The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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54 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2015 { letter from London } "THE GREAT WINES OF PIEDMONT" WAS THE TITLE OF the five-day Arblaster & Clarke wine tour, only the second time the company has chosen me for Italy, the first being Tuscany some years ago, a region that I know reasonably well. For Piedmont this was far from the case, and whatever the 14 attendees learnt during the sunny late April days the vines were loving, I finally began to understand more about Barolo and Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Langhe Rosso, the white Roero Arneis, Gavi de Gavi, the rare Timorasso and the irresistible lightly sparkling Moscato d'Asti. Back home in Dorset on my return with some salami purchased the day before from a stall in Barbaresco, my wine at lunch was Sottimano's Dolcetto d'Alba "Bric del Salto" 2012 and for dinner Poderi Colla's Barbaresco "Roncaglie" 2001, any choice other than Piedmont being unthinkable. Monday, April 20 Early evening we arrived at Palas Cerequio, the "BaroloCruResort" conceived by Michele Chiarlo, one of the major names in the region, from an abandoned set of farmhouses above his Cerequio vineyards in La Morra, themselves abandoned in the 1950s. Before dinner we had a vertical tasting of this top cru, the 2010 being almost ready, my top marks going to the superb 2004 and the elegant 2000. Several wines were served over a splendid five- course dinner—that the food in Piedmont is the best in Italy was confirmed twice a day—beginning with an oak-fermented Gavi di Gavi "Fornacci" 2011 from 60-year-old vines, a Barbera d'Asti Superiore "Le Orme" 2012, a Barolo "Tortoniano" 2010 and a superb Tortoniano Riserva 2008 to finish, as at most meals, with a refreshing Moscato d'Asti. Tuesday, April 21 The morning visit was to GD Vajra just outside Barolo, one of my very favourite producers, established in 1972 by Aldo Varja, who is still very much in charge of 40 hectares of vines and a large modern cellar with stunning stained glass windows by a local artist. His dry Riesling "Petracine," planted with vines from Alsace in 1985 and 1989, is a revelation, the Dolcetto d'Alba, Barbera d'Alba and Langhe Nebbiolo showing textbook fruit and depth, the Barolos PHOTO COURTESY OF GAJA PIEDMONT The Great Wines of by Steven Spurrier

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