Advice for August Piedmont Trip

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wbeshears
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Advice for August Piedmont Trip

#1 Post by wbeshears » February 2nd, 2019, 10:49 am

This year I'm trying to plan a trip to Italy in late August and early September, and would like to spend 4-5 days in Piedmont to get more familiar with the wine of the region. Ideally I would like to go at a different time of year, but in my industry the last week in August is by far the "safest" week to be out of the office, so late August it is. I've never been to Piedmont before, am relatively unfamiliar with Barolo/Barbaresco/Langhe wines, and the purpose of this leg of the trip would be to really dive in to touring the region and tasting wines (2-3 a day, I'd think?). I've gone through a lot of the previous threads on this forum but still had a few questions you guys might be able to help with...

1) Getting Around: I've found traveling to a region, seeing the topography, walking the vineyards, eating and sleeping there, etc. gives me a great feel and appreciation for the place that helps "put a face to" my knowledge of the wine. So historically I've hired a guide/driver for the trip who knows where to go, can provide insight along the way, and (importantly) allows me to indulge a bit and have fun when tasting without having to worry about driving myself [cheers.gif] . Does anyone have guide recommendations? It seems like in most of the prior threads, folks drove themselves around or walked, so maybe another question is whether it's a bad idea to get a guide in Piedmont to begin with?

2) Accommodation: Two places have been recommended to me in the region, although by friends who were not on wine-tasting trips - Relais San Maurizio southeast of Barbaresco and Castello di Sinio east of Barolo. I didn't see either referenced in prior threads, but does anyone have experience with those properties?

3) Winery Recs: Of course I should also ask for can't-miss wineries to visit. In late August, I figure some owners may be away on vacation before the harvest, but I want to try to hit the high notes. The only producer whose wine I know well at all is Roagna, and then of course (but mainly by reputation) Gaja, but that's pretty much it.

4) Shipping Wine: On all my other trips the wineries (or guide's companies) have waited until the fall and shipped wine for me, albeit not always at bargain prices. In previous threads I didn't see a ton of discussion about shipping, so I just want to make sure I'm not walking in with the wrong assumption that if I buy some wine it can be shipped back to the US. I'll be leaving Piedmont for the Italian lakes and then on to Asia before returning home so lugging wine with me is unfortunately not a very convenient option.

Thanks in advance for the advice and help! [thankyou.gif]
-W.i.l.l B.e.s.h.e.a.r.s-
NY, NY

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John Webber
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Re: Advice for August Piedmont Trip

#2 Post by John Webber » February 8th, 2019, 12:43 pm

1) I don't think a guide would be a bad idea. When we went in 2013, the cellular maps were hot garbage in the area and would often send you to the wrong place, the wrong direction down donkey cart sized streets with active markets, and the like. I backed into a wall on one of those stupid streets. :(

2) No knowledge. We stayed at the b&b belonging to Giuseppe Cortese in Barbaresco and had no complaints. Wonderful family and accommodations.

3) Outside of our hosts, our best visits were G. Conterno, G. Rinaldi, Altare, and Cavallatto. Cogno, Vajra, and Produttori provided some nice filler. Scheduling can be a royal pain. Some still use fax and are very slow to respond.

4) Wineries didn't ship. There was a UPS store in one of the main towns that everybody uses though. IIRC, they held wine for us a couple of weeks since we visited in late August or early September.

Enjoy!

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richard ritter
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Re: Advice for August Piedmont Trip

#3 Post by richard ritter » February 9th, 2019, 10:00 am

I can wholeheartedly endorse Castillo de Sinio.I have stayed there many times and it is great.The owner,Denise, is an expat who restore an old castello beautifully.She is most knowledgeable about the wines and dinning in the area.She also can arrange guides.I stayed there in October and Antonio Galloni was a guest there.We had an excellent driver name Daniela Maracine(daniela-maracine@hotmail.it).Having a driver was key.

Patrick T
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Joined: January 27th, 2019, 6:59 am
Location: Crawfordsville, IN

Re: Advice for August Piedmont Trip

#4 Post by Patrick T » February 11th, 2019, 7:54 pm

My .02...

1) Getting around: My wife and I rented a car and brought a Garmin with pre-loaded European maps. (Pro tip: preload your itinerary before you get there.) Having a car was great as we didn't have to depend on a fixed schedule. Caveat: my wife doesn't drink, so she drove one afternoon when I was unable.

2) Accommodations: We stayed at an inexpensive AirBnB in Barbaresco for 2 nights. It was adequate and we could walk to town. The best part was the host kindly booked a few wineries and restaurants in advance (not just in Barbaresco, either). That was really nice.

3) Winery Recs: I was there for Barbaresco a Tavola on a Friday night, followed by a big tasting at the local wine commune in La Morra on Saturday afternoon. Most of the small towns have a local cantina where most of the wineries are represented, with a few bottles open for tasting. We tried to get into Elio Altare but they were closed for a private event. Wine Berserkers is great for winery recs. Search the Travel Forum for "Piedmont" and you'll get a ton of great trip reports.

4) Shipping wine: No help here, as I schlepped back 12 bottles in a 1970s era suitcase that just so happened to perfectly fit a pair of styrofoam six packs. I noticed you're in NYC; my thinking would be you can just buy when you get home.

Have fun!
Longtime lurker.

WOTY 2018
2011 Vidon Pinot Noir Barrel Select
2010 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Elizabeth's Reserve
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Patrick Taylor

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