Rodello and Sinio in Piemonte

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       What a visit we just had to the Sinio and Rodello hamlets in the Cuneo district.   We stayed in Rodello and enjoyed fantastic food at Ristorante il Faro and Ca’ del Lupo in Montelupo Albese.  Accommodations at La Sismonda in Rodello were fabulous and the views were simply ridiculous.  The views are hard to beat.

      Check that out.

      We enjoyed a wonderful tasting at Azienda Agricola Rivetto in Sinio.  The wines are organic and produced entirely with reverence for the old methods.  We started with their Nascetta, a varietal that I’m not sure why hasn’t taken off in the US.  That was followed by Kaskal, a sparkling white not yet released in the US.  Fantastic dry spumante a bit more complex than your typical sparkling Italian white.  Creamy, but not like a champagne either.  Hard to describe…you’ll just have to try it!

      Next up was their Barbera.  I’m not ordinarily much of a barbera drinker as I eat pretty low on the food chain and don’t usually have the steaks and sausages and BBQ that make the acidity palatable to the American palate I’m stuck with, but theirs is the most well rounded and balanced I’ve come across.  None of the overbearing acidity you usually see.

      The tasting skipped over the Rivetto I’m most familiar with (their Langhe nebbiolo, usually available for around $19) and went into their 2009 Barolo (called Leon, which is pronounced “lay-uhnn” in the local dialect).  Big and full as you’d expect with the leathery notes you’d expect from a nebbiolo from this part of the world, but no doubt a wine that would benefit from a another year or two lying down.

      Up next was the 2008 Leon, and this was the consensus favorite in our group.  Softer tannins than the 2009, and a perfect mouthfeel that would let you enjoy the wine on its own no problem.  

      We spent another couple hours with our hosts Rita Barbaro (who conducted the tasting and who gave us a tour of the entire operation) and Enrico Rivetto himself.  The views of Serralunga D’Alba from their hillside are stunning. 

      A video wrap up here:

      The next day saw us enjoying the hospitality of Azienda Agricola Mario Giribaldi in Rodello; our host Katie Pattinson is warm and generous and gave us a great explanation of their efforts at producing clean but artisanal wines in the Piemonte style.  The views from their tasting room are stupendous.  As in:

      Giribaldi offers a nascetta and a local chardonnay that are quite nice, but the real fun starts with the Langhe nebbiolo the “Accerto,” which I’d describe as the wine of the trip.  It’d fool many an expert into thinking it was a Barolo and not just a nebbiolo, and was a table favorite when chowing down on tagliolini con tartufo and beef carpaccio at il Faro up the street.  We then got to taste their 2010 Barolo which was a bit young but still quite drinkable.  I found it a lot less the tannin bomb than their 2009 was and way more approachable.  The hospitality of the Giribaldi folks is well off the charts, and we consider them friends for life.

      A video wrapup here:

      The next day we walked  down to Azienda Mossio Fratelli, a smaller producer with a more rustic approach that is refusing to uproot his dolcetto plantings to grow more barbera and nebbiolo for the American market.  Valerio Mossio is a super-swell chap who, while possessing no English at all, is a great host (and my 400 or so words of Italian — thanks! — came in super handy).  His lineup is Dolcetto dominant and it shows, in a good way.  Not sure why that varietal hasn’t taken off better in the US — it’s super versatile and goes with everything from teriyaki salmon to mushroom polenta to pomodoro pastas to braised chicken to vegetable stew.

      The best of the lot was his the Gamus, an aged dolcetto that retained floral notes while offering a smooth mouthfeel for a wine known for tannins; the wine offers great clarity and color and was our choice for the table by the bottle that night at Ca’ del Lupo in Montelupo Albese, where Valerio joined us for dinner at our request.  What a fabulous meal.

      Where il Faro is rustic and offers no menu, just massive amounts of food by the plate until you beg for mercy, del Lupo is Piemonte fine dining at its best.

      Video wrap up of Mossio here:

      A great visit to Piemonte, and we cannot wait to go back.

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