Grappa – a little bit of central heating!

On my first visit to Italy some 30 odd years ago, I encountered Grappa for the first time. The experience was something akin to drinking spirit through a sweaty sock! This was the Grappa of old, something that was used as a form of internal central heating for those working out in the fields in the cold winter weather, often taken in the form of a caffe corretto in the morning, a coffee laced with Grappa to numb the senses a little. But that same visit revealed that some producers were undergoing change, producing a finer spirit sold in elegant glass bottles to satisfy the demands of the emerging quality restaurant market.

Grappa is a spirit distilled from the pomace or cake left over from wine production. Years ago it would be used, stalks and all to make the spirit but today it is far more usual to de-stem the cake before production. The better the quality of the raw material, the better the Grappa. Speed is also a factor as the fresher the cake, the finer the distillate.

Although some Grappa producers use the continuous distillation method, some of the finest products are made using the original artisan method of batch distillation using small alembic stills, even making spirit from single grape varieties or even single vineyard products.

Once the spirit has been produced, there is then a choice as to the style it will finally become with some Grappa rested in stainless steel tanks for several months prior to bottling while others will undergo ageing in barrel, often for years and generally of oak or acacia wood which will enrich the style. It is important that with single varietal Grappa, the origins can be easily discerned, thus a Grappa made from Moscato will be light and fragrant whilst one made from Nebbiolo or Barolo will be fuller, richer and less aromatic, more so if it has been barrel aged. For the spirit to be called Grappa Vecchia it must have been aged in barrel for a minimum of 12 months and for Grappa Riserva, for a minimum of 18 months.

What was once a drink for the lower classes, Grappa has now become an art form with every strata of society drinking it but not as previously as the central heating of the working classes but as an elegant digestif to help the stomach digest heavy meals. Presentation in elegant, hand blown glass bottles is now seen, often the glass being worth more than the spirit!

Many wine producers will send their cake off to a distillery so they can sell a Grappa under their own name, for it is illegal to produce wine and distill in the same enterprise.

One thing to remember, although the style and quality of Grappa may have changed, the strength hasn’t. At 40º alcohol, it is still a potent drink. An old girlfriend on her first visit to Italy was once served a Grappa after lunch. She sent me a text saying “I’ve just had a Grappa. I think it must be a boy thing!”

One of my favourite Grappa producers (not Piemontese I have to add) is Nonino from the Province of Udine. They have a wonderful website that explains far better than myself about how their Grappa is made. To learn more, simply click the Nonino link here.

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Wild Boar in the Langhe – Cinghiale nelle Langhe

When I was in Albaretto a few weeks ago, I had been out to dinner with my girlfriend and on the way home, on the lane leading down to our house, we spotted a wild boar in the middle of the road. Not a very usual sight but nonetheless not exactly a rarity.

Since then Monica has seen the creature most nights. That is until a few nights ago when one of the local hunters chose to end its life. This reminded me of a similar episode about 4 or 5 years ago. Arriving around lunchtime one Sunday, I was greeted by my next-door neighbour. He asked me if I’d seen any blood on the road. I said I hadn’t but had seen a dead snake but there was no blood. “No’ he said, “further up the lane. There was a wild boar there the other night and we got one of the locals out to shoot it.”

When I asked what had happened to the carcass, he told me that half at gone to the local Circolo restaurant to feed the pensioners for free for a few days. The rest had been divided up between the four families on the road. I assumed therefore that included me! But no meat was forthcoming.

About a week later, we were all invited to a neighbours house to have a chestnut roast. It was a cold, foggy November night and when I arrived, all the men were outside taking turns to shake the big chestnut roasting pan suspended over a wood fire. The ladies were inside preparing other things to eat. We finally retired to the house with the chestnuts in a sack to keep them warm and the table was laid for sixteen. Quite a gathering.

The meal started with various salami and salumi from a local butcher, the host’s cousin and excellent they were too. Then we had a cross between a soup and a casserole of tripe and chick peas – it was heaven on earth and just the thing for a cold November night. I was expecting the chestnuts to come next but no, a huge pan of wild boar casserole was brought in and at which point everybody stood up and raised a toast to me, the generous benefactor of the wild boar! So I did get my share.

The chestnuts were delicious too and everything was washed down with a home made Dolcetto wine. The evening will always stay in my memory not least for the wild boar!

To some, it may seem cruel to shoot these majestic creatures but over the last decade, Italy has started to become overrun by them with the population now in excess of 1,000,000 beasts roaming the countryside. Not just the countryside either for in cities like Genoa and Rome, the animals are now starting to appear in the town searching for food. So bad is the problem that Genoa has given permission for local police marksmen to cull them.

The wild boar or cinghiale as it is called in Italian, is a close relative of the domestic pig. Their habitat of preference is in forests and they are generally nocturnal. But with food becoming scarce in the dry summers, they have now started to look closer to civilisation for their nourishment. Out in the countryside, they can cause havoc in the vineyards by not only eating the grapes when they close to being ripe, but also eating the plant. They can devastate other crops too simply by flattening them.

They have few natural predators so the population has really boomed and they are also dangerous to humans, especially the mothers when they are out with their young. They have been known to charge people and they can do so much damage to you, even killing you.

That said they are delicious to eat! So here’s a recipe should you happen to get hold of some of the meat. If not, simply use shoulder of pork. The flavour won’t be as strong but the casserole is equally as delicious.

Wild Boar Casserole – Cinghiale in Umido

Ingredients (serves 4 healthy appetites) 

4 pounds wild boar, excess fat trimmed, cubed into 1½ -inch pieces, 2 glasses dry red wine (for marinade), don’t forget, if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it! 4 juniper berries, 2 rosemary sprigs, 4 black peppercorns, 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

1 onion, chopped, 1 carrot, chopped,1 celery stalk, chopped, half a bottle of decent red wine for the cooking, 1×400 g tin chopped tomatoes, 1 handful of chopped parsley to garnish.

Method

Put the boar or pork into a bowl, add the juniper berries, rosemary, peppercorns, and bay leaves then cover with the wine for the marinade and the oil. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight, turning the meat from time to time.

Wild Boar in the marinade

The following day, when you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 150 C. Take the meat from the marinade which you can discard, put it in a large casserole dish with a lid, add the onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes and wine. Season well with salt and pepper and place the dish in the oven for around 4 hours when it should be really tender and the sauce will have reduced to a stick consistency. If it starts to dry out during the cooking, just add a little bit of stock to the dish.

Serve garnished with some chopped parsley and rosemary roasted potatoes.

Tip – If the flavour of the boar is particularly strong, you can marinate the meat in milk for a few hours before preparing the wine marinade which will draw out some of the stronger flavours.

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Langhe Hazelnuts – A new Consortium is born

Cravanzana from the hazelnut orchards

Last week, In Cravanzana in the Alta Langa, a new consortium was born to protect the quality and consistency of the local hazelnut crop.

Hazelnuts have long been prized in the Langhe hills and nowhere more so than in the Alta Langhe. Used by the finest chocolatiers, cake makers and chefs the world over, the nuts from this region are really the Rolls Royce of hazelnut production.

Whereas for wine, areas and individual vineyards have been classified by the quality of grapes they produce (IGP, DOC and DOCG) this exercise has never been undertaken for the precious hazelnut farmers. So thus a group of young and passionate growers from Cravanzana, Lequio Berria and Serravalle Langhe decided to create the Langarola classica-nocciola storica dell’Alta Langa.

For years, these hazelnuts were simply known as Tonda Gentile but a few years ago, some bright spark decided to register this name as a trademark and even for hazelnuts not grown in the Langhe hills. Silvano Bruna, the president of the consortium explained that something had to be done to develop the knowledge of both buyers and consumers alike, so that everyone would realise exactly what quality is being produced in this little piece of paradise

The aim of the consortium is not just to promote the quality of their production but also to regulate the way in which the nuts are cultivated thus guaranteeing the consumer the finest of quality from every nut. Said Silvano, “The road we will be following is that of decades ago taken by the great wine producers of the Piemonte, that obtained excellence from an area of limited dimensions. We believe that this is a part of the Langhe that has never really been considered but in which the products and the environment create an extraordinary marriage  between quality and beauty.

If you would like more information on these wonderful hazelnuts, they will soon have a website up and running telling the whole story of their journey and the way forward. As soon as it’s working, I’ll add the details to this post.

 

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More about Arneis and a recipe too.

The Arneis grape is now probably the most popular white grape variety grown in the Langhe and Roero regions of the Piemonte. But this wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1970’s it was almost extinct and was generally only used to blend into the tougher Nebbiolo wines to soften them a little.

In the 1980’s, white wine was becoming more popular and so, following the lead of a couple of growers, Arneis enjoyed something of a renaissance which has lasted to this day. For me, the best Arneis wines come from the Roero region where the soils tend to be sandier and the acidity achieved by the growers balances the aromas and flavours better.

It can be grown in the Langhe and Alfieri hills but the quality of the Roero was officially recognised by the authorities when it was elevated to DOCG status back in 2006. Again this is a personal taste but I’m not fond of oaked Arneis, I much prefer the fresher more vibrant wines fermented in stainless steel.

In style, the best Arneis wines will have aromas and flavours of white and yellow fruits (peaches and apricots) with some floral notes too (acacia) together with hints of almonds and hazelnuts and all backed by mineral undertones and a bright, refreshing acidity.

To enjoy it at its best, here’s a recipe for rabbit cooked in Arneis, a favourite dish of the Roero and Langhe alike. Growers to watch out for are Ca Rossa, Malvira and Cornerea.

Coniglio all’Arneis – Rabbit cooked in Arneis

Ingredients

1 rabbit, about 1.8 kilos in weight, jointed

1 onion, 1 carrot, 3 sage leaves, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of rosemary 1 clove of garlic, all finely chopped.

3 good glasses of Arneis

1/2 litre chicken stock

4 tablespoons vegetable oil (you can use olive oil if you prefer)

salt to taste

Method

Cook the rabbit in a frying pan, covered, turning it occasionally until it gives out its liquid. If this is farmed rabbit it may not give much out. This process is to eliminate any unpleasant aromas and flavours.

Throw away any liquid that the rabbit has given out after about 10 minutes, then add the chopped vegetables and herbs and gently saute with the rabbit until they become soft.

Then add salt to taste and the Arneis wine and continue to cook over a moderate heat for about 45 minutes, adding stock to keep the rabbit moist as you go.

Serve hot with fried potatoes and plenty of cool Arneis to drink.

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The Barolo Harvest 2017 and Fiera del Marrone, Cuneo

Barolo Harvest 2017

This week, I have been speaking with Paola Oberto from Ciabot Berton, one of my favourite Barolo producers who kindly gave me her overview of the 2017 harvest. This may not be the same for everyone due to the late spring frosts that caused some problems for producers dependent on exactly where their vineyards are sited but for Paola, 2017 was an easy vintage.

The beginning of the spring was really quite warm and the vines developed rapidly and by 20th April, the shoots were already 50 cm high. Then came the frosts for two nights but fortunately for them, only the vines on the valley floor were affected and those at higher altitudes, such as in their Roggeri and Rocchettevino vineyards, remained untouched. There was a little rain in May to help replenish the water in the soil but they were spared hailstorms unlike the people in the region of Asti where quite a lot of damage occurred.

After the bud set, the quantity of grapes per plant was fairly ideal, not too much and not too little thus negating the need for a green harvest later in the year. The summer was dry and warm, even hot at times and so the vines and potential fruit remained healthy and little work was needed in the vineyards after the middle of June. In order to protect the grapes from the burning sun, they decided not to thin the leaves on the vines and thus acidity was preserved so that wines would remain fresh.

Although there was no rain for three months (now over 4 months) the soils that are rich in clay allowed the vine to find sufficient moisture to carry on the ripening and thus the harvest came in with perfectly ripe grapes with thick, well coloured skins in perfect health.

Early ripening varieties such as Dolcetto and Barbera were harvested well before the normal dates, somewhere in the region of three weeks early. The berries were smaller than is usual and the juice very concentrated. The wines have deep colour and structure but alcohol levels are higher than normal at around 14.5 degrees.

Nebbiolo, ripening later as it does, had the advantage of the cooler, fresher nights that came along at the beginning of September so it was harvested only 10 days before normal. The acidity was near perfect and so were the sugar levels and after an analysis of all of the fermenting vats, the results show wines of great balance and with much potential for the future. The wines will be powerful, fruity, deeply coloured and perfectly balanced.

La Fiera Nationale del Marrone, Cuneo

This weekend, the national chestnut fair takes place in Cuneo. This is a fair that celebrates the humble chestnut, many of which come from the higher orchards in the hills above Cuneo. But it is not simply a chestnut fair: all types of gastronomy are on offer there for the public to buy from salami and salumi, cheeses, to hazelnuts and chocolate.

The stalls open at 8 in the morning and carry on through until around 11 pm. As well as the opportunity to buy high quality foods, the are also workshops and lectures being given by such organisations as Slow Food.

This is an excellent fair and when you read this it will probably be too late for you to organise a visit this year but it’s well worth making a note of it to visit in 2018 and enjoy all the fun of the fair!

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Alba White Truffle Fair – 7th October to 26th November 2017

Fiera Internazionale Tartufo Bianco d’Alba 2017

This weekend sees the opening of the Fiera International Tartufo Bianco d’Alba in Cortile della Maddalena, one of the highlights of Piemonte’s gastronomic calendar. Trifolai (truffle hunters) and brokers gather together to sell their wares every weekend through until 26th November.

Just walking into the arena, you will find the air heady with the pungent aroma of this white gold. But there are other delights to be savoured here too. Cheeses, salami and other salumi, wines, hazelnuts and chocolates are there in abundance. There are workshops and tutorials to help you know how to select this tuber and for more information on this, just click the link to the fair’s official website.

But 2017 hasn’t been the kindest year for this smart, aromatic fungus. The summer has been extremely dry with virtually no rain and this is what helps the spores develop. So far, truffles are small (but good) and it remains to be seen how the autumn and the truffles will develop. Prices at the outset are around 2.50 euro per gram but with the demand from the restaurants and private buyers anticipated to be high, it is suggested that the price will soon rise to around 4.00 euro per gram. No wonder they call it white gold.

For those of you keen to go, the best time to taste white truffle is towards the end of October and beginning of November. And if you are going to go along this year, it’s best to make restaurant bookings well in advance due to the high demand for tables.

A little further into the season, I’ll get back to you with more information on how things are progressing so if you’d like a more personal report, just contact me and I’ll be glad to reply.

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Anna Maria Abbona – Wine Tasting

Anna Maria Abbona & Paola Navello

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of tasting at the Anna Maria Abbona winery in Farigliano, close to Dogliani. Arriving unannounced with a great friend of mine, Franco Fiorino, we were warmly greeted by Paola Navello who gave us a quite spectacular tasting of the whole range of their wines. A few minutes later we were joined by Anna Maria Abbona herself, a charming and gently spoken lady with an obvious passion for both the land and her wines.

The company was started back in 1936 by Anna Maria’s grandfather, Angelo who purchased the Maioli vineyard. The estate was later increased by her father Giuseppe but rather than making wine himself, the grapes were taken to the local cooperative cellar for vinification.

In 1989, Giuseppe thought he would grub up some of his vineyards, an idea not being well received by Anna Maria so together with her husband Franco Schellino, they decided to give up their careers and return to their roots to make wine and tend the vines. Now it is a true family affair with father Giuseppe still helping out in the vineyards and with sons Federico and Lorenzo helping their parents.

Dolcetto di Dogliani has long been regarded as one of the finest Dolcetto wines available due to its fruity qualities, but back in 2005 it was elevated to D.O.C.G. status and now it has become more sought after than ever. Anna Maria Abbona makes one of the finest examples in my opinion, offering wines rich in fruit and unmarked by over-extraction and wood. Below are the tasting notes I made at the time.

Langhe Nascetta “Netta” 2016                                                                                              Nascetta is an indigenous variety more usually planted around Novello. The vines are still fairly young and only about 4000 bottles are produced on the estate. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at between 16 to 18 degrees C it is then aged for about 6 months before bottling. To preserve the freshness, no malolactic fermentation is done. The aromas were quite desceet and the palate also but the wine was perfectly balanced with a fairly long finish. It’s a wine to drink either by itself or with light fish dishes or cheeses. Price €10.50

Langhe Riesling “L’Alman” 2015                                                                                     Again a wine made from young vines (9 years in this vintage) this time from the San Bernado vineyard.The name Alman translates from the Piemontese dialect as “the German” with this being the more usual origin of Riesling. In fact in the Langhe, the soils give a quite closed form of this usually aromatic variety of grape. The nose was again quite discreet and also the palate but some good mineral notes support the light fruit. For me this is a wine that will benefit from some more time in bottle to allow the complexity to develop. Price €10.00 per bottle.

The San Bernardo Vineyard and Chapel

Vino Rosato “Rosa” 2016                                                                                                    100% Nebbiolo that is made without any skin contact thus the wine is quite light in colour but certainly not in flavour. As well as some perfume of small red fruits, there were also some aromas of peach and apricot. Gastronomic in style with plenty of fruit on the palate, good balancing acidity and some saline mineral notes beneath. An excellent rosé that could be drunk either as an aperitif or with an array of anti pasti or salmon. Price €9.00 per bottle.

Langhe Dolcetto 2016                                                                                                           This is the simplest of their range of wines made from the Dolcetto grape and made with everyday drinking in mind. Coming in at 12.5% alcohol this really is a quaffing wine. Moderate colour with good fresh ripe fruit immediately obvious on the nose. The palate is also fresh and lively with some light hints of spice behind fruit. The finish too is lively and fresh and this is just the wine to drink throughout a lunch or dinner. Priced at just €6.50 a bottle, you won’t break the bank either. See the notes on lunch when we drank the 2015 vintage.

Dogliani D.O.C.G. “Sori dij But” 2016                                                                           This is the flagship wine of the cantina and the wine that made me want to go and taste the entire range at the estate. The wine comes from grapes grown in several different vineyards with vines that are between 40 and 45 years old. It’s unmistakably a Dolcetto from Dogliano, quite structured and packed with fruit. The nose is quite intense with red fruits dominant, raspberry in particular. The palate is bold, chewy and laden with dark fruit flavours and hints of almond. Perfectly balanced with tannins that are ripe, the finish is true and long with some spice coming through. A great wine to drink throughout a meal and bold enough to stand up to rich flavours. Well priced for a wine of this quality at just €8.50 per bottle.

Dogliani Superiore D.O.C.G. “Maioli” 2015                                                                This single vineyard wine, planted in 1936 and 1943, is the oldest of the estate and now gives high quality fruit albeit in low quantities. Vinified and aged (12 months) purely in stainless steel, this is a wine that should grace every serious cellar. The colour is a deep ruby red, the nose is bold and expressive with some notes of violets and spice above the dark fruit. On the palate it is full-bodied, ripe and complex with plenty of ripe tannins to support. It is still a youngster and is sure to age gracefully for a good 5 to 10 years if cellared in good conditions but I enjoyed drinking it even now for its sheer youthful vigour. €12.00 perbottle.

Barbera d’Alba 2016                                                                                                             Made from grapes grown in La Morra, this is a very easy-drinking style of Barbera made and aged only in stainless steel allowing the pure fruit flavours to shine through. Red fruits dominate the nose with hints of beeswax and meat. Delicious on the palate with notes of violets above the fine ripe fruit. Well balanced and fresh. Priced at €8.50 per bottle.

Vino Rosso “Scavis”                                                                                                             Made from a blend of 80% Barbera from the 2014 vintage and 20% Nebbiolo from the 2012 vintage, the wine is not allowed to be called a Langhe Rosso. Nevertheless it’s certainly of Langhe origin and this is evident in both the aromas and taste. Quite savoury when following the Barbera, it has been aged in large wooden barrels for 2 years so the fresh style has now gone. I must say that although the quality of winemaking was obvious, this was the only wine that didn’t set me on fire. But don’t be put off by my note, we all have different palates. €8.00 per bottle.

Langhe Rosso “Cadò” 2013                                                                                             Made from 90% 70 year old Barbera vines and 10% Dolcetto, after vinification in stainless steel it was aged in wood – 2/3rds in large botti and 1/3rd in small French barriques.Quite international in style, the ripe fruit nose is certainly lifted by the Dolcetto element. The palate is full and robust, generous and long lasting in the aftertaste. A wine well worthy of ageing a little to develop more complexity. Priced at €17.00 per bottle.

Langhe Nebbiolo 2014
Another wine made from relatively young vines but not lacking class. After fermentation the wine was aged for 24 months in traditional botti. The aromas are fine and very Nebbiolo. Some meat, roses and violets and touches of spice. The palate is savoury, fine and meaty with a perfect balance between fruit, acidity and tannin. Priced at €13.00 per bottle.

Barolo D.O.C.G. 2013
The source of this wine is Castiglione Falletto, often renowned for it’s power, but here Anna Maria has crafted a fine and elegant wine that is a true joy to drink. After fermentation the grapes were allowed to macerate for around 3 weeks. Ageing was done for 30 months in Slavonian oak botti of 1000 litre capacity before bottling. The nose is fine, elegant and with the hallmark of Barolo firmly imprinted on it – ripe, savoury and with some notes of leather. On the palate it is ripe but not sweet, savoury but not austere. An excellent wine with plenty of class. The finish is long and structured. Price €30.00 per bottle.

All in all this was and excellent tasting of a top class range of wines. When we finished and said our thanks and goodbyes, we journied on a few kilometers to Murazzano where we had lunch at Osteria Ra cà’d Baruc, a traditional restaurant in the Alte Langhe. The food was excellent with four antipasti, two pasta dishes and two main courses plus a touch of cheese. And of course a bottle of Langhe Dolcetto from Anna Maria Abbona 2015. The wine compared to the 2016 had lost none of the vibrant fruit and freshness and was a total joy to drink with the various plates.

 

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Cheese 2017 – Bra, 15th – 18th September 2017

In 2017, Cheese celebrates its 20th aniversary. This great exhibition, hosted by The City of Bra and Slow Food International celebrates all things cheese. This year, the emphasis is very much on Raw Milk cheeses, looking back at how great cheese used to be made and showing produce with a great sense of origin. In the same way that winemakers strive to produce products with a sense of “terroir”, cheesemakers are creating products that have a sense of the landscape and indigenous plants that make up the diet of the native cows, sheep and goats that give their milk to make this quite remarkable food.

Cheese producers and vendors from across the globe are represented here with an incredible amount of offerings to both taste and buy. And of course, no cheese show would be perfect without a display of some of the animals responsible for the production of this gastronomic delicacy.

As you would expect for a Cheese Fair in this corner of the world, Piemonte was strongly represented as was the whole of Italy. France too and, being English, I was very happy to see a strong representation from my native land. I enjoyed a great tasting with the good people from Neil’s Yard Dairy in London and then went on to enjoy a much increased range of cheeses from the U.S.A.

As luck would have it, I was kindly invited to a private tasting of cheese and butter from Beppino Occelli from Farigliano. These were special and I’m looking forward to going to the dairy to enjoy the complete range.

But the fair was not just about cheese; beers, wines, pastries and hazelnuts were on offer together with many forms of chutney to accompany the cheese. One particular tasting was of hazelnut products from Papa dei Boschi owned by Jose Noe and exhibited by his charming wife Marina. Just the thing to nibble on to help clear the palate.

This is a cheese fair not to be missed and for all lovers of fine cheese, do put it in your diary for two years time.

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A little bit of heaven on earth

Sunset over the Langhe Hills and Monviso

Alba is a wonderful city. Historic, chic and above all, welcoming. The medieval towers are majestic, the recently renovated cathedral dedicated to San Lorenzo is a sheer delight where the modern and ancient co-exist very happily.  Walking down the main street – Via Vittorio Emanuele II or Via Maestra as it is known locally – you will find a great array of stylish boutiques intermingled with pasta, truffle and cheese shops. And don’t forget those italian icecreams which are available in abundance. For the gastronomic tourist there are plenty of fine restaurants, winebars and cafes.

But drive out for 10 minutes and you’re in the Langhe Hills. This is the heart of Piemontese wine and hazelnut production where the great crus of Barolo and Barbaresco are to be found. The scenery is spectacular and every few meters the view changes in a small way and every 100 meters in a big way. The serpentine roads creep upwards until you find yourself on a ridge top with panoramas that you can’t imagine without having visited the region.

The hilltops have many ancient castles dotted around, some of which are open to visitors such as Serralunga and Grinzane Cavour, the latter now a regional Enoteca for the local wines. Guided tours of both castles can be had and again the latter was the home of Count Camillo Benso of Cavour, one of the architects of the re-unification of Italy.

To get your bearings, a good place to start any visit is at the panoramic viewing point in La Morra where you can see the whole region laid out in front of you with a good map pointing to all of the historic places. The backdrop of the western Alps helps create stunning scenery – a friend of mine once said “Drop your camera here and you’ll end up with a wonderful photo!”.

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