There is a level of comfort to be navigating with a GPS while driving through misty fog in the nebbiolo wine country of Piedmont Italy, known as the Langhe region. Ever present are switch-back roads. We are surrounded by fog with no chance for a view of the alps. Its autumn, and harvest time is near completion, while the mist slows the final ripening of the grapes.
The area is a patchwork of vineyards, with castles and feudal towers, rolling hills with perfectly planted vines. And landscapes are blanketed in orange and yellow leaves that are breathtaking.
Nebbia means fog in Italian…
So its obvious fog should be the root word of this grape variety. In fact, in Latin, nebbiolo is nebula. Take your pick. This grape is regulated and there are only a few areas where the nebbiolo grape can be cultivated to meet the standards to produce Barolo wine.
taking a photo won’t be a problem since there is no perfect angle, or time of day — there is no sun!
Our destination is the village of Barolo, Piedmont region – part of the UNESCO protected region.
We are here to taste Barbaresco and Barolo wine. These two wines are 100% nebbiolo. I thought Barolo was my favorite, but after several wine tastings, Barbaresco (earthy – more nutrients in the soil) won me over. It’s easier to drink at a younger age, and more affordable. I’m happy with the queen of wines.
The town is a tourist destination as identified by tour buses; no children in sight, others have purchased wine in hand. The town is spotless, small, and easily walked in less than an hour. The village has numerous tasting shops intermingled with lovely restaurants and souvenir shops. Sadly, we were too early for lunch.
We started by going to the wine museum which is located in a 1,000-year-old castle – Falletti Castle. A bit quirky; mixture of art, with rituals of drinking wine from all aspects of early life. An interactive exhibit, yet it was too much input that my brain could not sort out, and all I wanted to do was to get to the basement —the wine cellar —Enoteca Regionale Del Barolo!
This was high-tech as the system functions by exchanging your driver’s license for an electronic card. The bottles line the wall in various categories: 2€ – 5€ or more, depending on your taste and pocket-book. Here are the eleven wines from the local towns from the DOCG (strict regulations) zones of the highest quality. When you return the card with payment, you get your license back.
The clerk serves as an advisor and explains the different varieties and vintages, and he relieves you of the normal pressure you experience at a wine shop. Now, we were fortified for visits to numerous tasting rooms in the village. Notice the price of the bottles for Barolo wine below.
One wine shop had a corkscrew museum, Museo Dei Cavatappi, where other tastings can be enjoyed. Visit this shop and see for yourself…500 corkscrews dating from the 1700’s. I have always been intrigued by the term, “wine key” (specific corkscrew) and how appropriate it is for unlocking the liquid treasure found in a bottle of wine.
It’s the best way to open a bottle of wine; I can confirm this as a former sommelier many moons ago.
Scattered wineries are spotted from the car with modern architecture like this one!
The village of Barolo is truly a must for wine lovers, visit this area and escape the crowds of Tuscany! November is a great time here as the red wines match the gastronomy change: hearty stews, truffle pasta, and hot soup!
In addition to this delightful town, Bra and Alba are very close by to explore… with more great wine and fabulous food. I’ll have more on those two cities very soon.
And now…I have to search for the documentary “Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution.” This is the story of how Barolo wine became the best wine in the world.
TIP: As a final point…rent a car and have a designated driver – speed limit is enforced. Don’t forget to say, “Buon giorno” for good morning, and “arrivederci” which is a proper way to say goodbye.