5:2 diet in Piemonte- part I

21 April 2014

Roast Pigeon at Stefano Paganini

Bricco Sterpone

Bricco Sterpone

The 5:2 diet has been a lifestyle choice that has transformed our routine over the past 12 months or so and has been essential to combat the omnipresent temptations of life in Piemonte. When you are surrounded by the best wine in the world at affordable prices, and dozens of restaurants providing everything from the €10 workers’ lunch to Michelin starred fine dining it is difficult to maintain “la bella figura”. And despite my best intentions I find it difficult to write this blog regularly as I am either hungry and down or simply too busy. At the moment I’m neither so I’m going to attempt to catch up.


Working backwards (and forwards)-Part 2

7 March 2014
Francone Chardonnay

Francone Chardonnay

Ca del Baio Riesling

Ca del Baio Riesling

The last few weeks have been a disaster as following a brief trip to the UK I returned with a cold that robbed me of my senses of taste and smell. I don’t particularly blame the UK nor my fellow airline passengers but I feel much safer here. It was only last week that I managed to fully appreciate what I had been missing as I tucked into a plate of spaghetti amatriciana/arrabiata and savoured the fantastic  Ca del Baio Langhe Riesling for lunch. Tea was a monkfish and prawn curry with a lightly oaked Francone “i Patriarchi” Langhe Chardonnay 2011: slowly but surely. HO is cooking Asian rabbit and pork which we will wash down with some old Bordeaux for some local Italian producer friends. Always saves a competition developing between them if you serve something “foreign”.


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.


How to say “hello/goodbye” in Italian

26 January 2014

I’ve always found it difficult to fully understand when to use “ciao”, “buon giorno” or “salve”. As I left the bakers yesterday I said “arrivederci” and the 3 assistants responded “ciao”, “buon giorno” and “salve”!

Cheerio for now.

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


Driving in Italy

11 October 2013

Having paid €800+ for just 3rd party insurance for my 8 year old CRV versus around £300 for fully comprehensive cover in the UK, I thought I would share some observations:

1. Most Italians think the Fiat they are driving is a Ferrari

2. Any space exceeding 1 car length between cars must be filled immediately.


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…)

Looking for somewhere to stay?

8 August 2013
Wilderness Cottage

Wilderness Cottage

Road to the house

Road to the house

So you’ve decided to visit the Langhe to discover the wine and the food but want some independence and privacy at the end of the day. Somewhere to relax and enjoy your purchases from a day’s wine-tasting or market visits without the constraints necessarily imposed by a hotel or agriturismo. We have recently renovated an old 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom rustic house near Mango and close to the famous wine growing regions of Barbaresco and Barolo and it is now available for let. (more…)

Time to eat

18 May 2013

Sunday lunch at I due Regni

Around Easter it seems to be one set menu after another which is a good opportunity to support local restaurants that are not necessarily regular haunts. Recently for example we booked at “i due Regni” a local pizzeria that was offering a set lunch and were blown away by the quality of the food, wine, service and company! Just 2 long tables and we were the only non Piemontese. As usual, although we didn’t know anybody apart from the staff, they knew about us and where we lived. We were seated with an 86 year old wine producer and his wife of 60 years , the President of the local Truffle Association and other smiley locals. We had drunk and enjoyed his wine in a local bar: (Cantina Parroco Azienda San Michele) originally founded by the Parish priest and some friends 40 years ago. Whoever says or thinks that the Piemontese are “closed” must have been lost. €30 provided 8 courses including suckling pig, rabbit in Barbaresco and wine. (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…)

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