6 Days in Piemonte

Part 2

 

Sunday: A day of leisure; today will be different…

Just one appointment, that’s all; 09h30 with Prunotto. Oh, now they’ve invited us to lunch too, how nice! We got back to Rivetto at 17h30. It’s a good thing that Kara and Dale didn’t wait for us to go to Turin (which they hated!)

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After the tour of the winery we settled back to taste 20 wines while enjoying the lovely sounds of the neighbor's dog Yip-screeching for the entire visit -- almost 3 hours! Our hosts then took us to lunch at La Rosa Dei Vini, a fine restaurant which I have been to twice already. The view on this beautiful Sunday afternoon is incredible! The sky is fairly clear, although there seems to always be a haziness in the air in Piemonte. While the hills are green with cover crops, the vines are just waking up after a very long winter dormancy.

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After lunch, we go up towards Castiglione Falletto (one of the 5 major regions of Barolo, along with Barolo, Monforte, La Morra and Serralunga) to see the new property and look at some vines. The vines, as I just mentioned, are just waking up. One must look closely to see the difference between spur (dormant knot on the cane) and bud-break. As a chick emerges from its shell in a matter of minutes, the bud is barely cracking through and will take several days before the first leaf is opened.

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The great vineyard: Cannubi                     La Morra, off in the distance 

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                                                                               Here, you can see the hail nets                         and this is bud-break...

As I mentioned, Kara and Dale went to Turin for the day. As it turns out, they were repulsed by Turin and decided to go see Mont Blanc instead. This disappointment of theirs is a fine example of my dislike for big cities. I can give you plenty of other reasons (see EnoClub). Of course there are plenty of reasons to be there, but I don’t discount the negatives just to go someplace everyone will recognize when I relate it back to them.

We decide to make dinner something simple and Dale wants something close so he can get to bed. Unfortunately, the restaurants on our list don’t cooperate! This area is driven by seasonal tourists. Because of the long winter, some of the restaurants haven’t opened yet. Another issue I have found (throughout Europe) is that restaurateurs don’t give a damn about business. If they are closed on Mondays – they are closed on Mondays. It doesn’t matter is every hotel and agriturismo is sold out, they are closed on Mondays! One of the things I take pride in when visiting certain regions is knowing what’s available. The Good News is: I know of 7 restaurants within 10 minutes of where we are. The Bad News is: Option #1 has decided that they will only serve pizza at dinner (tonight, forever – I don’t know!) Options 2, 3 and 4 are closed and we just ate at #6 and #7.

Good news for Kara and Dale, who are staying at Tota Virginia – Tota Virginia is on our list of eateries! As it turns out, TV is closed on Mondays, so this would have been K&D’s last opportunity to eat here. What’s more, it’s a good bet that TV only turned 4 covers that night – us! The seasonal menu does not inspire me, but perhaps it was that late, large lunch that we had. Ricardo is the manager and he is a warm and inviting man who is a gracious host. I feel bad that we didn’t have a big meal or even drink lots of wine. TV is really a great place to eat during a sunset. One really couldn’t ask for much more than that view!

 

Monday. Our last day with K&D and Joel is also leaving after the 2nd appointment. We go with Joel to Roberto Voerzio, but Joel can’t recall exactly where to go. I learned a very important lesson here. Winery people are always going on and on about “yield” -- 30 hectoliters/hectare or 2 tons/acre for example. What this basically means (ignoring the issue of measuring a volume versus measuring a weight for a moment and that each grape variety has its own “sweet spot” for quantity and quality) is that any vineyard can produce a certain amount (let’s say 2 tons/acre) of highest quality fruit. Producing more usually lowers the quality, while producing less does not necessarily increase quality. 2 tons/acre is considered by most to be much better for producing better wine than 5 tons/acre. At Roberto Voerzio, it was plainly laid out for us: Vines are commonly planted 1 meter apart. Each vine has a cane that measures 50cm. The 50cm between the end of the cane and the next vine is wasted space. The key word here is “density.” Ultimately, if you don’t know the planting density, the knowing the yield is pointless. If a vineyard produces 2 tons/acre from 100 plants then each plant is producing an average of 20 pounds of grapes; from 2000 plants it is only 1 pound of fruit/vine. What quality of lemonade could one make with 20 lemons if the final product was 200 gallons? (See full article “Yields and Density”).

After this epiphanal visit, we go to see Elio and Silvia Altare. Elio, who might be retired at his age, is working the vineyards and we must walk down a 45° slope and hike through thick, knee-high cover crop to see him. Decades of working in the vineyards has not harmed his personality; he has plenty to say and a charming way of expressing it!

 

 

 

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