Monday, 14 April 2014

Top 5 Wine Regions to Visit : #2 - The Gastronomic Heaven of Piedmont

Italy has been attracting food and wine lovers for centuries but most are drawn to the famous vineyards of Tuscany or those around the cities of Verona and Venice. Surprisingly few make it to the hilly vineyards of Piedmont and that is part of its charm.

Why visit?
Tuscany may have luxury wine hotels (Banfi, Vicchiomaggio and Fonterutoli all offer top-notch accommodation) and
swanky restaurants but Piedmont has small B&B’s, agriturismo and rustic osterias. If you want to see the real Italy away from the crowds, this is the wine region for you.

The scenery is stunningly beautiful, surrounded on three sides by the Alps and with its game, truffles, cheese, pastries and chocolate, (to name but a few) Piedmont is a foodie’s heaven. But best of all is its sheer diversity of wines. From the sparkling wines of Asti and crisp whites of Gavi to juicy reds from Dolcetto and Barbera and the greats of Barolo and Barbaresco – Piedmont is home to some of the most famous wines in Italy.

When to visit
Piedmont is beautiful at any time of year but in autumn it is especially enchanting. The autumn colours are a delight to behold, plus you can experience harvest time, truffle season and choose from a wealth of food and wine festivals. Most famous of all is the international white truffle fair in Alba (every weekend from 11/10 to 16/11 in 2014). Truffle hunting itself is secretive stuff (not surprising when you consider a white truffle can literally be ‘worth its weight in gold’!) but you can go on a guided truffle hunt organised through the tourist board. Better still is to sample the truffles in one of Piedmont’s many wonderful restaurants.

Where to stay
Marcarini can trace its history back to the mid 1800s and produces some of the finest wines in Barolo. Their agriturismo is located off-the-beaten track near Alba and just like their wines offers a magical experience - once tried, never forgotten. You’ll receive the warmest of welcomes and nothing is too much to ask; they’ll happily recommend local restaurants and wineries to make sure you get the most out of your trip. A visit to the tasting room at La Morra is a must but if you can’t wait until then we still have very limited stocks of their 92pt Barolo La Serra 2007.

How to get there
You can fly direct from Stansted to Turin (Ryanair), a fascinating city less than an hour’s drive from Piedmont’s wine heartland around Alba and Asti. From there, you’ll need a car to get around and visit the region’s famous wineries and restaurants.

Wines to get you in the mood for your trip
Marcarini Barolo La Serra 2007, Bel Moro Gavi 2012, Valle Berta Barbera d’Asti 2009, Cascina Marassino Barbaresco Ovello 2010

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