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24 Hours in Piedmont

Having had a couple of nights in Treviso in the north-east of Italy, it was time to cross the country and move into Southern France for an approaching wedding. Studying the map and trying to decide where to stop over night, the answer soon became clear: Barolo.



With 24 hours up our sleeve, we jumped into making plans. Accommodation was strategically booked in Serralunga d’Alba, as that is where Restaurant Centro Storico is located. It had been recommended by multiple people ‘in the know’ so dinner was booked for 8pm.


Before this though, a fantastic appointment at Vietti took place. Export manager Urs kindly took us through the winery and through a dozen different wines, including an in-depth look at the 2020 cru Baroli.



It’s true that you get some pretty spectacular views from all of Barolo’s 11 recognised villages, and indeed Vietti’s position in Castiglione Falletto proved just that. From this vantage point, Piedmont seemed particularly lush and green to me, so I questioned Urs on this observation. Indeed Urs confirmed that 2024 has seen a lot of rainfall which has brought plenty of smiles to growers and winemakers alike, off the back of three exceedingly dry years. Groundwater is being replenished and water stress to vines has disappeared. However, quite literally, when it rains it pours and now disease pressure is becoming an issue in certain spots. With two months to go (approximately) until harvest, growers would now love the rain to stop to facilitate ideal growing conditions at the pointy end of the season. Time will tell…



As for the wines we tasted, the 2020 vintage sits in between two more lauded vintages in 2019 and 2021. But the 2020s are utterly delicious! And in terms of approachability, perhaps they are similar to the 2018s in that they seem expressive and ready to go, without the need for long-term aging (as opposed to the 2019s).



A stone’s throw from Vietti is Terrazza da Renza - a casual spot for a drink in the afternoon sun. This was exactly what we needed and on arrival we were met by Renza who must be about 90 years old. She welcomed us warmly and showed us to our table looking out towards Serralunga. A bottle of Bartolo Mascarello Barbera d’Alba 2021 was swiftly ordered which tied a bow in the day’s travel.



At dinner at Centro Storico, the region’s signature pasta dish Tajarin worked well with the Giacomo Conterno ‘Francia’ Barolo 2018 we ordered. It’s a big wine, and to contradict what I wrote earlier, it would probably be better with more age.



The following morning we visited Pietro Oddero in La Morra.



I have known Pietro since meeting him by chance in Piedmont five years ago. Then in 2022, Five Ways hosted an Oddero dinner with Pietro in Sydney at Monopole. So it was great to visit his winery which is absolutely beautiful, with impressive gardens (aided by all of the rainfall) scattered between vineyard plots. His wines continue to be some of my favourite in the region - they’re beautifully composed and complete and somewhat effortless.



That concluded our 24 hours in Piedmont. Then it was back on the road and into France. Of course a few extra days here would have been fantastic, but I think we managed pretty well…