Viva il vino!
I'll drink to that.
I've been talking about the creation of our local wine road featuring the wines of the Provincial of Torino off and on for over a year. It's been an exciting prospect for a variety of reasons, none the least that it will bring greater recognition to this area for it's wine naturally, but the knock on effect is that we continue to meet a lot of interesting people in connection with this project, and discovering much about the wine of our mountains and plains. That is always a bonus.
The Strada Reale dei vini Torinesi (Royal Route of Torino Wines) project kicked off over a year and a half ago and now seems to be chugging along. The Provincia very generously decided to offer, a series of wine tastings in a series of settings around our large province. The goal being to help familiarize our local wines to anyone interested and involved in and around the tourist and wine industry, free of charge, I might add. What a wonderful undertaking.
The first couple of tastings were in our Museo del Gusto in Frossasco (site only in Italian in spite of the English flag) with Marco Di Sabatino, the director of this project and a knowledgeable and passionate sommellier from Torino. He entertained and educated us about our local varietals of grapes and wines some with the more familiar names of Barbera, Dolcetto and Nebbiolo, and the more unfamiliar, if you're not from here I might point out, with names like Ramie, Freisa, Doux d'Henry, Malvasia and Erbaluce that have evolved and adapted to thrive in our mountains and plains of our section of Piedmont. The names also have a French sound to them, reflecting the time when we were a part of France and now, are the border between Italy and France, highlighting that these arbitrary lines blur over time and reflect the more natural borders of the mountains and rivers. These local Piemontese varieties highlight the characteristics of the soil and weather that come together to make up the bouquet of these wines and reflect the local preferences for lively wines that are oftentimes mistaken for inferior quality. As an American who has not grown up with drinking local wines, who came late to the table and grew fond of the full bodied wines with lots of oak, that are so prominent in our California wines, I can fully appreciate making this mistake.
I know my preferences and openness to sparkling red wines and the more subtle flavors of the reds and whites of this area has evolved and matured over the time that I have lived here. It takes an open mind and sometimes a bit of time and exposure to appreciate wines and flavors that we are unfamiliar with. I know I wasn't a fan of cilantro/coriander, the first time I encountered it when I moved to Colorado, but over time and actually a short time I grew to love it and now make sure to grow it here in my garden to enjoy it in a completely different setting. Local wine here have been much the same. My palate has come to enjoy and appreciate a greater variety of flavors and some of that comes from time and settings. Having someone explain and point out a variety of elements of what is in and underneath what one is tasting is an enlightening and liberating experience.
It helps to keep sipping to work on expanding your palate!
Our second tasting was in Andezano at the Azienda Balbiano a town behind Torino's hillside border and a winery that was established back in the 40's by our President of out Torino Wine associations father and his family today. It is an extremely charming cantina with a wonderful tasting room that will cool you off and quench your thirst on a hot sunny day. The family has added a small museum of toys in one end of the cantina and there is a wonderful fire place with comfy couches surrounding it, making a visit a wonderful winter destination as well.
All in all, the two contrasting locations of an old fashioned cantina full of wonderful antiques and winery artifacts and the sleek modern tasting laboratory of the Museo del Gusto made for a fitting contrast between the reds and whites of this provinces offerings. I highly recommend that you come here yourself and discover another range of Piedmont wines that reflects the character and personality of the Turin Province wines and it's people.