Riding the Rolling Hills of Piedmont
PC & Tom Overlooking Vineyards at Mauro Veglio
A few days following the Gran Fondo New York, we left for Piedmont to cycle our way around Barolo. Stationed at Mauro Veglio, we visited with Gianfranco Alessandria, Piero Busso, Bricco del Sole and Ca ‘Rossa. “Their sense of camaraderie is greater than in any other wine region I’d ever been to,” said PC. “And their pride has nothing to do with business. It’s so important that they share with you their family, their work, how they’re preparing future generations and the history behind the property and region.”
Greg Reeves with Esterina & Tonin
While riding in La Morra, we met an 86-year-old woman who’s been tending Mauro’s steeply pitched vineyards for 40 years! Standing in Vigneto Arborina, Mauro wanted us to taste his ’98, and then the ’05 and ’06, and so Silvia [Altare] ran back to their neighboring winery to grab her same vintages. “It’s not a competition,” said PC. “It’s from the heart. By sharing an older vintage with you, they’re just sharing more of themselves. They just want you to be happy.” In tasting the two producers–same vintage/same vineyard–side-by-side, it was interesting to note the similarities at the start of Mauro’s tutelage with Elio Altare, and that as the vintages continued, Mauro came into his own personal style.
Vigneto Arborina Mauro Veglio & Elio Altare
With a couple of New York buyers and a retired professional cyclist turned distributor from Colorado, we rode 25+ pound tanks up and down the rolling hills of Barolo. Riding an uphill section of the time-trial course in this year’s Giro d’Italia, we rode past Castelletto, Arborina and Clerico. “We saw Piedmont in two of the most personal ways possible,” said PC. “On bicycle, by the vineyards and close to the soil, and by air from a helicopter. We saw a whole other perspective. On the bike, you’re suffering up the hills, but you can really see the landscape from the air. You see things you’d never seen before. It took the appreciation of farming here to a whole other level.”
Piedmont Love from Above
It is beautiful. It’s the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to. As far as wine country goes, it goes as far as the eye can see, with rolling hills of vineyards.
Most of our time was spent with Mauro Veglio, where we were stationed, and they were amazing. It’s such a family oriented-run winery. I’d been to Burgundy, where you meet the winemaker, the grower…but in Piedmont, you have the father, mother, daughter and son who make the wine as a family. They enjoy it as a family. It’s a great quality of life.
Rain Lampariello of The Standard
We drank ’98 Barolos at Mauro Veglio’s, and the attention they give to their wines is paramount to no other. The quality of winemaking behind their entry level Nebbiolo is on par with that of their Barolos.
It’s such an under-appreciated region. After tasting so many great wines, a few of which aren’t available in the States, I look forward to offering them. I’m psyched to show people what Piedmont has to offer. The whites are great. We drank Bricco del Sole Moscato d’Asti 2013, and usually [with Moscato d’Asti] the bubbles are so fine that they dissipate quickly, and once the bottle is open there’s nothing you can do. But Bricco del Sole bottles with a screwcap, and they’re soon releasing 750s and 375s with screw caps. It shows how progressive they are and how much they care about what they do.
Craig Lewis (right) of Stelvio Selections
What can I say about the trip? I had a fantastic time with T. Edward in Piemonte. It was a pleasure to finally meet Tom and Greg as well as some of their top buyers from NY. There is no better way to see the area than by bike – well, maybe except from a helicopter, which we did as well – and there is no better way to get to know a group of people than from a seat of the bike.
It’s hard to pick a favorite moment. I guess the best part was reaffirming my belief that Italy has one of the most enjoyable cultures in the world. It was inspiring to see how close each producer works together, totally forgetting that they are competition, and sharing it each one’s successes and setbacks.
It was an honor to meet so many great producers – from Alessandria to Veglio – and share a meal or three. I had recently picked up Busso for Colorado, but I had never thought that I’d be spending the afternoon at their house in the heat of a Ping-Pong battle with the family.
Tim Buzinski of Artisan Wine Shop
I can’t remember a better wine trip to Europe. Our first few hours set the tone for the entire week: we arrived in Roddino, had a leisurely lunch with a few bottles of wine, then headed to Annunziata where we prepared our bikes for a quick ride. We came back and sat in Veglio’s tasting room and soon, we’re sipping wine while snacking on a few slices of salami and the addictive hazelnuts native to the region. There was immediately a culture of friendship and welcoming that lasted throughout our stay.
The entire trip was informal, whether we were tasting at Gianfranco Alessandria or touring wtth Piero Busso, I always felt like a friend catching up on the current state of happenings at the winery.
The Busso Family
The trip reached its apex the day we visited Piero Busso, tasting his wines as well as those from other producers. Sitting next to Angelo Ferrio from Cascina Ca’ Rossa one cannot but allow this man’s enjoyment of his life and profession pour over you. With every phrase, none of which I completely understood, you can hear and feel the passion and almost giddy joy for his chosen life and circle of associates. Many of his comments were followed by his infectious laugh that made me long to speak Italian and spend an afternoon talking with this fascinating character.
Vigneto Arborina at Mauro Veglio in Barolo
We spent many moments with Mauro and Daniela in their tasting room. We always shared a glass of wine and food; whether it was the freshly made mozzarella with the producers or just eating pizza, there was always a culture of enjoying life and also the interest in quality. Beyond that, by the time we were about to leave, Mauro and Daniela had made me feel like a family member.
In addition, the cycling was amazing. This was my first experience cycling in Europe and I have been bitten. The roads were so much more less-traveled and the vistas were inspiring and breathtaking. I cannot wait to go back.