Tasting Wine in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy
In late June, Megan and I went to northern Italy for her sister’s wedding in Valenza, and we could not pass up a chance to do some wine tasting while we were there! We stayed at a bed and breakfast in the small town of Sinio which is right in the heart of the Barolo wine region aptly named Hotel Castello di Sinio. It was fantastic and beautiful as you can see from the picture. One of the proprietors is a chef and she is a fantastic one at that. Our first night there we had an amazing dinner on sight, with a great wine from the winery that we were going to visit the next day, with vineyards that we could see from our dinner table.
Hotel Castello Di Sinio
Just a quick mention of wine tasting in northern Italy. It is slightly different than we are used to here in Virginia and California and so on. Wine tastings are done by appointment only but are very welcome. It is usually done with the winemaker and lasts for over an hour closer to 2, and include touring the winery and vineyard and a fabulous private tasting.
The next morning we made the “long” ten minute drive across the way to our 1st of 2 wineries that we would visit in Piemonte. Rivetto is located in the Barolo wine region of the Piemonte in Northern Italy. The major grape there is Nebbiolo, also grown are Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis, Moscato to name a few.
Our wine guide through Rivetto was Enrico, one of 2 brothers that currently run winery operations. He started our tour in the vineyard (see pics below), showing us all 90 acres and pointing out each individual lot and what grape variety we were looking at.
(Top photo)Vineyards at Rivetto
(Bottom photo) Dolcetto vines at Rivetto with the town of Seralunga in the distance
Next we headed into the winery, which as you would imagine looks like other wineries you may have visited. One slight difference is that in Piemonte they tend to use large casks in addition to the smaller 60 gallon oak barrels (barriques) that in the US we are used to seeing. In this case, the casks are made of Slovenian oak (see below) which do not impose a huge oak flavor on the wine, they are a more neutral oak, similar to French Oak that has been used for several vintages. They impart the softening characteristics that barrel aging provides but not the wood notes.
Now onto the wine….
The wine tasting was done in the “tasting room” which was really more of a dining room, similar to the tasting room at Caymus for those that have been. Enrico opened 4 bottles for us to try, after a quick rinse of the glass we were on our way. Now, also, these weren’t your normal tasting room ½ ounce tastes, these were good 2+ ounce tastings so that you could really get some wine in your mouth and swirl it around.
2005 Dolcetto d’ Alba – very nice, easy drinking red wine with bright raspberry on the nose with a soft cherry finish.
2004 Barbera – (60 year old vines) 1 yr. in bottle – extremely smooth, raspberry, vanilla, strawberry and plum.
2003 Barberesco (I know you are thinking…he said they were in Barolo how can they make Barberesco…they have Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barberesco zone) – strawberry, dirt and earth, anise on the mid palate, long finish. MMMM
2003 Barolo “Leon” – (the Leon is the vineyard designate) – Blackberry, earth, huge tannins, long blueberry finish. This thing rocked!!
Enrico getting our wines ready to taste
Megan tasting some Barberesco..yummy!
The wines were all outstanding, not a bad one in the bunch that is for sure. I am definitely becoming a huge fan of Piemonte wines.
All of this was free, the whole experience lasted about 1 ½ hours, we left with 2 bottles of the Barolo “Leon” and 1 bottle of the Dolcetto. We would have bought more because they were an absolute steal compared to the price that we pay for good Barolos here, but we didn’t have enough room in our bags. The experience was fantastic, very personal, excellent wine, we weren’t rushed and it was Megan and I with the winemaker, free to ask all the questions we wanted to with plenty of time to day dream about having a winery of our own in Piemonte…..
Check back soon for winery number 2 on the trip– Rizzi from Barberesco!