nice feminine nose, cherries, flowers. Pretty. 2005 Barolo Bricco Pernice – probably the best drinking of the bunch, very expressive, bit less tight on the palate than the 2004 and certainly the 2010.
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A random note – we’ve discussed previously what the ideal glass is for Nebbiolo. There is clearly no right or wrong answer, as its personal preference. I like Zalto Bordeaux glass. I would say at least half of the producers we visited (from recollection Cogno, Vietti, G Conterno and a few others) all really emphatically like the Zalto Burgundy glasses. Again just pointing this out…
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#27 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Our afternoon appointment was at Bruno Giacosa and we spent a lot of time with Valter at Elvio Cogno, so we decided to grab a quick lunch at Antica Torre in Barbaresco. The restaurant is right at the base of the tower of Barbaresco, see below and also right by Produttori. We didn’t have time to pop in there, but will add to the list for next time.
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Walked into Antica Torre and saw none other than Mr. Galloni and his son at the table next to us finishing up their lunch. Before long, the boys were at one table and we were at the other. The boys bonded over their common love of all things that little boys love, like Pokemon, Nintendo, etc…we enjoyed a nice lunch. We actually had a salad! Welcome after so much heavy food…well…then back to pasta. I enjoyed the Tajarin here, the ravioli was less exciting. We also saw one of the reps from Gaja there, who shared with us a bottle of 2013 Gaja Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo. I’ll admit it was quite fun seeing “Barbaresco” back on the label. Didn’t have much, but it was a very polished wine. It was a very nice lunch. I have to note that Antonio warned us not to use the bathroom at our morning appointment the following day at Giuseppe Mascarello…I’ll get to that later! We had previously made plans to get the kids together for dinner on Saturday night, so we bid farewell until then, us off to Giacosa and Antonio back to work! Ciao!
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I also snapped a few shots from the car on the way to Giacosa of the surrounding vineyards in Barbaresco which are below.
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That's it for me for the week. Next week will continue Wednesday's adventures with our afternoon appointment at Giacosa and a glorious dinner that evening at our villa with Alan Manley and his girlfriend Daniela, cooked by Chef Marco Battaglino.
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#28 Post by James Dennis »

Daniel,

Thanks for the vacation posts. Based on your pictures I believe we stayed at the same villa - wonderful although a bit farther away from things than I had anticipated. By the end of the week I was able to make that turn into the driveway in a minivan with only one move in reverse. I agree with you about the Piemonte. It was our first trip and there is definitely something magical about the region. The views, the wines, the food - all simply amazing. Looking forward to more posts.

James

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#29 Post by Michel Linden »

awesome
much appreciated

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#30 Post by Dan.Gord0n »

Incredible posts - thanks for the efforts in sharing with all of us. It brings me back to our wonderful trip to Piedmont two summers ago - just a wonderful area!!

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#31 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Wednesday afternoon was an appointment at Bruno Giacosa. I will note here that the winery was completely closed for vacation and Bruna did us a huge solid by having someone available to show us around. A really lovely young lady from their sales department gave us a tour of the winery and opened some bottles for us. Admittedly, I think we may have knew more about Giacosa than she did, but alas, its all good! We had a lot of fun. The new winery is actually quite modern and features some really nice architectural details.
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We spent some time walking through, checking out the old botti, etc. I usually only post pics of food and wine, but I had to post this one of me and my boys kissing the barrel holding the 2015 Barolo Falletto Le Rocche Riserva. I figured you never know which may be Bruno’s last Riserva…
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We tasted through a handful of wines, starting with the 2007 Spumante Extra Brut, which was okay to my taste, but not really that exciting. 2015 Roero Arneis – nice elegant white, nothing crazy, good acidity, nice easy drink. 2014 Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore – pretty approachable easy drinking nebbiolo. 2012 Barbaresco Asili – this was quite open, very pretty wine, great aromatics. 2011 Barbaresco Asili Riserva – I definitely felt like I tasted a different wine than Antonio, I had good color, and really sweet tannins. I thought it was quite lovely. Maybe there’s some bottle variation. Will be interesting to try again. Lastly 2012 Barolo Falletto – this was tighter upon opening than the Barbarescos, had good structure on the palate, some spice and red fruit on the nose. I think a step behind the Barbarescos for my taste at least. That was it for the day of tasting. Afterwards, we headed back to the house, did a little swimming with the kids, and then dinner, which I’ll get to next!
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#32 Post by Blair Ridley »

Daniel -

Wonderful thread. Thank you so much for taking the time to detail your journey.

Quick question -- how much difficulty did you have traveling in the region while allergic to tree nuts? Both of my sons are allergic to nuts, and I'm curious if you encountered many dishes that contained them. We were able to avoid them in France a couple of years ago, but I speak French well enough so that made it easier! I don't speak a lick of Italian but we intend to travel there at some point...

Thanks!

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#33 Post by John Morris »

Daniel Moritz wrote:We then joined Valter in the tasting room. He was in a very merry mood and opened some older wines that he doesn’t normally open. We started with the 2015 Anas Cetta Nascetta. This was a really nice white. Had an expressive nose like a good viognier, but more acidity. He then opened the 2010 for us to try it with a little more age. Was really nice, more honeyed qualities on the nose but still really nice balance on the palate. Next was the 2014 Pre-Phylloxera Barbera d’Alba, which is a pretty unique wine, the name says it all. Really rich fruit, spices on the nose, with great balance and acidity balancing the fruit on the palate. One of the better Barberas of the trip. 2015 Montegrilli Langhe Nebbiolo was a great transition before the Barolo. Nice pretty easy drinking nebbiolo, rather approachable, good value. Then he pulled some Barolo, starting with the 2010 Vigna Elena Barolo Riserva. Note they are each from the Ravera cru, just different portions and different clones. Showed a lot of floral and mint characteristics and tremendous structure, a wine to save for your kids. 2004 Barolo Ravera – nice feminine nose, cherries, flowers. Pretty. 2005 Barolo Bricco Pernice – probably the best drinking of the bunch, very expressive, bit less tight on the palate than the 2004 and certainly the 2010.
I was similarly impressed with the Nascetta and the '15 Nebbiolo when I visited 10 days ago. I was served the '14 Bricco de Merli barbera, not the pre-phylloxera, which was really rich and yummy. Interesting that both '14 barberas showed well, given that the weather was not auspicious for barbera or dolcetto.

Within the Barolo bottlings (I was served a different line-up), the Vigna Elena is a real oddball -- it's 100% the rose clone of nebbiolo, which has fallen in disfavor. No one else produces a 100% rose, as I understand it.
"But they told me there would be a hand basket."

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#34 Post by Dave Nerland »

Daniel, sound and looks like you and the family had a great trip. Pictures make me want to go to Italy again. Thank you for posting.

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#35 Post by Sherri S h a p i r o »

Daniel - thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. Looks and sounds incredible! I spent a week in Tuscany this April with my (college age) kids, and the wonderful memories will last a lifetime. I am sure you feel the same about your family vacation in Piedmont as well.

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#36 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Blair Ridley wrote:Daniel -

Wonderful thread. Thank you so much for taking the time to detail your journey.

Quick question -- how much difficulty did you have traveling in the region while allergic to tree nuts? Both of my sons are allergic to nuts, and I'm curious if you encountered many dishes that contained them. We were able to avoid them in France a couple of years ago, but I speak French well enough so that made it easier! I don't speak a lick of Italian but we intend to travel there at some point...

Thanks!
Thanks! Listen, its definitely a challenge regarding the nuts anywhere abroad. You need to be really specific. A typical conversation went like this - "okay sir, you are allergic to nuts, but what about pistachio?" Yes I'm allergic to pistachio. "But what about Pignoli (pine nuts)...surely not" Yes I'm allergic to those too... Its pretty funny, but quite scary at the same time. And needless to say, hazelnuts are everywhere.
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#37 Post by R M Kriete »

Daniel,
Are any wineries open for tasting appts on Sunday?

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#38 Post by Ian Sutton »

If allergic to nuts, then Piemonte is a pretty dangerous and difficult place.
Normal for Norfolk

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#39 Post by Daniel Moritz »

R M Kriete wrote:Daniel,
Are any wineries open for tasting appts on Sunday?
Not easy, Borgogno was open and I'm sure you could find some others, but since we had the luxury of time, we focused our appointments from Monday - Friday.
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#40 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Wednesday evening, we had Alan Manley and his girlfriend Daniela over for dinner at our villa, which was cooked by the amazing Marco Battaglino. Marco’s restaurant is Osteria Battaglino in Dogliani. While I haven’t been to the restaurant, his cooking at the villa was awesome. I took pictures of a few of the courses.

Grilled octopus, off the charts.
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Porcinis, which by the time I got a picture, were half gone…
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One of the best pasta dishes I had all trip.
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Whole roasted chickens stuffed with potatoes, carved tableside.
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You could see from the last picture a few of the wines we drank. 1982 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino was awesome. And kept building in awesomeness the longer it sat in the decanter. 1990 Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia was pretty stellar as well. Definitely bigger and a little sexier than the Monfortino, maybe not as complex. Hard to go wrong. Surprise of the evening was the 1967 Calissano Barolo, which was a gift from Mr. Klapp earlier in the trip. This had a few hours in the decanter off the dregs, and was really quite fantastic. In fact, Alan emailed me a few days ago that he found some old Calissano and was pretty pumped! Additionally, Alan graciously brought a 2001 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, which he said was a gift from Maria Teresa. He actually brought a backup because he had noted some of the bottle variation. The one we opened was a very good bottle, nice red fruit, great structure, really nice.

Overall, it was a really fun night, we hung out for several hours, eating, drinking and generally just having a great time. Alan and Daniela are really great, as is chef Marco! I should also add that he made a zabaione with Barolo that was so unique and delicious, no pic. Here’s a picture of the damage at the end of the night! Ciao!
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#41 Post by Jason_H »

Daniel Moritz wrote: I have to note that Antonio warned us not to use the bathroom at our morning appointment the following day at Giuseppe Mascarello…I’ll get to that later!
That's funny. That bathroom isn't too bad for the gentlemen that just need to pee. Would'nt be too excited as a lady in that bathroom though.
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#42 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Thursday was another great day! I call it “A Tale of Two Cellars.” You couldn’t visit two more different cellars than we did this day, with Giuseppe Mascarello in the morning and Giacomo Conterno in the afternoon. After a really great night, we headed out for a late morning visit at Giuseppe Mascarello, which is located in Monchiero.
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We were hosted by Mauro’s daughter, Elena Mascarello, who was really extremely sweet. Her mom also came to say hi and ended up playing with my 2 year old. Very nice people. We started off with the tasting and tried three different wines. 2013 Dolcetto d’Alba Mirasole and the 2012 Barbera d’Alba Scudetto to start. Both very nice wines, easy drinkers, good stuff if I saw on a wine list or by the glass.
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Then we finished with the 2010 Barolo Monprivato. I have to say, it was pop and pour, and the tannins were overwhelming. Was tough to get a good feel for it, I think it needed a lot more time in a decanter, or it’s a wine I’d like to revisit in quite some time. But very closed on this day.
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Anyway, then we went for a tour of the winery. Well…my son really had to go to the bathroom…so Amanda took him, seemingly forgetting Antonio’s advice from the day before. She came out with Dylan and whispered in my ear “you take the tour, we’ll meet you outside.” So I toured myself after that while Dylan finished going to the bathroom in the river outside!!!! The rest of the facility was very simple, clearly quite old. And they had the largest barrel I’ve ever seen in my life!
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With that, I met everyone else outside at the car. Elena and her mom were both quite lovely and excellent hosts. We had lunch at Centro Storico this day and had some time to kill, so we decided to drive out to Castiglione Falletto and check out the Monprivato vineyard.
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#43 Post by Daniel Moritz »

Here is a photo of Monprivato.
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On the other side of the street is Bricco Boschis of Cavallotto fame, which is below.
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I’ll get to the rest of this installment next week. The rest of this day consisted of lunch at Centro Storico, afternoon with Roberto Conterno and then dinner in Alba at Piazza Duomo. Ciao!
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#44 Post by Andrew Hamilton »

Daniel Moritz wrote:Then we finished with the 2010 Barolo Monprivato. I have to say, it was pop and pour, and the tannins were overwhelming. Was tough to get a good feel for it, I think it needed a lot more time in a decanter, or it’s a wine I’d like to revisit in quite some time. But very closed on this day.
I looked at the 2010 Monprivato twice last year, both times pop and pour. It was stunning on both occasions. It shut down hard after a couple hours but it was really good on opening. Given your note I suspect it's now fully shut down and will need years to come around but I'm ok with that. Regardless of what other people say I'm personally a big believer in the 2010 Monprivato. I've only got a couple bottles but I'm content to hold them until at least 2025, if not longer.
That sounds about right.
Probably for the best.
They had a good run.

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#45 Post by Andrew Hamilton »

Speaking of Giuseppe Mascarello, was there any indication of when they'll release the 2010 Ca d'Morissio?
That sounds about right.
Probably for the best.
They had a good run.

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#46 Post by John Morris »

Andrew Hamilton wrote:
Daniel Moritz wrote:Then we finished with the 2010 Barolo Monprivato. I have to say, it was pop and pour, and the tannins were overwhelming. Was tough to get a good feel for it, I think it needed a lot more time in a decanter, or it’s a wine I’d like to revisit in quite some time. But very closed on this day.
I looked at the 2010 Monprivato twice last year, both times pop and pour. It was stunning on both occasions. It shut down hard after a couple hours but it was really good on opening. Given your note I suspect it's now fully shut down and will need years to come around but I'm ok with that. Regardless of what other people say I'm personally a big believer in the 2010 Monprivato. I've only got a couple bottles but I'm content to hold them until at least 2025, if not longer.
I tasted there three weeks ago and it showed very well, with a powerful bouquet and relatively soft tannins. My glass was poured from the end of a bottle and I asked Mauro how long it had been open. He checked the note on the bottle, did a little calculation, and then said it was opened on Friday -- six days earlier! And I don't believe that had been at cellar temperature either; they aren't very fastidious about that sort of thing. (This is in contrast to pretty much all the other places I visited, where they were careful to keep open bottles in the cellar or in coolers, and many use Coravins.)

Mauro said of the wine, "e nato chiuso" -- it was born closed. But that six days opened surely loosened it up. I would imagine that it would have shown even better on day three or four.
Last edited by John Morris on September 19th, 2016, 6:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#47 Post by John Morris »

Ken V wrote: When you can better food and coffee at a highway rest stop in Italy than in 95% of the restaurants in America, no one should go to an American chain there.
Have you been to one of the recently made-over Autogrills? The food was always good, but we stopped at one near Parma three weeks ago that was amazing. The focus was on Emilia-Romagna cuisine -- ingredients, pasta shapes, etc.! And the interior design was like an upscale gourmet venue (think Eataly).

I couldn't help thinking that it they put a couple of these on I-95 on the Northeast Corridor, they would become meccas for foodies, sort of like LL Bean used to be for college students in New England.
"But they told me there would be a hand basket."

"I penciled in half an hour to suffer fools tomorrow, but now I’m thinking I might bump it out until Monday." -- @duchessgoldblat

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Daniel Moritz
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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#48 Post by Daniel Moritz »

John Morris wrote:
Andrew Hamilton wrote:
Daniel Moritz wrote:Then we finished with the 2010 Barolo Monprivato. I have to say, it was pop and pour, and the tannins were overwhelming. Was tough to get a good feel for it, I think it needed a lot more time in a decanter, or it’s a wine I’d like to revisit in quite some time. But very closed on this day.
I looked at the 2010 Monprivato twice last year, both times pop and pour. It was stunning on both occasions. It shut down hard after a couple hours but it was really good on opening. Given your note I suspect it's now fully shut down and will need years to come around but I'm ok with that. Regardless of what other people say I'm personally a big believer in the 2010 Monprivato. I've only got a couple bottles but I'm content to hold them until at least 2025, if not longer.
I tasted there three weeks ago and it showed very well, with a powerful bouquet and relatively soft tannins. My glass was poured from the end of a bottle and I asked Mauro how long it had been open. He checked the note on the bottle, did a little calculation, and then said it was opened on Friday -- six days earlier! And I don't believe that had been at cellar temperature either; they aren't very fastidious about that sort of thing. (This is in contrast to pretty much all the other places I visited, where they were careful to keep open bottles in the cellar or in coolers, and many use Coravins.)

Mauro said of the wine, "e nato chiuso" -- it was born closed. But that six days opened surely loosened it up. I would imagine that it would have shown even better on day three or four.
Interesting...not sure exactly when you were there but there is probably a good chance it was the rest of our bottle :)
Daniel Moritz

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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#49 Post by John Morris »

[highfive.gif]

I was there Sept. 1. I'll post fuller notes eventually in the thread on my trip.
"But they told me there would be a hand basket."

"I penciled in half an hour to suffer fools tomorrow, but now I’m thinking I might bump it out until Monday." -- @duchessgoldblat

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Daniel Moritz
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Our Summer Trip to Piedmont - 2016

#50 Post by Daniel Moritz »

John Morris wrote:[highfive.gif]

I was there Sept. 1. I'll post fuller notes eventually in the thread on my trip.
So we were there exactly one week before you. Its possible Mauro missed his calc by a day and it was the same bottle!
Daniel Moritz

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