Adventure is everywhere in the rural agricultural area of Piemonte. These are five of our suggestions for enjoying it to the fullest, whether you're a first-time visitor or you already know and love this region.
1. See Piemonte -- from La Morra.
The township of La Morra boasts the highest Barolo vineyards, which makes it a prime tourist stop. Situated in the Barolo zone, you can see nearly all of the area's villages from the main viewing point (next to Ristorante Belvedere). Plus, this town is the perfect starting point for a wine traveler: La Morra boasts the highest number of producers out of all Barolo-producing regions. If you are really ambitious, hike from Barolo to La Morra. That gets your heart rate up!
Read more about La Morra with our Focus article!
2. Explore the local wineries.
Explore the region, from Barolo to Barbaresco to the Roero. Discover the local grapes of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Arneis.
Giovanni Rosso: Schedule an appointment with Evan Byrne at Giovanni Rossi for a wine tasting you won't forget. Go 4-wheeling in the vineyards, see three different vineyard locations (get the dish on soil, location, vines, etc.), then learn and taste in the barrel room. Wines: Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Barolo.
E. Pira e Figli: A tasting with the lively Chiara Boschis is more than an experience. It’s a privilege. She runs a small winery that has earned a cult-like following. Once you taste her wines you’ll know why. Even better? She’s located in the village of Barolo. Wines: Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Barolo.
Ca’ Del Baio: A family-owned and operated winery, Ca’ Del Baio sits on the valley floor, flanked by vineyards. Visitors are always enchanted by a tour with one of the three daughters while the rest of the family is hard at work in the winery. They introduced one of the Langhe’s few Rieslings in recent years -- you'll want to take more than just a sip! Wines: Chardonnay, Riesling, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Moscato d’Asti.
Cascina Bruciata: Take a tour of the barrel room, drink in views of the Barbaresco vineyards and of course taste the wines. The family-owned winery dates back to 1880 when owner Carlo Balbo’s great-grandfather acquired the farm after a jealous neighbor set fire to it, and thus the name was born. "Cascina bruciata" means "burned farmhouse." Wines: Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco -- and if you're really lucky, they'll uncork a Barbaresco Riserva.
Demarie: Paolo and Monica recently opened a new cantina. It’s gorgeous, green, and houses some fantastic wines. This winery stop offers an opportunity to taste wines from all over the region. Wines: Extra Brut Spumante (Metodo Classico), Arneis, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Roero Riserva, Barbaresco, Barolo, Moscato d’Asti, Birbet.
Deltetto: If you like bubbles, make sure Deltetto is on the list. With outstanding whites and three different spumante wines, Deltetto offers more than the traditional reds of the region. Wines: Sparkling Brut (Metodo Classico), Spumante Extra Brut vintage (Metodo Classico), Sparkling Rose (Metodo Classico), Gavi, Favorita, Arneis, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Roero Riserva, Barbaresco, Barolo, Moscato d’Asti, Birbet.
3. Experience Alba White Truffles / Tartufo Bianco.
Hunt them, smell them, eat them. Piemonte is the land of truffles. During October and November, the area comes alive as truffle hunters seek the prized truffle catch. Hunts are a popular adventure. If you can make it during truffle season, have some shaved atop the local pasta (tajarin), over fried eggs, risotto -- just about anything!
The Alba International White Truffle Fair / Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba takes place Saturdays and Sunday from mid-October to mid-November. Tartufo lovers from all over the world descend upon the city for their earthly purchases. The fair features wine tastings and pairings, cooking classes, truffle smell workshops, and much more. The 2014 International White Truffle Fair is scheduled for Oct. 11 to Nov. 16. www.fieradeltartufo.org
The Alba Truffle Fair is the biggest and most popular truffle event, but it certainly isn't the only one. Throughout the fall and into the winter, truffle fairs perfume the air all over Piemonte. From Alessandria to Cuneo, Asti to Alba, stay tuned for our updated Guide to the Truffle Fairs when autumn rolls around.
4. Drink Champagne at Centro Storico.
Here's something cool: Order a bottle of bubbles at Vinoteca Centro Storico in Serralunga d'Alba in the Barolo zone, and have owner Alessio saber it. He does it with the bottom of a wine glass. Once your glass is full he'll bring a plate of freshly sliced prosciutto. Cin cin!
5. Bike Piemonte.
Rent a bike. Climb some hills. It's hard, but the views are worth it. See our itineraries by bike in the Langhe and Roero zones:
Or head to the Tourist Office for routes suited for every level.
· Bike rentals:
Easy Go Bike Shop, Via S. Margherita 2, Alba (CN)
Albaway Corso Piera Cillario 8, Alba (CN).
· Tourist Office:
Piazza Risorgimento, 2 Alba (CN).
Enjoy, relax, and drink in Piemonte. Salute!
Valerie Quintanilla is an American travel and wine writer who lives in the Langhe. Follow her expat chronicles on her blog, www.GirlsGottaDrink.com, Twitter, and Instagram. While marketing is her official trade, she also organizes travel and wine tours around the Langhe.