This is a unique opportunity not only to taste two hundred of the best Barolos and Barbaresco, ready for the journey to their connoisseurs, but also a rare luck of meeting face to face with the great Piedmontese winemakers.
The uniqueness of this much-anticipated tasting is that, unlike the closed events for the press and professionals of the wine sector, only here and only on this day are the doors open to everyone. And what doors! It is no coincidence that Barolo is called the king of wines and wine for kings, and the most suitable place for such an event is the royal palaces. As a rule, these are former royal residences, where from the first steps it takes your breath away from the beauty and importance of what is happening. Indeed, the wines, which are considered some of the best in the world, are in themselves a cultural and historical value of Piedmont.
In recent years, this exquisite tasting has been organized in the recently renovated former country residence of the Savoy royal family Reggia Venaria Reale, which is called the Versailles of Turin. The actual tasting of the best Barolos and Barbaresco takes place in the stunningly beautiful pearl of this palace – the Diana Gallery, the creation of the architect Juvarra.
Meetings take place at Turin Versailles – Reggia Venaria Reale
It is easy to lose touch with reality here when you look at the jewelry snow-white stucco moldings on the walls and ceiling or at the Versailles gardens and fountains outside the window. The high emotional component of these tastings is a special pleasure. Note that this event is not particularly advertised, especially abroad, so I am pleased to share this information with the readers of Noble Wine.
As a member of the AIS Piemonte working group since 2000, I was fortunate enough to take part in the organization of these events, from year to year expand my horizons, get acquainted with wines and the winemakers themselves, who are often called great, visit them at home or work, closer and closer. to get acquainted with their wines – in an obligatory connection with the territory and history of Piedmont. Let’s start with Piedmont.
Piedmont and Turin
Today Piemonte is experiencing a real tourist boom. Despite the unique natural conditions, rich history and culture, exquisite cuisine and excellent wines, Piedmont, well known to noble people from all over the world, until recently was practically closed for mass tourism.
After the 2006 Winter Olympics, there has been a significant breakthrough in this direction, and the flow of tourists to Piedmont is growing steadily. The name itself – Piedmont – means “at the foot of the mountains.” This region stretches from the foothills of the Alps, separating it from France and Switzerland to the Apennines in the south, which form a natural border with Liguria, and on Lake Maggiore and the Ticino River, Piedmont borders on Lombardy.
You shouldn’t be surprised – this region offers an incredibly rich choice of recreation and entertainment for every taste: lakes and mountains, ski resorts, dozens of natural parks and reserves, thermal springs, rich cultural heritage, medieval fortresses and castles of Piedmont and, finally, exquisite Piedmont cuisine and great wines give an unforgettable experience to guests from all over the world.
The capital of Piedmont – Turin is an amazingly beautiful city with more than two thousand years of history, the city of kings and the first capital of united Italy. The history of Piedmont is inextricably linked with the royal dynasty of Savoy: in 1562 they chose Turin as their new capital, moving from Chambery. The residences of Savoy, located in the historical part of Turin, remind of the brilliant past of the royal city: the Royal Palace, Palazzo Madama (Palace of Queen Maria Cristina of France), Carignano Palace, Valentino Castle, as well as the Egyptian Museum, the Royal Armory, numerous art museums, the collection of which begins from the collections of the dynasty.
The capital of Piedmont – Turin – an amazingly beautiful city
You can enumerate for a long time the unusual and unique historical details that form the basis of tourist routes, or talk about interesting traditions that are still a source of pride for the Piedmontese today. But to see and feel the mesmerizing charm of this city is tantamount to some important life acquisition. The special rhythm of the city’s life, an indispensable attribute of which are pauses of aesthetic and gastronomic pleasure during the day in numerous bars and cafes, has been created not for decades, but for centuries. Therefore, there are so many so-called historical cafes and restaurants, cultural salons, which over time have become an attraction and when visiting which you incredibly find yourself in the past centuries.
Since the end of the 19th century, these historic cafes have mixed elements of various architectural styles, antique furnishings, a variety of delicacies and dishes, painting, literature, satire and politics. Visiting these places became a daily habit and way of life of Turin people, who, with pleasure sipping bicherin (from the Italian bikchierino – “glass” – a traditional Turin drink made of coffee, chocolate and cream), cherished dreams of the well-being of their homeland. Workers also came here to take a break after a hard day at the factory.
In Turin and elsewhere in Piedmont, historic cafes hold amazing testimonies of history. The entire interior – chairs, tables, ceiling moldings – is a valuable artistic heritage. These are the places where time seems to have stood still, breathing in the air of antiquity. All the delicacies (or almost all) – from cakes and chocolates to aperitifs and sauces – are a secret, a secret, a recipe for this place. Interest in these cafes continues unabated both from an artistic point of view and from the point of view of the uniqueness of their dishes, the strength of which lies not only in the careful preservation of recipes, but also in their everyday use.
Here, as before, they will prepare for you bicherin the way Count Camillo Cavour drank it – in the same proportions of coffee, chocolate and cream. Here you will try the same bon-bon or brioches (as croissants are called here) – sweet or salty, caramels with a variety of flavors and ingredients that have received worldwide fame, cunesi with rum (from Cuneo – the name of a large city in Piedmont), nuts in chocolate cream with liqueur, dronerezi – meringue cakes combined with gianduya chocolate cream, gianduyotti – chocolate-nut sweets named after the character of the Piedmont carnival Gianduja, marron glace, praline, torrone – nut nougat, where the main ingredient, like in Piedmont nut, is. .. And also local vermouth and passito – as an indispensable element of the Piedmont five-oklock, pleasant breaks between lunch and dinner.
The old restaurant in the center of Turin “Del Cambio”, founded in 1757, is located in the very center of Turin, on the square where the heart beats stronger from the importance of the historical position, opposite the Carignano Palace, chosen as the seat of the first parliament in the history of the united Italy in 1861. This restaurant was the favorite place of Count Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, who played an important role not only in the birth of Barolo wine, but also in the unification of Italy. Casanova, Mozart, Goldoni, Balzac and many other famous historical figures dined here.
The restaurant has retained its appearance to this day almost unchanged, and the most significant design elements, such as mirrors, magnificent chandeliers and frescoes, remain original, only undergoing a delicate restoration. After a quality restoration a year ago, the restaurant opened its doors to visitors. Thanks to millions of investments, the antique component, the frescoes of 1875, mirrors, gilding, Pralian marble, and ancient magnificent chandeliers have been fully preserved. Now “Del Cambio” is once again one of the best restaurants in Turin, worthy of the attention of the most discerning audience, and as proof of this – the Michelin star, who did not take long to appear.
Wine and grapes
But, undoubtedly, Piedmont wines and cuisine are the most powerful factor, once and for all conquering the most demanding travellers. The cult of quality food and gourmet meals as an indispensable part of every day of our life in Piedmont is obvious, and visitors get the impression that they are in a gastronomic paradise.
The real wealth of Piedmont is its autochthonous grape varieties. White varieties include Arneis, Cortese, Erbaluce, Timorasso, Favorita, Nascetta. Among the reds are Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa, Grignolino, Pelaverga, Ruchè, Brachetto. As a result, Piedmont ranks first in Italy in terms of the number of wines produced, marked with a quality certificate – the so-called vino di qualità, wines of high-quality control.
16 wines at once have the highest quality mark on the bottle neck – the DOCG label: Alta Langa, Asti, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato Superiore, Barolo, Brachetto, Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore, Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore, Dolcetto di Diano d ‘ Alba, Gavi, Erbaluce di Caluso, Ghemme, Gattinara, Roero, Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato. Even more wines – 44 – have the DOC quality mark.
The Langhe zone, 60 km from Turin and its capital Alba, have gained particular fame as a gastronomic Mecca. A very important role in this is played by the autumn gift of the gods – the white truffle of Alba – and the magnificent Barolo and Barbaresco wines, known as some of the best in the world. These wines are unique in their kind because they are made from the autochthonous Nebbiolo grape, which only in this area of the planet gives such amazing results. Extraordinary aroma and powerful tannins inherent in Nebbiolo give wines with a pronounced predisposition for long aging. At a young age, even after two or three years of aging in oak barrels and a year in a bottle, which are obligatory by law, these wines are often simply not ready to drink, they really reveal themselves and show their powerful potential only after a few years.
The main five villages in the Barolo production zone are Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba ( Serralunga d’Alba).
Due to the difference in terroir and microclimate, the wines from these villages are very different. The composition of the soil varies not only from village to village, but even within the same hill. Taking into account the age of the vines, the position of the vineyard, the quality of the grapes, the winemaker decides which wine to be, therefore, the same winemaker may, for example, have a basic Barolo and a Barolo cru (from selected grapes from the same vineyard). One very famous and respected winemaker has seven Barolos in his line of wines! One of them is basic and six Barolo crus – from different villages and completely different terroirs. The most powerful and long-lasting wines are obtained from the villages of Serralunga and Monforte.
In addition to the historical names, whose wineries were founded in the second half of the 19th century, there are a lot of Barolo winemakers who have glorified Barolo in recent decades and continue to delight the world with great wines – Giacomo Conterno, Giuseppe Rinaldi, Giuseppe Mascarello, Vietti, Domenico Clerico, Roberto Voerzio , Elio Grasso, Massolino, Paolo Scavino, Aldo Conterno, Elio Altare, Paolo Conterno.
The Piedmontese, of course, are proud of these wines, but they do not drink them every day. A rich and complex wine suggests the same extraordinary dishes in a gastronomic accompaniment, a reason to share a conversation with friends or family joy. Therefore, it is rather a wine for weekends and holidays.
The grape Nebbiolo got its name from the fogs descending on the valleys of Piedmont.
The Piedmontese would not be gourmets if they only made barolo and barbaresco. Here you will find excellent spumantes, made using the classical method, following the example of champagnes, as well as excellent white and rosé wines and, of course, a rich selection of red wines, among which Barbera and Dolcetto are especially dear to the heart of the Piedmontese. There is no Piedmontese (including the Barolo growers) who does not like Barbera or Dolcetto – these two grape varieties can be said to have an imprint in the Piedmontese DNA.
Barbaresco – a wine standing on a pedestal next to Barolo – from the neighboring village of the same name, from the same Nebbiolo grapes, but with its own historical traditions. In addition to the difference in terroir, this Barbaresco is aged in oak barrels for a year less (now it is enshrined in law) and does not claim to be superior to its neighbor, but continues to delight the world with bright colors. The name Barbaresco is inextricably linked with the name of the wine house of the Gaja family, who were the first to make and sell quality wine, brought fame to Barbaresco and are still a very important figure in this territory.
Fortunately, the problem of high-quality winemaking has been solved here long ago, and there are quite a few winemakers who deserve applause. Among them are Roagna, Bruno Giacosa, Bruno Rocca, Giuseppe Cortese, Pier Busso, Moccagatta.