Here I sit in my home in California, 6,000 miles away from the source. I take one draw from the Barbaresco I just poured in my glass and …
Immediately I am taken back to that wine bar in Neive, Al Nido della Cinciallegra where I went once with those lucky Americans who now make that village their home. It’s the one with heavily lacquered floors, wooden shelves lined with local wines, and a bar full of open bottles. Across the room I smell pieces of fresh cheese on bread and slices of salumi, laid out for apertivo.
I smell the fresh roses in the vineyards and dried rose petals too.
I see the Alba market strawberries. I taste figs—figs fresh from the tree of my agriturismo, Le Viole.
Or is that more like the fig jam that Renato Corino‘s mom makes? So sweet!
I am reminded of a magnificent spumante Brachetto and those black muscat grapes I found during a vineyard hike once.
In my mouth the texture is both velvety, like a fresh Alta Langa cheese …
… but at the same time, pleasantly rugged, making me think of treading through the clay soils of the Barbaresco vineyards.
Then I smell fog and rain clouds …
… and the essence of cracking hazelnut shells.
Cloves, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and all those fun spices get thrown in, like those in Chinato, a sweet local elixir also made from Nebbiolo, or cugna, a jam made only around harvest time, of apples, pears, wine grapes, and hazelnuts.
Finally there’s a little dust and some smoke. It’s the smoke I smell when they burn piles of wood on the hills—sweet, cedary, and spicy, like a cigar.
Then there are all the fun times I’ve had and will have again in the Langhe. It helps that the people who make Barbaresco also make some of the best Piemotese friends.