EuroCup 2016 was in full swing when we made it to Asti. Italy played Spain that first night and while wandering the streets once occupied by the Romans, Goths, Lombards and more, frequent bursts of excitement were heard in cafés and bars. Then victory, a massive eruption onto the streets; Italy won this match!
Asti is a name I’ll bet most of us know, and have had a sip or two of at some point. We ended up in that town for convenience, this impromptu trip was for Barbaresco, Barolo, and Arneis.
Being spontaneous in a famous wine region in the peak of summer travel season can be a bit challenging. However, we found a restaurant, quasi wine bar called Pompa Magna and parked ourselves there for a few hours.
The gracious owner shared a sampling of the region and introduced us to a small production sparkling Barolo, such a treat! (I failed to capture the name, it’s on the far right.) Sharing a few small plates while tasting made for an enjoyable experience we would happily repeat.
We made it to one winery conveniently located near Alba*, in the heart of Piemonte. Ceretto is a pioneer in producing single vineyard Barolo, among other things. Our tasting consisted of comparing two vintages of both Barbaresco and Barolo (2006 and 2012) , a Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Asti, and Arneis. Our guide, originally from Denmark, did an outstanding job. She felt our passion and indulged us.
Our first experience with Arneis was at Seghesio in Sonoma. We’d never heard of it but welcomed a try…obscure grape? No problem! Since the Seghesio introduction we learned that in Piemonte, it mostly played a supporting role to soften the aggressive tannins of Nebiolo. Thankfully it stood up to becoming extinct at one point and continues to grow, producing a fragrant, peachy-pear, medium body wine with hints of almonds. Ponzi in Oregon is also making an Arneis.
It was a short trip. We already agreed another excursion is necessary. The great thing about living in Bordeaux is we can make that happen!
If going to the region for wine exploration, we recommend basing yourself in Alba, Neive, or one of the other smaller towns. Due to timing we enjoyed the charm of Asti.
*For those traveling without a car, take note! The train from Asti to Alba is a quick ride, and Ceretto is easily accessed by bus or taxi from Alba.