Up and ready to go early today; we met our guide Luca and headed out for some wine tasting and winery visits. It was a full day of “Grape” fun, plus an awesome dinner to finish it off.
We met Luca at the Piazza Michele Ferraro to start the day. Luca will be with us to guide, inform, transport and translate as we make our way through the Piemonte wine region. Today we will start by going to Monferrato and the Roero area.
There is some old saying about drinking in the morning, but since no one among our group could remember it, we decided to just ignore it and enjoy our wine. So off to the first stop…
Our first visit was at the Braida Winery. At Braida, we were taken on a short tour of the winery to learn about their history and production methods. The tour was led by Carolina, who did a nice job of promoting the winery.
After the tour, we were led to a very nice tasting room where we tasted five different wines. All of them were excellent and it would be hard to pick an overall favorite.
We wrapped up our visit with the purchase of three bottles of wine to drink back at the apartment. This would become a repetitive phrase.
After that perfect breakfast tasting, we were off to Monferrato for a picnic lunch and tasting at the winery of Gianni Doglia. The winery is located high up in the hills of Monferrato. The ride over provided some beautiful views in every direction. Since this is also harvest time, the fresh air also contained the sweet bouquet of grapes.
Gianni Doglia, besides being the name of the winery, is also the name of the winemaker. For our visit, we would be interacting with his sister – Paola, and she was a delight. Friendly, bubbly and knowing all about the family winery. So much fun to visit.
Our tasting was held along with our picnic lunch. Since the vineyard was a little wet in spots, we had our picnic under the pergola. Such a sacrifice!
We first heard a little bit about the winery and the wines that they produce, while looking over the spectacular views of the vineyards below. Being in Monferrato, their primary wines are Moscato, Grignolino and Barbera. Interestingly, they have also planted a small plot of Riesling in one of their vineyards.
Afterwards, we settled in for lunch and some wine. We had a wonderful picnic-style lunch with bread, cheese, sausage, agnolotti, melanzane and hazelnuts. We also tasted the winery’s Moscato D’Asti, Grignolino, Ruche’ Di Castagnole Monferrato, Barbera D’Asti and Nebbiolo. All were very good, with the Barbera D’Asti – Bosco Donne being my favorite. While we were eating and tasting, Gianni arrived and gave a wave as he hurried into the winery.
After we finished up our picnic, we had a few minutes to enjoy the views, buy a couple bottles of wine for back at the apartment and we were able to sneak a quick peek as they were bringing in grapes to be crushed.
After we finished up at the winery, we piled back into the car to head to our final wine destination of the day, the Demarie Winery. While some might be thinking three winery visits in one day is insanity, I say “Nay”!
Luckily, the tasting pours are just that – a taste, probably just an ounce. All of the wines have been so good, and we have a driver guide, so Carpe Diem!
We arrived at the winery after a beautiful ride through the hills of the Roero. The weather is gorgeous and the landscapes are like something you only dream about. This is the essence of La Dolce Vita.
Demarie is another family owned winery located in the Roero. They make some very good wines, especially their red wines and do so in an environmentally friendly manner. While they are not organic, they are close. They are also very conscious of their footprint and use solar energy to generate electricity, and they recycle their water.
So once again, we bought three bottles to drink back at the apartment before heading back to Alba for the evening.
It was truly a great day of touring and wine tasting. The wineries that we went to were all high quality, small producers that really care about the wines they produce. Additionally, the people we met were fantastic. All went out of their way to make us feel welcome and we were most appreciative of their efforts to tell us their story in English.
We are very happy to have Luca with us. Besides being very personable, he has also studied to be a Sommelier and really adds so much to our tastings. He also provides much background about the wine regions and vineyards. And he plays good music!
Luca dropped us off back in Alba and we are very much looking forward to tomorrow’s tours.
We only had a short turn around time before dinner this evening. Unfortunately, Jan was a bit under the weather and decided to skip dinner and rest up for tomorrow. Like the last battalion of brave soldiers, David, Sue and I were steadfast in our desire for good food.
Our dinner tonight was at Ristorante Il Centro in Priocca. It came highly recommended by Valerie, as well as being one of my top picks. We just hoped it would live up to its reputation.
We had a bit of a shaky start. There was some confusion over where our driver would pick us up, which caused us to be about twenty minutes late. When we arrived, we were very apologetic, but they reassured us that it was not a problem and welcomed us warmly.
As for the restaurant itself, it would probably be called upscale casual. There were people in suits and dresses and there were also people there in T-shirts and sneakers. Luckily, we were somewhere in between.
The food would probably be called upscale fantastic! Everything was homemade, exceptionally delicious and served by an extremely conscientious waitstaff. Other than that, it was ok…
They started by bringing us what we thought was an amuse-bouche, but really was a small appetizer platter and all Items were amazingly tasty. They also brought us warm, homemade breads that were awesome.
I don’t want to run out of superlatives because we haven’t even received our first course. For our primi, David chose the risotto, which was creamy and cheesy; Sue and I both had the Tajarin with white truffles. I don’t remember the Italian word, so I’ll go with Molto yummy!
For our secondi or main course, we all had the veal cheek with a fig reduction. It was served over a small bed of mashed potatoes and was so tender it fell apart just seeing your fork come near. All three of us were savoring each bite.
Unfortunately, our driver was returning, so we had to skip out on dessert. However, while they were preparing the check, they brought us out a dessert sampler – a taste of four different dessert selections. Needless to say, we were impressed.
We paid the bill and the Maitre’D, who is also the owner’s son, walked us out to the door, thanking us for coming. Our ride was waiting so we hopped in and headed back to town.
I think the driver thought we were angry for the earlier mistake, but we tried to reassure him that it was not his fault, just a little confusion. He seemed glad that we shook his hand and acknowledged the issue. We’ll see if he is our driver again on Saturday when we once again go out of town for dinner.
For our first day of touring, we were all happy and content as we headed home to rest for tomorrow.