My wife and I are headed back to Piedmont (first visit since 2016) for a week in November. While we’re far from experts, we’re far from novices and enjoying and collecting wine is our major hobby, with Nebbiolo being our favorite grape. Last time we were in Piedmont we had several friends in the wine industry who were able to connect us with insiders for tours and tastings that went beyond the usual fare. We’ve since lost touch with many of those friends, or they have moved on to other careers, so I’m here to see if anyone in this fine forum has recommendations or contacts I could engage with for something that goes beyond the norm? We try to be gracious guests, and typically bring small bottles of Bourbon to gift our tasting guides. We’re staying in Alba and have a car so easy enough to get anywhere in the region. Many thanks in advance!
I’m sorry but I can’t hook you up with someone “on site”. I also fear that by looking online you’d find a lot of very “touristy” kind of tours. Langhe area is becoming increasingly more tourist, as I was mentioning in another thread. You also have language barrier that prevents you from interacting with old school producers (with REAL old school producers you’d have an hard time even if you were somewhat proficient in Italian).
I’m planning (not for this year) a visit to Trediberri, because I have a link with the producer but also because I like the “vibe” I get from seeing Nicola’s video. The reason why I think it might be worth considering? He’s around 40 yo and can speak english.
I would definitely recommend not going solely for prestigious names in the region, but being prepared to gamble on some lesser known producers. We’ve had some wonderful experiences by doing this, with no duds that I can recall.
With a car, everywhere is in range, but Barbaresco villages especially.
A great starting point is the excellent regional tourist site www.langheroero.it, which has extensive winery listings including days they’ll accept appointments, languages spoken etc.
@Michael_Modise, I second the www.langheroero.it website. It is great.
As for reservations, if you are a regular at a local wine shop, I would start there. I was able to get a couple of nice insider-y things through the GM of a shop I frequent.
I would also ask your lodging host. Our AirBnB host in Barbaresco arranged several tastings and restaurant reservations. Granted, I wasn’t asking her to get me in at Gaja, but she did arrange tastings at 2 of the 3 producers I was wanting to check out. (Elio Altare was closed for a private function.) And we enjoyed three spectacular meals thanks to her efforts – Il Centro in Priocca, Bovio in La Morra, and Ristorante Antine in Barbaresco.
You are wise to bring small gifts. Aldo Vacca’s face lit up when I gifted him an IPA from Indiana. The tasting was just ok, lol.
Some towns have an enoteca with a daily assortment of open bottles. They also spoke English and made a phone call for me when we had some unexpected free time.
I also brought along a one-page version of this English to Italian tasting notes glossary, http://www.aromadictionary.com/trans-i-e.pdf.
Between that, my extremely limited Italian, and a smile, I got along just fine.
Please do a trip report so we can vicariously enjoy your experience!
No insider access but can share a few highlights from our trip. Elio Grasso and F Alessandria were terrific visits/tours and would highly recommend. Vietti was a very good tour and we tasted a lot of wines including 3 of the Cru Barolo. Cavallotto also a solid tour and got to taste 2 of the 16 Riserva’s. Both were worth visiting but felt a bit scripted. We wanted to get to Azelia but couldn’t make the schedule work.
Our favorite restaurant was Osteria Veglio right outside La Morra. I’d start booking now as winery visits and restaurants usually book 2-3 months in advance.
One more thought @Michael_Modise.
Are you aware of the wiki style thread that @Pat_Burton created / curated here, detailing forumite perspectives of where different producers lean on the traditional vs. modernist spectrum?
Whilst it’s very much a moving target, as winemakers experiment, tweak and indeed change, it’s a very useful resource if looking for wines in a particular style, or to do as we did one year in La Morra - Annunziata, to taste across the spectrum. It’s even useful in it’s most basic form, of a remarkably extensive list of producers in the region, helping to spread the interest beyond the most well-known producers.
I’ve worked with a great guide in Piedmont in the past. He’s a wonderful guy. Sandro Minella. You can find him on instagram on his name or Taste Your Way, which is his company.
The owner is a Berserker.