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Where in the Italian Wine World is Tony?

On November 13th, I head off to the Piedmont region of Italy for five days of “work”. Piedmont, or in Italian Piemonte, translates into foot of the mountains due to its proximity to the Alps. The region is located with the French and Swiss borders to the north and the Italian Riviera to the south.

Piedmont is best known for wine production most famously Barolo and Barbaresco made from the Nebbiolo grape. In addition, the region also is known for wines from the Barbera grape (Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba) as well as Asti Spumante, a sweet sparkling wine made from the Moscato grape.

On this trip, I will be staying in the city of Alba, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to 15 Michelin-starred restaurants! It is also the birthplace of Ferrer Rocher and Nutella. Oh, and by the way, the White Truffle Festival will be underway when I get there, yum. Alba is also a perfect place from which to visit the best wine production areas since it is in between the Barolo and Barbaresco production areas. And, there is no shortage of wineries to visit with over 300 wineries in the Alba region. Our distributors graciously set up a number of private tours for me focusing on Barolo producers, all of whose wines we have offered or currently offer at Vino e Vivo.

The 14th is a travel day and a day to shake off the jet lag before getting to “work” in the morning.

November 15

Morning– I will spend the morning at Cordero di Montezemolo in La Morra (#5 on the map). This winery has been in the same family for 19 generations and several years ago Alberto Cordero, the current winemaker, stopped by Vino e Vivo to record a podcast. Although he won’t be there, I will meet with his sister Elena.

Afternoon – From La Morra, I head Serralunga d’Alba (#7) and the Massolino winery. Massolino produces six Baroli (Italian plural of Barolo) including a blend of vineyards, four single vineyard wines and a single vineyard Reserva. In addition, they produce Barbarescos, Barbera d’Alba, and several other red and white wines.

November 16

Morning – I head back to La Morra for a tasting at the Ratti winery. I am a big fan of their wines and have served their Barbera d’Asti, Langhe Nebbiolo and Barolo. Renato Ratti, the father of the current generation of owners, was the first to bottle single vineyard (“cru”) Barolos and his son, Pietro currently runs the winery. Ratti makes a few other wines that I hope to taste, including their aged Grappa.

Afternoon – I don’t have to travel far from the hotel this afternoon, since the Pio Cesare winery is one of the few cellars left in the historic center of the city of Alba. Built at the end of the 18th century, it is crossed by the ancient Roman walls surrounding Alba Pompeia, which act as its foundations. There I will have a private tour and tasting of their wines. You may recall that we tasted several of the Pio Cesare wines when we had the tasting of wines imported by MMD, including their singe vineyard Ornato.

November 17

Morning – Only about a ten-minute drive this morning to attend a tasting at Ceretto. Bruno and Marcello Ceretto began acquiring land in the 1960s to ensure high quality in their wines. Their children operate the winery now and their wines are highly regarded. And, they also run a three Michelin star restaurant, Piazza Duomo in Alba. Like other producers, they make a variety of wines including six single vineyard Barolos.

Afternoon – I have no winery visits scheduled but hope to explore the city and its markets. If I haven’t spent too much on wine I might even pick up a white truffle (if I can find a very small one!).

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