Two friends and I will be staying in Turin from Sept 7-9. We want to do a day trip to Piedmont region to visit one or two wineries. Unfortunately, we don’t speak Italian very well. Any recommendations? So far, I have just emailed Vietti.
Elio Grasso. They speak English beautifully. It’s a very nice tasting experience.
I don’t speak a lick of Italian and had a great time at Cavallotto, G Rinaldi, G Conterno, Cogno, Altare, Vajra, and G Cortese.
The http://www.langheroero.it tourist info site has a big listing of wineries and what languages are spoken, though sometimes ‘English’ means a son or daughter who may be at school or college when you visit. I don’t know if one of you will be driving, but if sensible you can find 2-3 wineries in walking distance, and hence park the car up at your lunchtime restaurant, then stroll between the wineries. The walking plus a good lunch means the designated driver can at least do a little tasting themselves.
How are you for ideas of stuff to do / see in Torino? It’s a favourite city of ours, so can give a few ideas if you’re looking for something specific.
Thanks for the recommendations! I’m emailing a lot of producers now to check their availability. Would it be better to call them instead?
I would love to get some recommendations. We haven’t done too much planning for it yet, just wrote down some standard spots to visit. We’re not especially into museums, but rather prefer doing a lot of walking to get a sense of a city, as well as food-wine-beer related destinations.
Turin to the wineries is about an hour and a half each way so I’d look to do concentrate on doing two bigger ones, that have a wide range of wines to taste, with a leisurely lunch imbetween.
Vietti is a great choice (if you can get in).
I’d suggest Produttori del Barbaresco (so you can taste through the 9 '11 Riservas). If you had time you could squeeze in a quick visit to Cantina del Pino (just down the road). (An alternative would be Marchesi di Gresy, who also have a wide range of interesting wines).
In Barbaresco you could have lunch in the excellent Antica Torre (an even go up the tower itself - I understand it’s now open).
Alternatively another great place for lunch is Centro Storico, Serralunga, not too far for Vietti.
Please PM me if you want contact details for any of these three Barbaresco wineries.
Are there any Liguria wineries worth stopping at? That’s my next destination after Turin/Piedmont.
Here’s the crib-sheet (attached) I’ve built up over the years. I’ve not been to all these places, far from it, though my partner might argue I’ve dragged her everywhere across the city by now.
There are some very decent wine bars / enoteche in the city, my favourite being Antica enoteca del Borgo, over the river near the Gran Madre church (wedding scene in the original Italian job movie). Unlike most bars/wine bars, they don’t do an aperitivo spread of food - however it’s my favourite as it’s so relaxed to drink interesting wine and have a browse of the shelves as well.
Rossorubino is handily placed near Stazione Porta Nuova, and despite shutting relatively early, does pretty decent food and has a decent wine selection in the shop. They even have some colourful gel wine cooler carry bags which we still use.
Enoteca Bordo (Via Carlo Ignazio Giulio, 4) was a new discovery the time before last. Impressive wine shop with a pleasant but not overlarge aperitivo buffet, and a few wines by the glass. We’ll go back here again I’m sure.
Tre Galli was one of the first places we went to in Torino, and after a big break we went back again, and the wine list is a treat with some very fair value (reasonably) mature wines. The food was pretty modestly priced, but what we had was good. It does seem to lack the buzz of years ago, when it did more of a trade as a wine bar + food, rather than a place that is much more a restaurant now.
We’re fans of Taverna dell’Oca on Via dei Mille. Not a flash place, and the wine list is good but not special (there are much better wine lists in the city). We’ve just had a number of very nice meals in there, and like the tasty but unpretentious style. I notice there is now a place called Valle d’Aosta food a few doors down, so that’s going on the crib sheet to try next time.
C’era una volta has its fans (we’ve not been), and sounds like an ideal place if you want a dyed-in-the-wool Piemontese meal.
For other stuff, the market up at the northern edge of the centre is very big, and barring around Stazione Porta Nuova, the only place I know in the city that has a bit of edge to it. Nothing like Napoli or Palermo of course, but I’d suggest having a modest degree of caution (but no more - the city is only recently awakened to tourism, and it hasn’t seemed to develop active pickpockets). There are a lot of average stalls, but some good mushroom stalls up in the north-eastern corner (alongside Via Regina Margherita), and indeed some other interesting foods up there. In one of the older buildings there is a good cheese stall, happy to vacuum pack cheeses and oddly offering a small discount for credit cards - I recall when Italy really didn’t seem to trust credit cards, though I suppose their hatred of gli spiccioli (small change) may explain this.
Museo Pietro Micca is a quirky little place. There is a basic museum of the sieges of the city (usually by the French), but the real appeal is the counter-mining tunnels of which a few have been renovated & opened to the public. It’s by Porta Susa station and I’d definitely recommend it.
Trams, buses & Metro. You can buy daily tickets for these (ask for un biglietto giornaliero), or look at the tourist ‘Torino pass’. Or just buy strips of tickets, but I’ve not done this for a while. For the day ticket, stamp it once at the start of the 1st journey in the on-board machines, and it’s then valid for the rest of that calendar day (i.e. not the next 24 hours). There are regular ticket checks and these always seem to identify 3-4 non-payers. The Metro is still pretty limited (and I very much prefer the trams/buses). Maps are online at the GTT site, and in theory the GTT office should have free maps, but they never seem to have them in stock, and tabaccherie are often the only places who’ll have them. The maps are very useful indeed, but many stops do have the maps pinned up.
The Turismotorino website often has lots going on, and I keep meaning to take one of their organised tours of local producers (from Fiat, through Lavazza, to Leone sweets and breweries).
Finally, Eataly out at the Lingotto gives me mixed feelings. There are better specialist food shops scattered across the city (see the attachment for many of them), and it is more commercial than it was styled to be (Slow Food were very supportive). However there is a lot there, and I tend to use it on the last day there to fill a few gaps in the foods I’m looking to take home, and it’s not difficult to find interesting stuff to buy. The food / food service is closer to fast food than I’d like, and I’d not recommend it. Overall this is NOT a food temple, but it is a very good supermarket - perhaps the best supermarket in the world?
Please ask if there are any other questions you have, such as buses from airport into city, or where the car hire places are, or just anything you’d like to know about before you go.
Torino doc.pdf (465 KB)
It depends where you’ll be in Liguria. The most prestigious / pricey wine locally is Sciacchetra (pronounced something like Sha-Ketra), which is made from dried grapes and I’m not entirely sure translates that well away from the region. (Rossese) di Dolceacqua from the village Dolceacqua, is an interesting red worth trying if you see it. A few producers but I’ve only come across Maccario Dringenberg who have a charmingly old-school label.
Around the Cinque Terre it is mostly simple whites cultivated on decidedly un-simple slopes (plus the Sciacchetra). Not somewhere I’d go chasing producers, and instead I’d swing into going for carafe wines and saving the effort for Piemonte. If that’s where you’re heading, I’ll put in a good word for Portovenere, a short boat ride from Riomaggiore. Any easy stroll around, but (though I can’t remember where) there was a really decent enoteca serving the typically small but excellent plates of food that good enoteche do so well. Plus of course wines by the glass. Also a good word for the evening Passeggiata in La Spezia (an otherwise pretty humdrum place). Just like Recco near Genova, it is often the untouristy places that have the most vibrant & joyful early evening strolls, with families & friends catching up on news and parading babies to approving looks. It’s a great insight into this great tradition.
[Edit] That’s a bit harsh of me on Ligurian wines, as there is also good Pigato & Vermentino, plus their own take on Dolcetto. Also corrected a typo.
The following wineries answered me so far and have times available:
- GD Vajra
- Elio Grasso
Probably can’t visit all of them, so which ones should I prioritize? Most are in Barolo. Unfortunately, Vietti and Produttori haven’t replied yet.
Normally I’d be looking for proximity, but there is a bit of a distance between each of them:
A great range of styles from La Spinetta (Modernist, with great Moscato wines as well), through to Borgogno who are near to the opposite of the modernist / traditionalist range. That’s good IMO and we’ve done that breadth of style before, (I believe) much to the bemusement of the wineries who were almost all interested to hear where else we had visited.
Although many here actively dislike La Spinetta, I’d say try them. FWIW I enjoyed what I tasted, however they are richer than the norm, and IMO somewhat overpriced.
Cavallotto impress me across the range, and their Vigna Scot Dolcetto is probably the Dolcetto that impressed me the most.
No bad producers in your list IMO, but you may want to either choose based on style, or perhaps taste across the extremes to really get a feel for what was a battleground for hearts and minds, which is now generally into reconciliation.
Assuming you do go into Barolo, I’d recommend channelling your inner wine geek and buying one of the Enogea vineyard maps of the region. Perfect to hang up in a man cave.
You can get a good indication of what wines may be poured and relative location from my wine travel blog: Piemonte (Piedmont) | Wine Travel Around The World
I know it is too late, but for future reference Cavallotto is a must and Produttori has a tasting room in Barbaresco that has regular hours. Sorry for the late response.
Thank you for all the wonderful information! Would anyone have a recommendation for a village or small town to stay in? I am looking for a place that I could stay in the town proper, probably not an Agro, and within easy walking distance to at least a few restaurants. I expect we will do a day trip to Alba, but it is probably a larger town than we are looking to stay in. Conversely, I am concerned that a village of 1000 may be too small and lack enough walking distance options. Upon limited searching Neive seemed to be an option with a population of 3000. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
We’ve not stayed in Neive but it does sound like the sort of place you’re looking for, and has Barbaresco vineyards in very easy reach.
Don’t discount Treiso, as although very small, has 4 great dining options, from Michelin fancy, through two genuine & good trattoria, and a wine bar that serves good food as well.
Monforte has good dining options and is a decent enough size, but still walkable to some very fine wineries. La Morra is another option worth a look, as there are lots of wineries in walking distance, plus restaurants / wine bar(s)
FWIW I find Barbaresco and (especially) Barolo villages themselves increasingly touristy. Good for hotel availability, but I get more enjoyment from the other villages in those wine regions.
I like your thinking of planning for walking, as even with a car, that means someone has to have an evening meal with just a single glass of wine. That same thinking can extend to wineries, and it is quite feasible to plan winery visits where it’s all on foot. That can include fitting in a walk through the vineyards, and this can be a nice option after lunch, especially if lunching early.
thank you very much Ian!
Some reading material that you may find useful before the trip: How to Do A Barolo Day Trip from Turin - Girl's Gotta Drink
The whole blog is written by an American expat who lives in Piedmont.
Great visits for us at:
All in English.
Cioa, ragazzi -
Thanks to Paul from lazenne.com for mentioning my site on Piedmont wine and travel. For anyone coming to the area, here are a few resources you might find useful:
Getting around Barolo and Barbaresco, Getting Around Barolo and Barbaresco - Girl's Gotta Drink
Barolo Wine Tour Planning: Things to know before you go, Barolo wine tour planning - Girl's Gotta Drink
Please reach out if you have questions on visiting here. I started coming here as at wine traveler, so I know it can be hard to navigate at times!
Saluti! Valerie, http://girlsgottadrink.com/