It's that time of the year again, the "vendemmia" and the talk turns to the prospects of the wine harvest for the year. Some of our wine making friends say that this years quality is high but yeilds are low. Sounds like good wine at higher prices to me. It was a fitting time to celebrate the start of this years harvest and attend the launch of La Strada Reale dei Vini Torinese, held at the beautiful "Martini and Rossi"(link in Italian only ) original home and muesum in Pessione di Chieri.
This celebration was the culmination of our province's increased effort to showcase our distinctive and tempting culinary treasures of Torino(Turin) province, comprised of bountiful mountains, plains and valleys in this sprawling province. This royal wine road designation draws attention to our territorial wine whose distinct flavor springs forth from the land and tradtional grape varieties that come together with it's hard working people and noble Savoy dynasty history, to secure our place upon the Italian wine stage. Thanks go to Torino's director of provincial traditional culinary offerings, Elena di Bella who has worked tirelessly to bring the long overdue recognition that our local specialties so deserve, and Anna Rinaldi, under Elena di Bella's direction, who has put her full energies into to bringing this wine road project to fruition. Anna organized several wine tastings with a noted sommelier to offer an opportunity for us to discover and familiarize ourselves with our neighbors wines. We participated in a couple of these earlier this summer. Not only was it enlightening and fun, we also met other interesting wine producers of these tasty wines and also innkeepers, enthusiats and supporters of this project. Naturally, there are many of our colleagues involved that will offering lodging and culinary opportunities as this project takes root and flourishes. TEM, (only in Italian at this point) our personal ecological, sustainable, toursim association is excited to support, promote and collaborate with this wonderful initiative, to put our deserving area on the map and help bring a bit more prosperity to our "off the beaten path" part of Piedmont. Exciting times indeed.
The evening consisted of time to tour the museum in the bottom of the house that houses a very important collection of over 600 artifacts which tell the history of wine from the 7th century BC until today. There were beautiful ancient Etruscan wine vessels and ornate drinking horns and cups in the first rooms. I particularly loved the 17th and 18th century ornate and simple Piemontese carts used to carry the harvested grapes. Pictured above is a cart used to transport the finished the wine.
This good sized 17th century alambicco (alcohol distiller or "still" as we quaintly call them in the US) is what was used to make grappa. After the grapes seemingly have given all that they can for the making of the wine, the "must" is then used to make grappa even today. The museum really is an interesting attraction if you have an interest in the history of wine and worth seeking out if you are in the area.
The remainder of the evening, after all the speeches and slide show about our very generous hosts, Martini & Rossi of the Bacardi group's facilities, was filled sampling the familiar and not as familiar wines of Torino province. There were knowledgeable sommeliers on hand to help guide and educate us about the locations, variety of grapes and wines. It wouldn't be a proper Italian aperitivo event without some tasty treats to go along with the dolcetto, barbera, erbaluce, freisa, nebbiolo and moscato wines and this was of course no exception. I must say that the chestnut porcini soup was a stand out for me and will probably find me making an attempt to make it here as we move into chestnut and mushroom season here shortly. Perhaps I'll even share it here if I get it sorted out. I know I'll be seeking out some of the wines I tried last night to add to our offerings when you find yourself staying with us. A great event and a project worth seeking out when you make your way to Piedmont, but more specifically, Provincia di Torino. We'll be waiting for you with a bottle or two in the cantina. Cin Cin!