WINE TASTING IN BAROLO

TRAVEL TIPS FOR UNIQUE EXPERIENCES

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The Italian Dolce vita is about enjoying the small things. Good food is about good ingredients and putting passion into cooking, enjoying good wine, appreciating the beauty in small things, and slowing down. 

Here are my tips and recommendations on visiting Barolo in Piemonte, world-famous for its wine and culinary excellence.

ABOUT THE AREA

The Langhe area has a long history of winegrowing and many of the wines made here use traditional, well established grape varieties such as Arneis and Favorita (Vermentino) for whites, and Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Freisa for reds. The DOC covers a much wider area than most others; within its boundaries can be found some of the most famous DOCG wines in Italy, including the great Nebbiolo centers of Barolo and Barbaresco, plus Asti and Dogliani.

WHEN TO VISIT 

The best months to visit are from September to November as it is the truffle season, especially white truffle, as black truffle is better in February.

We came in August; it’s hot but not too hot; but I do recommend finding a place to stay with a pool!

However, if you are visiting in winter many places have spas, which is excellent as well. 


WHERE TO STAY

If you appreciate simplicity, I would recommend you stay at an Agriturismo over a hotel.

An agriturismo (loosely translate to Italian “farm-stays”) has been Italy’s best-kept accommodation secret. They are independently-owned farms that the owners have decided to use partially for accommodation. They are usually run by local families who grow their own wines and olive oil plus other crops, and usually, the food there is also more authentic than going to a hotel.

Most places in this region are family-run businesses. Some may be closed depending on their plans, so make sure you call and make reservations beforehand.

We rented a small house in Rostagni in Novello, which has two apartments and a pool plus very centrally located.

La Toricella in Robino is a lovely place in which we discovered by chance. We were driving by, and the terrace looked so romantic that we stopped and had an Aperitivo there. We saw that they also had rooms and a very nice pool and spa, so check this out.

If you are renting a place on Airbnb, you can enjoy going to the supermarket (it’s an experience on its own) to learn about local delicacies and bring some goodies back to prepare at your place while you are there.

MOVING AROUND

You definitely need a car here as there are no other means of transportation. It’s a place you go from town to town, discovering picturesque villages and breath-taking views.

This area is famous for trekking paths, walking around the vineyards and mountains. There are also lots of cyclists biking around going from vineyard to vineyard. (it’s quite hilly, so you need to be trained) you can rent bikes in Itaway Langhe else; if you are not very sporty, you can also rent a Vespa Piaggio and have a lot of fun going vineyard hoping!

MARCE’S TIP: The gastronomy here is very famous, one of the best in Italy; therefore, you really need to make dinner reservations to make sure you get a table. Dinner starts around 7:30 pm.

THINGS TO DO

One of the most popular things to do is go Truffle hunting with a Trifulau (truffle hunter) and his specialized dog to find your truffles. In La Morra, you can go with Marco Varaldo.

I want to go up in a hot air balloon above the vineyards, but unfortunately, we could not do so. It is a life-experience totally worth it.

Wine tasting – Usually, they will give you 3-4 different wines to try, and prices range between 10-15 euros per tasting. In some places, they will also give you some bread or light aperitif.

MARCE’S TIP: Tasting etiquette– Most wineries in other countries do “free testing” because they usually expect you to buy something from them. In this region, you need to pay for the tasting around 10-15 euros to be fair for the wine producers, and it’s also a good value for you. However, if you get a personalized tasting, and they open 6-8 bottles just for you to taste, then you should buy at least six bottles; it’s only fair.

Six bottles is one box, and you can save it and bring it back home, either age it and wait seven years until you drink them or buy younger wines that can be opened anytime you want to enjoy a nice drink at home.

We love going from winery to winery finding “the perfect wine” (I remind you we all have different taste buds, so ‘The perfect wine’ is the one you like the most! It doesn’t matter what any sommelier has to say).

My goal for this trip was to find the wine that was the closest taste to a Barolo but with a more affordable price tag. At the end of the trip, we had many bottles in our car’s trunk to bring back home; I think we have enough wine for the next six months to come. If you think about it, you will buy wine anyway. Sometimes the ones you buy at the supermarket are a disappointing surprise; so why not pre-buy the ones you have already tasted and you know that you like!

TOWNS TO VISIT

Barolo

Visit the WIMU (Museum of wine) in Barolo, a splendid little museum that will tell you how wine was involved in our everyday life; it’s interactive and funny and great for kids and families.

Barolo is a small town, but it’s full of wineries; basically, every block has a winery open for wine tastings. You can literally go wine-hoping, tasting different wines (don’t forget to write down your favorites).

Right in the center, there is Borgogno winery. Ask to go up to the terrace; they have the most stunning views of Barolo. Personally, I was not too fond of their wines, but they have a good deal of 3 wines for 10 euros.   

Enoteca Regionale- A great place if you don’t have a lot of time.

Alba

Park as close as possible to Piazza Michele Ferrero, to go for a walk at Via Vittorio Emanuele (also known as Via Maestra) and the surrounding streets to discover small cafes, gelaterias, cute shops, and well-stocked wine shops and all of the Gastronomic shops selling local delicacies like truffles.

Alba is also the town of the headquarters of Ferrero, the chocolate factory. The entire town smells like Nutella!


Truffle fair in Alba

La Morra

Go to Belvedere, one of the most excellent points of the Langhe for scenery. On the way up, stop at the Gallo Wine Gallery and do a wine tasting at Cantina Comunale.

If you are there for lunch, you can go to La Fontanazza. We had one of the best dinners in La Morra at Mora e Macine restaurant; locals highly recommended it as it was delicious with local specialties and fair value. We had THE best vitello tonnato and tiramisu ever!

Monforte

Monforte is one of the loveliest villages in the area. Walk around and take photos at it is very characteristic. For a glass of wine, go to Moda, and if it’s open, don’t miss Le Case della Saracca!

The Osteria I rebbi is an informal place but really cozy and good Piemontese cuisine.

Novello

We rented a house near this town, so this was our point of reference for everything. It is a lovely small town that has a castle which is now a hotel.

I recommend you to have an aperitif at “Vineria Nas- Cetta” it has a lovely terrace, which made me feel like I was inside an old Italian movie. When you order drinks, they bring you also a table with local salami and cheese.

Castiglione Falleto

For my birthday, Alex took me to this town, and we had dinner at Le Torri, honestly one of the best experiences in my life. The food was excellent! It is family-run, and they put a lot of passion into their food. We asked to be seated outside on the terrace with the views of the vineyards. They often change the menu, but if you see this on the menu, you are definitely in for a treat – The raw sausage, meat ravioli, Battuta di fassona, the orange duck, and the fried egg (something very special!)

Bra

Osteria Boccondivino is the birthplace of Slow food.

Near Bra, you can visit Pollenzo, a village where you find the Agenzia de Pollenzo, the flagship of “Slow food.” Take a tour into the Banca del Vino and walk in the small square protected by UNESCO. 

When we were there, Ferrari was launching their new model and doing the media pilot drive tests there, with a stunning cocktail setting.

When we were there, Ferrari was launching their new model and doing the media pilot drive tests there, with a stunning cocktail setting.

If you like cheese, don’t miss this experience and schedule a cheese tasting at Giolito and try the gelato at Converso, (especially the cream and chocolate one! Will leave you without words).


Cherasco

Cherasco is a super small town, but we drove there because they sell “Acqua di Cherasco” which is the best home fragrance; their home perfume lasts really long and makes your homes smell like a dream. They had it in our hotel room, and we fell in love with it! We found out they sell it here and went to the perfume store that makes it directly there.  

Cherasco is also famous for an old Chocolate shop called Barbero, which has been open since 1881! When you go inside, you feel like you go back in time; it is very elegant and makes you dream! Make sure you try the “Baci de Cherasco” (Kisses from Cherasco); they are famous world-known chocolate cookies with nociolla.

It’s also a famous place for snails (or Lumache in Italian); they are a true institution around here.

P.S. The restaurants are mainly open for dinner. Da Francesco (Palas Cerequio) is an elegant place to go for dinner; the meal is about 50 euros per person; if you want something more casual, then Pane e Vino and La Torre for a more informal meal.

Other towns to visit but we didn’t have time include Mondovi, visit the Sanctuary of Vicoforte, the town of Asti, the city of Cuneo, Monforte and Serralunga.

WINERIES

Marrone- is a super nice winery, very modern and quite big; make sure you go to the terrace upstairs for a treat! They have affordable wines, so a great place to stock your cave at home!

Ceretto winery- I discovered this one about five years ago when it was brand new, and is a place I recommend everyone to go!


Ceretto winery

Cordero di Montezemolo – I loved their Barolo monfaletto 2015

Flavio Roddolo – I loved their Nebbiolo d’Alba 2011

La Vedetta winery- Is run by our new friends Swanti and Marco; it is a small winery run by a young couple; Marco is a local, and Swanti is german; they are lovely will make you feel at home. Make sure you come from our behalf, and they will treat you like family!

There are, of course, many wineries, so if there are any picturesque ones you like on the way that say “wine tasting”, stop and visit; it’s always a great surprise!

Restaurants

On top of all the restaurants recommended above, here is a list of top ones that we tried and/or recommended by locals.

Osteria da Gemma – It is run by Nonna Gemma (Grandma Gemma) and her other grandma friends. People worldwide (including Depardieu) come here every year to eat because it is a real experience. There is no menu; they just serve you what they cooked that day, and you get a total of 10 dishes! Antipasti, primi, secondi, and dessert, all at a fixed price of only 29euros! All the town grandmas get together in the afternoon to hand roll and prepare the different kinds of pasta. There are four grandmas in the kitchen preparing everything with so much love. Make sure you don’t have a big lunch, as it is a lot of food! Get ready to enjoy the best Italian food cooked by Nonna Gemma!

Osteria da Gemma



Massimo Camia –
Is between La Morra and Barolo; it has 1 Michelin star but don’t let that scare you as the prices are fair at around 18-22 euros per dish.

La Viaud el Tornavento – Also has 1 Michelin star and has one of Italy’s best wine cellars.

Osteria Delle Aie – For a fixed price, you eat and drink as much as you like. They always open Magnum bottles and they go around from table to table (is a lot of fun!). Each course is accompanied by a magnum of a ridiculously beautiful wine pairing. Don’t come here if you are in a rush, as its definitely a slow food experience.

Other highly recommended restaurants:

· Ca Brusa, Novello

· Moda, Monforte

· Bovio,La morra

· D ano d alba

· Nelle Vigne

· Da Batista

Checklist FOR FOODIES

If you are a food lover like us, here is a list of the “MUST TRY” local delicacies. Order these if you see them on a restaurant menu or else stop by a local supermarket to get your foody-souvenirs.

Tha Battuta di Fassano – Raw meat from a local bull that only exists in this region (like steak tartare in France, but with a different taste).

Nocciola (Hazelnuts) this place is famous for them, they are everywhere surrounding the vineyards, and many local recipes have hazelnuts in them.

La Salsiccia di Bra- Raw veal sausage

Tajarin- Fresh pasta made with eggs, usually eaten like a Bolognese.

La Fassona- Typical bull breed grown in Piemonte very tender meat, usually eaten raw but exists also as a steak. 

I baci di Cherasco chocolates, and cunesi rhum chocolate.

Il Barolo Chinato- This is a drink of Barolo wine combined with Chinese herbs. It’s a small,  very delicious and refreshing aperitivo.

Cheese (or Formaggi in Italian) there are more than 40 DOP in Piemonte to try.

White truffle from Alba- From October to January.

Black truffle- From February to September.

Gianduiotti- Chocolate made out of hazelnut (my favorite!)

Grappa- In Piemonte, they have many grappas as wines; we tried the grappa with honey, and it was super good!

Bicerin- A special type of hot chocolate with whipped cream.

SHARE THE LOVE

So that being said, I wish you a lovely visit in the Barolo region, “bonne appetitto” (enjoy nice food), and cheers with good wine!

If you enjoyed some of these tips, please be sure to let me know; I love receiving your messages and feedback!

Tag me also in your photos @onboardwithMarcela

#ladolcevita

#onboardwithMarcela 

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