Bravura! (part 2)

For whom the bell tolls, or should I say “is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell” Macbeth (W.S.)

Going to bed late every night full of good wine & food for a week in Monforte d’Alba, the one thing I had not planned on and did not need at all was the neighboring Chiesa della “Madonna della Neve” ringing her bells all night long, not just on the hour & twice on that hour, as if we all needed reminding but at every 30 minutes past. 1am ‘BOING’, 2am ‘BONG BONG’, 3am BOING BONG … and so on, and so on. Probably the worst week night’s of sleep I have ever encountered in my life. Torture! When I lived in Tuscany, the sound of the church bells chiming over the olive groves, vineyards and sunflowers where like a heavenly reminder that there is actually some sort of order amongst the Tuscan chaos. However, in Piedmont, I now understand a little more as to why these northern Italian folk are so well organized, making great wine and are up at 6am beginning their days work. Not much of a sense of humor, but good people and a fine cuisine to boot. Being September, the B&B was full, mainly German cyclists would you believe, and it was just my bad luck to have my digs no more than 25 meters away from the church and it’s bell tower. Some clever clogs at breakfast did say, why not use ear plugs? Well, for years now I always carry on trips abroad my ear defenders that I used to use rarely, but sometimes when out shooting in Kent. They where more to keep my ears warm than keep out high impact gunshot noise. Even these did not manage keep out the tintinnabulation of the Madonna’s bonging. Small change to complain about, of course, after such a splendid week that I will be repeating very soon, and without the clanging next time please. If any of you dear readers of the blog have interest in joining me in March/April 2023. Please do drop me a line here as I will be organizing a five day, non bell-ringing, trip all incl. (You will just need to organize your own flights to & fro, either arriving at Turin or Milan airports).

On my last day I was wondering around Castiglione Falletto after lunch, and before my next appointment with Vietti. I bumped into a nice fellow, down by the vines, who with great authority told me all about the latest harvest and what he described as the big drought of 2022. Now, from the look of the vines and the grapes in situ, you would not have thought that it had not rained there since March (6 months). Sure, the top soil was looking a tad dusty, and a little parched but the grapes looked extremely healthy indeed. The fellow went on to explain that the grapes this year are all very small indeed, yet with good color and they offered intense aromas on pressing. I left him there in his vineyard to go to the tasting, thinking well okay so there is less juice in 2022 but of what wine they will make it should be an absolutely delicious, highly concentrated vintage. Nothing wrong with that, cannot wait to try them all. Half an hour later I am in the cellars at Vietti being poured everything that they produce from Arneis & Timorasso to their Barbera, Freisa and all of their nine Vietti Barolo Crus. The three that knocked my socks off where all from 2018 vintage: Barolo Rocche di Castiglione, Barolo Ravera and Barolo Lazzarito. All long macerated wines, 5 weeks, and then into cask. All Vietti’s wines where beautiful to taste, not to forget the whites, and I just marked these three Cru out for their intensity, purity and quite simply brilliant wines that they are.

As I was winding up my my tasting notes, almost illegible, to head off back to Monforte & zee bell, a head popped round the door with a beaming smile. “How are you getting on there” he said. It was the wise man in the vineyard that I had bumped into on my little walk previous, and of course it was Luca Currado, the winemaker and old owner of the Vietti winery. What a treat and great stuff!

Castiglione Falletto is now one of my favourate Piedmontese villages and another surprise for me here was to come across the Fogliati vineyards also in Castiglione Falletto (North of Monforte). It was thanks to the GPS going wrong that I ended up here at Fogliati. Owned by the family since 1950s, Guido (Snr) Fogliati sold his fruit to bigger, local wine makers. When his grandchildren took over the place, Annalisa & Guido decided to go it alone. And in 2016 they had their first successful vintage under their own label. Everything just got better. With attention to organics and clean barrels, the two 2018 Barolos are a new style of Barolo Cru, very much in the way of a good Volnay. In stock with us today, we have these to offer and along with their super quaffable Nebbiolo Langhe @ GB£114 per case. Outstanding!

2018 Barolo Treturne @ GB£35 per bottle
Dark toned fruit, leather & spice. Hints of licorice & virility. Not at all heavy and I finished the bottle on my own at dinner.

2018 Barolo Bussia @ GB£55 per bottle
Succulent cherry, spice and tobacco. Rose petal and dried herbs. Charming, mid-weight and complex. A drinker and a keeper. Polished off at dinner.

2018 Langhe Nebbiolo @ GB£19 per bottle
Crushed red berries, minty and turf-weed (sweet tobacco). A year in barrel and came out as pretty as a penny. Delicious!

Prices are per bottle exclusive of His Majesty’s Duty & Excise (£2.25 per 75cl) + VAT, ex our London City Bond VT.

‘A knell is the sound of a bell .’ and don’t forget ‘Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower’ ……. Ciao! for now.