Working backwards- Part 1

31 January 2014
Don't rush!

Don’t rush!

A month into 2014 and I’m already struggling with New Year’s resolutions. I promised myself that I would blog more often but with lots of visitors and consequent adventures I’ve kept putting it off. So I’m going to start with this week and work backwards. I recently got back in touch with Andrew (and wife Roz) a business friend of 30 odd years whose daughter and husband have a ski chalet business in Bardonecchia (Sempreski) where they spend around 6 months of the year. It’s only a couple of hours drive from Neive and like most of our friends once they discover our local wines they can’t stay away.  They will be welcome regular visitors as apart from loving the wine they also play  golf  and bridge.  They were here last week and in between rubbers we managed a couple of tastings.


Recent tastings

28 October 2013

Paolo Stella


Federica Grasso, Ca del Baio

Ermando, Vigne dei Mastri

Ermando, Vigne dei Mastri



Fratelli Alessandria







Despite all my heroic efforts to reduce the volume of wine in my cantina, admirably assisted by family and friends, I am failing miserably. This is entirely due to the excellent quality/value of the hundreds of producers on my doorstep. I seldom go for a tasting with the intention of buying but somehow a few bottles always seem to find their way into the back of the car. The most recent examples are Stella, Vigne dei Mastri, Ca del Baio, and Fratelli Alessandria


Springing into Summer

10 August 2013

The Baldwin Clan


Start of the Bob run


Tube run- Artesina

It’s been a memorable  if ridiculously busy summer made special by having the whole family here last month; the 5 kids, partners, 6 grandchildren and even the ex-wife. A lot of wine tasted and drunk with lots of laughter. The weather has been great with the pool at close to 30c after a cool and generally miserable Spring. If you are here in the summer take the kids to Artesina where they have a great railed bob run of over 1km down the mountain and a shorter tube run for little ones. It was a highlight of the family gathering. Live music also featured with Jamiroquai in Barolo and the Buena Vista Social Club at Monforte d’Alba: great atmosphere and so much cheaper than the UK (around €40!)

May as usual provided the opportunity to taste the new (2010) Barbaresco vintage which was almost universally good and prompted some new and return visits to several cantinas. (more…)

…and now for something completely different La Trava, Mango

14 May 2013
La Trava

Where exactly are we? asks Clemens.

Despite its proximity, I had never visited a vineyard outside “the Zone” in Mango until a week or so ago when I drove 5km and a few hundred metres higher  from our house in the valley next to Neive.  La Trava is in an historic location made famous by the writings of  Beppe Fenoglio about the partisans whose neighbourhood this was in World War II. The views are sensational looking back down the valley towards Neive and perfect for those of you with camper vans; space for 5. I was to discover that those few hundred metres and different soil makes a significant difference to the wine produced there. It has only existed in its current form for less than 20 years but  it has come a long way with the evident passion  of  Maria Grazia Rivetti, her husband Giorgio Costa and daughter Manuella. (There is another daughter, Elena, who we we didn’t meet). They make 50-60k bottles a year + “sfuso”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (more…)

Deltetto and the search for Favorita

1 December 2012
Antonio Deltetto

Antonio Deltetto

One of our friends with a base in Tuscany recently asked me to buy him some Favorita from Claudio Rapalino one of our neighbours. It is closely related to the Tuscan Vermentino and Claudio makes one of the best that regularly features on our shopping list. Unfortunately we are not alone and an importer had scooped up his remaining stock just a couple of days previously. (more…)

Summer tastings- Guido Porro, Bera, Adriano and Pietro Rinaldi

23 July 2012

View of Costiglione Falleto from Guido Porro

Despite the lack of recent wine blogs, we have been doing plenty of tastings in between guests, surprise, surprise. As well as regular visits to some of  our favourite neighbours, we have also checked out some new cantinas mainly driven by general tastings both blind and open. A recent visit to the UK confirmed that the supermarkets there have almost zero examples of Piemontese wines on their shelves; not really surprising as they demand size and uniformity. Quite a few friends have been buying wine here and using the services of Mail Boxes Etc. In larger quantities e.g. 100+ bottles it’s possible to ship wine as a private individual to their home in the UK for £2-3 a bottle or less.

Here are some of the Cantinas that have attracted our attention:


Barbaresco a Tavola-act 2 & 3

22 June 2012

the impact of Nebbiolo

It’s hard to sit at the computer when the weather is so hot but I keep saying to myself I must write a blog. I have lots of notes, it’s 30c outside and HO is doing a rain dance for the garden. But despite the occasional darkening skies and accompanying cannons from Barbaresco: niente!

This year’s Barbaresco a Tavola was a treat and the wines we tasted from the 2009 vintage were uniformly good. It’s difficult to taste them in May as some were only bottled for the event and thus not at their best but even so showed well. The real test will be in September when we get a second chance to compare at Piacere Barbaresco. Nevertheless, tasting with friends, we usually reached a general consensus on our favourites. The food served at La Torre del Monastero was tasty and imaginative  and as it’s our closest bar we didn’t venture elsewhere. Those conclusions after the 2nd and 3rd dinners were as follows:

(more…) meets Giovanni Rosso, Sciorio, Icardi and Produtorri di Barbaresco

26 May 2012

Claudio & Mariagrazia Icardi

Bob Hamblyn ( had never visited Piemonte and seen the producers and their vineyards or even tasted their wines, that is until last month. His sons Gary and Ian are great fans and brought him over so that he could add something from the experience to his new winemaking venture in Eastbourne. 4 of our friends here made it a special occasion and deserve a special thank you for taking time to show Bob around. Fortunately he walked around with his mouth open in disbelief which made it easier to taste the wines! It has already had an immediate impact as he signed up for an bio-dynamics course immediately on his return to the UK. An afternoon with Claudio and Mariagrazia Icardi provided that impetus  (more…)

After the disappointing Barolo di Barolo, a great start to Barbaresco a Tavola

14 May 2012

Torres Neive

Barbaresco a Tavola got off to a cracking start last Friday with 20 Barbareschi 2009. We had also chosen well in La Torre del Monastero as the meal was excellent, particularly the tagliatelle with a sauce featuring our local butchers’ sausage (Cordero Figli, Neive) and  a main course of braised duck breast with pears. I am glad we are already booked in there again this Friday as I suspect they will be booked out.


Disappointing Barolo di Barolo

1 May 2012

Castello di Barolo

Barolo is a minefield with so many producers that I take every opportunity to taste whenever I can. For  the past 3 weeks, every Friday, there have been tasting dinners held at various Barolo restaurants with the wines of 10 different producers each evening. Sounds fantastic, and the restaurants were, but among 30 wines I struggled  to find more than a handful that I truly enjoyed. (more…)

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