The second half of our time in Piedmont was centered around wine and food. We went for tastings at several wineries, had lunch in a few small towns and enjoyed dinners in and around Alba. Since there was a lot to talk about, I’m going to break down a part for each day.
Cover your eyes, hide the kids and enjoy the upcoming food and wine experience.
Monday morning rolled around and we reunited with Luca, who was our guide. We had a good time with him on our last visit, so we were happy to see him again.
There was another person who joined us for the tastings. His name was Tyler and he was a nice guy. His job allows him to work from the road and he has basically been on the road since COVID started. He and Luca have both passed portions of the Sommelier curriculum, so we felt like wine light-weights.
We started with a visit to a winery named Deltetto 1953. We had an enjoyable tour of the facilities before sitting for our tasting. We tasted three sparkling wines from the Alta Langhe region and then three Arneis wines from the Roero region. We finished up with a Pinot Nero that was one of their newer wines.
The sparklers were all splendid and are a good alternative to Prosecco. The Arneis wines were also good, though the reserve wine missed the mark by a little bit. In fairness, I think we like a younger, fresher wine and this just had evolved after a little aging. The Pinot was decent, but doesn’t compare to the Pinot Noirs we have available to us from Oregon, California or France.
Our overall favorite was the Arneis from the San Michele Vineyard. Nice fruit, good acidity and easy to drink. We bought four bottles to drink along the way while traveling.
Overall, it was a great place to start our breakfast tasting. The wines were good and on the lighter side so we weren’t overwhelmed. And though I can not remember her name, our hostess was a lovely woman and provided an enjoyable tour and tasting.
Continuing on, it was lunch time and we went to a small place in Serralunga called È Di Vino Vineria. Serralunga is a cute town in the center of the Barolo region and the ride there was incredible. Up and down the hillside then weaving through vineyards overlooking the valley. It was such a beautiful experience, especially seeing the clusters of Nebbiolo grapes on the vines waiting to be harvested.
Lunch was delicious. Among the four of us, we had a caprese salad, ravioli, tagliatelle and lasagne, all paired with a bottle of Nebbiolo wine from Serralunga. After lunch we were offered a local treat. It was a sugar cube, that was infused with alcohol and herbs. Sue was initially wary of the treat, saying it reminded her of how the polio vaccine was distributed back in elementary school. However, polio sugar cube vaccines never had quite the same “kick” to them…..
Three of us took a chance and as of the evening, everyone seemed fine. No ill affects or new patches of chest hair.
Before heading to our afternoon tasting, we took a little walk through town and visited the Serralunga Castle. Quite stunning to see both the castle and the surrounding views.
Our afternoon wine tasting was at the Azienda Agricola Sukula. It is a husband and wife run winery and they produce some very good wines in small quantities. Riikka is the winemaker and is hands on in every aspect of the process from soil to bottle. Jyrki is the “gardener” tending to the vineyards. They are originally from Finland, where they run a top tier restaurant and Jyrki Sukula is a well-known chef. Jyrki also has a ‘Buffalo connection’: he played junior hockey with Christian Ruuttu when they were both younger. Christian Ruuttu played for the Buffalo Sabres during his professional hockey career.
As we pulled up, we could see that the workers were in the vineyards harvesting the grapes. Ripe berries were roadside in bins waiting to be picked up and taken to the pressing room. It was really cool to be in the middle of the activity. We were hoping that we weren’t in the way.
Riikka greeted us like old friends and immediately poured a glass of their Alta Langhe sparkling wine as we all chatted. You’ll notice, I did not say she poured a taste, but rather the five of us enjoyed our apertivo (I think we may have emptied the bottle).
She then led us through the tasting, even taking us into the vineyard to show us the grape clusters that were being harvested and letting us taste the grapes. She walked us through the entire process and explained their harvesting process. We ran into the harvesting group led by Jyrki and got to say hello before they returned to their duties.
Moving from the vineyard to the tasting room, she had prepared some food items to pair with the wines we were to taste. She had goat cheese, prosciutto, sausage, freshly made warm focaccia, olives, pecorino cheese and breadsticks. The wines were 2016 & 2017 Barolo, 2020 Barbera D’Alba and we started with the 2020 Alta Langhe.
The tasting was actually one of the most enjoyable ones we’ve been on. With the great wines, fabulous food, informative talk and the vineyard visit – what more could you ask for? Maybe sending home a case of wine would top off the visit – so we did.
After the Sukula visit, we headed back to Alba to relax for a while before dinner. And it was back in the apartment that I realized I’d forgotten my camera in Luca’s car. A quick text would assure that he would bring it along tomorrow.
For dinner, we went to the Osteria Dell’Arco. We met up with Valerie and had a delightful evening. Since I didn’t have my camera, you’ll have to trust me on the dinner items.
There was Tajarin with porcini mushrooms, agnolotti plin, roast Guinea fowl, roast veal, panna cotta and tiramisu, plus a bottle of Barbaresco. The key word will be delicious! We all enjoyed our meals and the company – a perfect evening.
One of the funniest parts of the evening was when Val was telling us that her son came home from school and while talking, said that he really liked the second course of lunch. Second course? Our school lunches were not multi-course affairs. Sue opined that by fifth grade, they’ll be worried about wine pairings for lunch.
We bid Arrivederci to Val and headed back to the apartment to relax after a full day. Tomorrow promises more of the same.