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First day in Piemonte

N.B. I have given up attempting to load a photograph of the day's activities as the local connection doesn't appear to be up to the task.

We blew into Alba after dark last evening and there was cold rain falling as we rose this morning, rain that had tuned into wet snow during the course of our breakfast.

We have been touring the communes of Barolo today, tasting widely and eating a rather good lunch. And it has become clear that the region, as many others throughout Europe, hasn't had a really bad vintage for some years.

We have largely been sampling wines from the vintages 2008-2011 and having a great deal of fun doing so.

Consensus has generally come down on the side of the '08s and '10s. They are energetic, intense, fresh, complex and incisive. They will also keep for many years in cellar.

2009s are less impressive, but nonetheless tend towards extreme deliciousness. They are lower in acidity, will take less cellaring, give a more accessible pleasure.

The joy of Barbera as a variety has thoroughly manifested itself through the day, examples from all camps from the simplistic easy drinkers to the more serious liquids for the smarter meals.

And there is snow on the higher ground. The inherent humidity of the region is manifesting itself and it is a cold landscape, draped in mists this day. It was only after lunch that the vapours lifted and the landscape emerged and revealed its scope and stunning undulation. It makes for a breathtaking vista and I very much hope to come back sometime when winter doesn't lie so heavily on the land. In the meantime, there is much tasting to be done!

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