Saturday 10 September
Today we drove west, returning to the foothills of the French Alps to expand David’s material gathered in May. At Costiglione Saluzzo we met Serena Giardanino and her father in their small domestic sized winery around which they grow Qualiano as well as Barbera, Nebbiolo, Chardonnay and Favorita, used in six different wines. Traditionally the area also grows apricots. Note: the so-called Nebbiolo is in fact Chatus
These are simple, unsophisticated wines, of which a third are sold as sfuso, and the rest bottled at a local agriturismo. The view to the south west was breath-taking.
We found a lovely ristorante on the edge of Saluzzo called Desideri which our next hostess at Cascina Melognis recognised (because of the soups!) and then arrived on time in a winery set in the midst of acres of fruit trees, under the benign gaze of Mon Viso. She was hospitable and informative; in the middle of harvest and getting adolescent children ready to go back to school!
Her pet nav was unpleasant (in my view); the rosato lovely; but I didn’t warm to the Barbera/Chatus but preferred the Barbera/Pinot Noir blends.
We left Saluzzo and drove east across the plain and back to the hotel – I Castelli – in Alba, (below left) and headed out in the evening light for supper at La Moderna, were the staff were warm and friendly. Makes such a difference!
Raw Fassona (again) and salmon with melanzane for me; D had spring rolls with anchovy and saliccia inside…Asian influences prominent and successful.
Sunday 11 September
A day to ourselves! We set off in the morning after a slow breakfast to explore the very eastern edge of the Bassa Langa – where the land rises above its familiar heights and eventually becomes known as the Alta Langa, bordering Liguria to the south. The combination of more affordable land and higher altitudes is attracting serious investment – not least by the successful producers of the increasingly sought-after Nebbiolos of Barolo, Monforte, Serralunga, La Morra and Castiglione Falletto. (For ‘Alta Langa’ think Highlands eg of Scotland, versus Lowlands – Bassa; however, the DOCG Alta Langa (for sparkling wines) is another story for another day).
Unfortunately the photo above isn’t sharp enough to make place names legible, but the Via Langhe leaves Alba (top right) heading at first due south in the valley, until it climbs up to Diano d’Alba, and then rides the ridges south to Serravalle.
The roughly circular red boundary line to the southwest of Alba encloses Barolo DOC; the smaller circle due east contains Barbaresco. The land on the eastern flank is visibly higher and steeper than most of Bassa Langa, in which Barolo lies.
We drove directly to Diano D’Alba and admired the extraordinary views on all sides (as did the dog, apparently, framed by the third floor window) before driving along the Via Langhe on to Serravalle Langhe where we stopped for coffee at Belvedere, a trattoria with rooms in its 95th year, and views to die for, and where the relief map photo was taken.
We continued south, and thensouth west, wondering what the landscape will become in 50 more years of climate change, as we reached 700m plus.
We headed for Dogliani, parking at the top of town, and walking down the old route, to the Osteria Battaglino where we quickly fell for the calm, friendly sophisticated ambience, choosing from an a la carte which didn’t differentiate between antipasti, primi or secondi… I had fish soup, and D the eel…. And a zuppa di frutta e verdure, and cheeses with a prunotto Barolo. Delightful!
We searched out the exhibition of Gianni Gallo’s extraordinary fine artwork, close by the Osteria, and kept company with the very helpful steward. The exhibits accompanied the area’s archeological finds in a beautifully maintained if underused space. They are exquisite!
I drove home for showers, packing and compiti before arriving early at Il Trittico to greet Chiara in Italian – which threw her. The American group paid us not a jot of interest thank goodness!
Tomorrow we move to Monferrato, and say farewell to Alba after ten happy and enjoyable days.