13 Jan Piedmont
On the way back to the north, Kay decided to stop in Piedmont on the advice of a
friend who was a connoisseur of local wines and who wanted to help Kay improve his
skills. It is in Alba that he puts down his suitcases. Before talking about wine, let’s talk
about the vineyards and the landscape of the Alba countryside.
The village is surrounded by hillsides covered with vineyards out of sight.
The surroundings are sumptuous and make you want to knock on the doors of every
estate to find out more about their local wines.
Piedmont produces several appellations and around Alba, you can find the most
– The Barolo is the most charismatic and powerful Tuscan wine. Produced with the
Nebbiolo grape variety, it is called “king of wines, wine of kings”. It is aged for a
minimum of 38 months, of which at least 18 months in oak barrels.
– Barbaresco also produced with Nebbiolo. It is aged for a minimum of 24 months of
which at least 12 months in oak barrels.
Nebbiolo appreciates the calcareous clay soils that retain the water necessary for the
vine. It needs sun and a low altitude. The soils of the Barbaresco DOCG are sandier
and give lighter wines.
To extract as much colour and taste as possible, the macerations are very long, the
wines are therefore rather dark. Winemakers often use large barrels for the long
maturations required by the specifications.
Often, Piedmont is synonymous with the white truffle of Alba, but there is also another jewel, the wine of Angelo Gaja. The estate has existed since 1859 and it is Angelo’s grandmother who started to make their wines well-known through her work and perfectionism. In 1961 he took over the winery in the hills of Langhe. He introduced several new techniques in the region, notably the ageing of wines in French oak barrels. He is one of the first to undertake a parcel production in the region. Later he downgraded some of his wines to be able to add to the Nebbiolo a small proportion of Barbera to soften his wines. On the day of his arrival, the owner of the hotel suggested to Kay to taste the Langhe Nebbiolo doc Costa Russi Gaja 2001. The appointment was taken, in the week they will go visiting the estate and appreciate Angelo’s work. He was looking forward to starting this new experience given the incredible tasting. The wine is fantastic. The colour has a medium intensity, with purple to ruby reflections. The nose is powerful, with jammy black fruits, leather, nutmeg, liquorice, tobacco, with a beautifully integrated woodiness. On the palate, the wine reveals itself slowly but surely. The body, the power and the finesse are there. The wine is balanced and offers a pleasant length. The experience was unique given the view of the hills covered with vines. The Italian cuisine matched wonderfully the wine from Gaja. Another incredible tasting that he will remember for a long time and the best was to come with the visit of the estate and the discovery of each vintage.