Most definitely two of the things I love most about Italy is that:
ONE - if you throw a stone in just about any direction from where you are standing you are going hit a wine region; and
TWO - food and wine in this country are truly worshipped and thus are frequently celebrated in festivals, ‘fieras' and ‘sagras’ all year round.
And so this is how we spent one autumn Saturday, celebrating and worshipping Italian food and wine......…just for a change.
The area of exploration was Roero and the ever elusive white truffle. The hilly Roero wine region in north west Italy lies north of Alba and its wines are often shadowed by its famous counterparts in the neighbouring Langhe. But since the whole region of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato were listed by UNESCO in June 2014, the region and its wines are starting to come into their own. And with the annual White Truffle Festival being held just over the river Tanaro in Alba, more and more people are discovering the delights of the ruby red Roero and crisp, dry white Roero Arneis.
The Roero area was once an ocean, and so the terrain is sandy and mineral rich. As a result the Arneis are crisp and mineral driven, whereas the Roero has more elegant tannins than other more famous piemonte nebbiolos.
Our grey and drizzly autumn morning starts at Azienda Agricola Negro Angelo, and we are delighted to see that even at 10am we are not the first to be tasting wine. This family run vineyard has been making wine since 1670 and it is a pleasure to see that family still plays a huge role at this winery with three generations working side by side. Stand outs from this tasting are the Roero Arneis ‘Gianat’ which is aged in french oak barrique - a risky and rare choice for Arneis but producing an interesting and elegant wine perfect for the cool grey day of tasting, and the Roero Riserva ‘Sudisfa’ - a ‘cru’ of the finest grapes of the winery’s best vineyards.
The short drive to Alba is through rolling hills that I imagine on a sunny day would provide gorgeous scenery. But today’s decidedly autumn weather certainly sets the mood for our truffle laced lunch at the 86th Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba. Our ticket price to the festival includes two glasses of wine and so we stay on theme and select two Roeros to wash down our high end lunch consumed at a plastic table sitting on plastic chairs.
Next stop in the Cascina Chicco which has recently undergone a huge renovation to create a new subterranean wine cellar which is a true tribute to the Roero region. An underground labyrinth with intricately paved vaulted ceilings which are a hallmark of Roero wine cellars is truly the heart and soul of this winery. Our tasting here showed up some true surprises. Despite our scepticism we were pleasantly surprised by their Metodo Classico Extra Brut Cuvee Zero, a 100% Nebbiolo sparkling white wine is a rare find and a risk, producing interesting results. We also enjoyed the soft and elegant tannins of the hand picked Nebbiolo d’Alba Mompissano.
By the time we reach our third and final stop its already dark, but we are welcomed with wagging tails into the tasting room at Matteo Correggio, another winery where family is king. Here their claim to fame is that Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder loves their Roero, even getting snapped with a bottle of the stuff on stage by Rolling Stone Magazine. And we can see why. We also enjoyed their Val dei Preti Nebbiolo d’Alba.
After a long day of worshipping food and wine, we pile back into the car with the boot stocked full of the good stuff and head home, satisfied with the discoveries made today in Roero.
Want to discover the Roero wine region for yourself? Contact us about our wine tours.