Travels in Piedmont: What to Eat?
The famous white truffles
The birthplace of the Slow Food Movement, Piedmont has many regional specialities, some of which you are probably familiar with, but here's a quick overview of some of the dishes to look out for:
Tajarin, pronounced 'tah-yah-REEN', is long ribbon pasta similar to a thin tagliatelle which is made from dough enriched with copious amounts of egg yolk. In one restaurant they announced that 40 egg yolks were used in the preparation of that evening's tajarin! Needless to say the resulting pasta is a rich, silky tangle, best served with sage pan fried in butter (or truffles!). Simplicity itself but oh so delicious and the perfect comfort food.
If you fancy having a go yourself at putting a tajarin together, we have a recipe gleaned from a previous visit to the region.
Agnolotti are delicious little egg pastas stuffed with roasted meat and usually served with butter, sage and parmesan. As always, each area has their own version, so if you're in the Langhe or Monferrato look out for the agnolotti del plin which are tiny and rectangular shaped rather than round.
Vitello tonnato is a classic Piedmontese dish of very finely sliced veal served with a dollop of a rich fish sauce made from tuna, capers and anchovies on top. Initially wary, one bite and I was hooked!
Back to the business of wine!
Barolo, San Giuseppe 1985
It goes without saying that the main reason for our visit to the region was to visit wine producers, both old friends to The Society and those new to our portfolio. Over the five days that we were in Piedmont we visited 19 producers, all of whom showed us wines which I would have happily taken home with me.
Fortunately, it is not my job to decide which will make the cut, and so I concentrated on those which had the magic combination of nice views, good wines and a welcoming cellar door.
Visitors welcome, but book ahead
Please note that you do need to book in advance if you'd like to visit any of the wineries mentioned.
Here's a selection of some of the best…
GD Vajra are no strangers to The Wine Society, we've been stocking their wines for years. Based in Barolo itself, this charming family are happy to welcome Wine Society members to their property for a tasting.
Sarah Knowles MW with Francesca Vaja
GB Burlotto, based in Verduna, are stalwarts of The Society and here Fabio produces some stunning, elegant wines. Whilst Fabio is busy in the winery, his sister Cristina runs the Locanda dell'Orso Bevitore just down the road. A charming 'farmhouse' with rooms which provides a perfect base form which to explore the local area.
Cantina Rizzi, which supplies The Society's Exhibition Barbaresco, also has accommodation. Situated in the hills of Barbaresco, it goes without saying that the views are spectacular.
If you're looking for something a bit more 'high-end', Poderi Luigi Enaudi might fit the bill with its helicopter pad and bottle-shaped swimming pool, not to forget some seriously good wines.
If you're based around Alba check out Poderi Colla, an unassuming winery up a very twisty dirt track – you have been warned – where you will receive a warm welcome, along with the prerequisite amazing views and fabulous wines. Pio Cesare haven't got the views, but they do have a spectacular set-up right in the centre of historic Alba with some wonderful wines to match.
Sebastian and Sarah with Federica, Tino and Pietro Colla
Finally, one to watch is Famiglia Anselma. Due to be opening its doors to the public this summer this is an amazing Disney-style castle situated between Vergne and Barolo. Built painstakingly by master craftsmen using only hand-hewn local stone, no expense has been spared in building this winery, a level of detail which flows through to the wines produced here. This is definitely a place to visit.
Sarah Knowles MW and Sebastian Payne MW with Maurizio Anselma of Famiglia Anselma
Where to go next?
Don't forget to visit the Fine Wine pages to find our latest en primeur offer of 2016 Barolos which we'll make available in March 2020.