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Eating Local… In Italy – Ten

Wine Country

by Krista Harris

  • Day Five: On the way to Barolo
  • What We Did: Wine tasting, brewery lunch, more wine tasting, and settling in Barolo
  • What We Ate and Drank: Castle breakfast, wine tasting, beer pairing lunch, wine, dinner, wine and grappa

We leave the castle and head deep into wine country to experience one of Italy’s greatest wines—Barolo, made from the Nebbiolo grape. We will actually be staying in the town of Barolo, but first we have some Barbaresco wine tasting to do. We are starting with the incredibly grand winery estate Marchesi di Grésy. It is one of the properties of the noble Marchesi di Grésy family. It feels noble and the scenery is majestic.

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We tour the property and see one of the most expansive and beautiful barrel rooms I have seen. All the barrels rest on gravel on one layer, no stacking for optimum even humidity. And the brick walls seem to ooze character and optimum humidity, too.

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Then we go into the bright airy tasting room and begin by tasting a Sauvignon Blanc. They are rightfully proud of their Sauvignon Blanc, it is fresh and nuanced with lots of flavor. It makes it hard to move onto the reds, but we do. Barbaresco, like Barolo, is made from the Nebbiolo grape, but it’s different of course. They say that a Barolo is more massive, with more tanins. I suppose we will have to taste a lot of different styles of each before we can have an opinion. But so far, we are incredibly impressed with their Barbaresco.

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Then we are off to another craft brewery for a beer pairing lunch at Birrificio CitaBiunda in Neive. This innovative brewery uses very original raw ingredients such as mint, champagne yeast, mulled wine spices, and bitter orange. We are here to taste some of these delicious beers with their equally inventive cuisine. It proves to be a match made in heaven.

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The rabbit salad (below) is one of the most original and fantastic things we are lucky enough to try on this trip. The rabbit meat is sweet and savory and a perfect contrast to the exquisite mixed greens with tomato and nice thin shavings of cheese. I eat every last bit and tell Shannon that we must try to recreate this recipe at home.

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Then we have a fantastic plate of pasta. I try not to fill up, though, because there is still a meat course and dessert. Each of these courses is paired with a different and equally delicious beer. I lose count of courses and of beers, and I just sit back and enjoy the food, the company and the atmosphere of creativity.

It must be hard to be a serious craft brewer in this land of famous wine and centuries of wine tradition. But I think that is what has driven the craft brewery industry in Piemonte. Only the passionate and talented come to this profession, and clearly they are succeeding.

Now we are off to another Barbaresco wine tasting at Giorgio Pelissero’s winery. This is another family winery that has been cultivating vineyards for generations. But in 1960 they began bottling and selling wine under their own label.

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Now the commercial operation blends the old culture and modern technology. During the tour of their facility we are fascinated by the many electronic doors that open and shut behind us sealing in the cool air and reminding us of the opening to the old Get Smart TV show.

During the tasting, we are equally interested in the wine named Long Now (a blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo) that is named for the Long Now Foundation, which has as its purpose a number of highly creative long-term projects, such as a 10,000 year clock. You can read more about their projects here. I am finding that there is often purpose and meaning behind each bottle of wine here. Winemakers and those that work at a vineyard or winery have much to tell us — to teach us.

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Then we check in to our hotel in the small town of Barolo. Our rooms are small, but Shannon has thoughtfully supplied us all with large bottles of water. And we have enough time to take a walk before dinner, which will conveniently be right at the hotel restaurant.

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It’s time to relax and to perhaps raise a glass in toast to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. His image is alive and well here, and I think today we have paid homage to him quite fittingly.

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Next… Day 6: Everything is Beautiful


Krista Harris is the co-publisher and editor of Edible Santa Barbara. You can read more about the Edible Santa Barbara Tour and sign up to be notified of the next tour on this page.

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