Thursday, January 26, 2012

Langhe Report: Nebbiolo "Full Immersion" Day 1

I had no longer said goodbye to my Austin amigo, Devon, sending him on his way to the Real Madrid –Barcelona game in Barcelona, than I set upon to make my way to Marseille, so I could catch a very early plane to Milan to gather up another Austinite friend, John Roenigk. Before that though I had to endure a night in a smoky room and some Colombard-Chardonnay to go with my (most-likely) Atlantic farm raised Salmon. But after 36 hours of being the walking dead, and working through it, it was not too bad. Other than I had to leave behind the pure and wonderful wines and friends I made in Montpellier. But that is the life and… Italy calls.

So a 4:30 AM alarm to catch a shuttle and a plane to get to a noon appointment in Serralunga. No more Grenache or Carignan. No more Viognier or Grenache Blanc. On to Nebbiolo and company.

All went well as I found my traveling companion earlier than expected. A sturdy little Lancia and before long we were in the Langhe.

Side note: I love France. I really do. I get along well with the people, hell they talk to me even though they know I do not speak. But they talk to me. And I do my Buster Keaton and we do just fine. But when I land in Italy, it is really like I at home, Or I should say, my Euro-home. Nothing to hold me back, even though I am barely conversant. I have enough simpatico to make whatever I need happen. Yeah, yeah, I’m not fluent or idiomatic. But hey, Italy, I am here. And that is, at my stage, really good enough. Better than most.

We had two appointments and a dinner. First stop I think saw us tasting 11 wines. Batasiolo. A good entry point for John’s full immersion into the Langhe according to Alfonso. Our guide, Angelo, took us through the wines he wanted us to taste, not the wines that were currently for sale or the most popular wines. A trained sommelier and one with a really engaging personality and easy going style. The last flight of wines we tasted, three 2005 single vineyard Barolos form Monforte (Bofani), La Morra (Cerequio) and Serralunga (Boscareto) along with a 2006 also from Serralunga (La Corda della Briccolina) set the stage for our first day in Nebbiolo country.

A short drive followed to Castiglione Falletto and the Boroli estate La Brunella for a tasting. There also we tasted a normale 2006, and two 2005’s, a Cerequio and a Villero. But wait there’s more.

John didn’t sleep on the plane, so I dropped him back at the hotel. Later we joined the owner of Batasiolo, Fiorenzo Dogliani and his group, including the ever energetic Ricardo March, Fiorenzo’s colleague from Miami. Stefano Poggi (“grasshopper”) was just back from his extended Italian honeymoon, so Ricardo stepped up to the plate and was a huge asset.

Dinner was a knockout. I am just getting back to life and eating and drinking (and enjoying) wine. The Sommelier at Il Boscareto’s Michelin One Star, La Rei, walked us through what was, hands down, the best meal I have had in many months and one of the best wine and dining experiences I have ever had in Italy. I do not know how I fall into these things, along with a vertical “blind” tasting of single vineyard Baroli going back to 1996.

Ok, yeah, yeah I am bragging now. But I need to mention this is after the end of a 19 hour travel and work day. So, if you think I’m taking the easy road, think what you want. As for us, we're just back on the wine trail in Italy.

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