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Filling sausages and temporary magnums


The hills of the Barbaresco commune, 
with the Rabaja vineyard in the foreground


The landscape of this part of Italy lies like great folds of earthy cloth, so perfectly summing up the word foothills that the name Piemonte slips over the vineyards like a glove.

The weather, for our visit, was consistent, with various intensities of fog parting to allow rain to fall. And it was cold, too, the cellars feeling degrees warmer than the outdoors.

It's hard to pick out high points; there were many. Certainly tasting and lunching with Renato and Milva Fenocchio was a sublime experience. The wines here are a delight...as are the sausages produced from their own pigs, the vast slab of parmesan that appeared on a generous plate and the centenarian balsamic vinegar that was trickled molasses-like over the top of it.

Alas, I thought the sausages and cheese were lunch, so tucked in with gusto. I was more-or-less satiated when Milva indicated that it was time for lunch. Seven courses followed, each delicious, each somewhat superfluous to requirements but nevertheless absolutely delicious and including those tiny ravioli that are a speciality of the region.

The size of lunch was doubly impacted by dinner at an out-of-the-way and very local restaurant in some hill-top town. Every so often a waiter would deposit an opened magnum of wine on our table, only to remove it again after five minutes or so. Courses came thick and fast and I set to with a devil-may-care attitude.

Piemonte is a fine landscape producing world-class wines. With skiing but an hour's drive away it comes close to Eden-like levels of amenity. And i would love to see it with the vines in full leaf; love, too, to be there for truffle season (which we missed by a single week).

Once again, I reminded myself that I have too few of these wines in my own cellar, but this time included Barbera, as the quality of some of the wines we tasted from that variety made scales fall.

All-in-all, a fine three days for the senses!




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