You will taste a selection of wines from the different villages and Crus of the Langhe. We also sample wine from Piedmont’s lesser-known grapes: Dolcetto d’Alba (bitter-sweet fruit, earthy and quaffable) and also Barbera d’Alba (dark, fresh, lively and elegant though often more serious barrique aged as well). The whites are also enjoyable – Moscato d’Asti is frothy, aromatic and fun, whilst Roero Arneis packs a big aroma over an elegant wine. Over a series of lunches and dinners as guests of the wine estates, you will taste the whole panoply of these wines.
The real mix of old and new makes this region interesting by its contrasts. Doumos and ancient churches as well as scenic villages offer something of interest to most visitors.
Piedmontese cuisine is widely regarded as the best in Italy, combining the influences of the Royal House of Savoy with outstanding local produce. The region’s cheeses are excellent and include Bra, Toma and Castelmagno. Another speciality is hazelnuts, and here they are often mixed with chocolate, for truly irresistible Gianduja.
On this very special tour, you will discover tannic, complex Barolos and Barbarescos, made from the great Nebbiolo grape, which age superbly. These more widely known varieties are accompanied by aromatic whites, including Moscato d’Asti and Roero Arneis, as well as the more commonly accessible Gavi.
Our trip starts with a flight to Turin and upon arrival we transfer to the area of La Morra. Our hotel, Palas Cerequio, is in this area and this old Piedmontese property situated in stunning countryside has been converted into a beautiful hotel of only nine rooms. La Morra is a quaint town that enjoys fantastic views thanks to its ideal position at the top of a hill. Our first evening is spent at the nearby winery of Michele Chiarlo, where we will enjoy our first group dinner accompanied by a selection of perfectly paired wines.
This morning, we visit the G. D. Vajra Estate for a tour and tasting, where owner Aldo Vajra prides himself on his traditional approach to wine-making. He explains his approach, saying that “traditional wines are more elegant, with more delicate perfumes, leaner, somewhat difficult, but offering more pleasure at the table”. We continue to the village of Monforte d’Alba to enjoy lunch at the highly respected Giardino de Felicin, where our Piedmontese menu will be paired with a selection of Langhe wines. Following lunch, we visit another of the area’s respected wineries for a tour and tasting before a group dinner this evening which will take place.
Today we begin at the iconic estate of Gaja. For many oenophiles, this name truly is the epitome of incredible Italian wine. Back in the 1960s, Angelo Gaja began revolutionising the extremely traditional region of Piedmont by turning accepted viticultural and vilification methods inside out – causing something of a local revolution. Today, his renowned Barbaresco Crus reach legendary and often stratospheric prices. From here, we continue on to the noble estate of Tenute Cisa dei Marchesi di Gresy, situated just outside of Barbaresco within the Langhe and Monferrato zones. It’s the only estate in the DOCG to have sole ownership of one of the top single Crus of Barbaresco, the Martinenga vineyard. We taste wines over lunch at the estate, including their two award-winning Barbaresco wines from 100% Nebbiolo – the Martinenga and Camp Gros. We continue to the cellars of Prunotto near Alba. The company was founded in 1904, but it was in 1956 that Beppe Colla took over and created the basis for quality that remains today. 1989 saw the acquisition by the noble Tuscan family of Antinori and their dedication to the vineyards have resulted in some excellent wines from both the Barolo and the Barbaresco classifications. We have dinner at Poderi Gianni Gagliardo.
Today we enjoy another tasting at a winery that produces excellent further examples of Barbarescos, with the opportunity for some free time in Barolo. After an included lunch we have some free time to explore Alba. Afterwards, we enjoy some free time to explore Alba. In this attractive town, we have a chance to stock up at some of its great delicatessens. Regional delicacies include delicate soft tomini (cheese), which is marinated in olive oil with white truffle, and the addictive cunesi (a dark chocolate rum truffle). We have our final evening meal at Ratti.
After breakfast, we have some free time to enjoy and explore the city of Turin before returning to the airport to catch our flight back home to London.
Tom has written about the drinks industry, specifically wine and whisky, for more than 20 years. Beginning with the world of wine after spending four years in Italy, he then moved back to Scotland in 1998 and his focus shifted to also include whisky. He has written prolifically for a number of publications, including The Sunday Telegraph, Decanter, Harpers and Whisky Magazine. He has written and co-authored three books on whisky, and currently writes a weekly column for the Herald. He was also recently shortlisted for International Short Copy Columnist of the Year at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards.