First impressions: wine tasting in Piedmont



It was an Italian bottle – an Amarone – that really ignited Vanessa Armenio’s interest in wine. Now a Corporate Sales Account Manager in our Hong Kong office, Vanessa recently had the opportunity to indulge her soft spot with her debut Piedmont tasting trip. Here, she reports back on day one.

Having recently returned from a wonderful tasting visit to Burgundy, I was – admittedly – a little skeptical that anything we were going to experience – or taste – in Piedmont could better our French adventure. However, when I awoke on our first morning, I began to understand something of the grandeur and beauty of the Langhe. I walked out onto the terrace, overlooking the pool, and gazed out into the distance: I saw nothing but green, rolling hills and clouds etched across the bright blue sky.

We were greeted by David Berry Green, Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Italian buyer who lives in Piedmont, and who was to be our guide in the region. Day one was to be mainly spent in Barbaresco. We drove inland and along the River Tanaro and began our itinerary with a visit to Marina Macarino of Punset. She shared different vintages of her lovely wines from her three Barbaresco vineyards.

After the chance to take a few photographs, we were off to our second visit of the day at Bruno Giacosa. We met with Francesco, the oenologist, and tasted a series of fantastic wines, including its 2009 Barolo Le Rocche and 2008 Barolo Rocche de Falletto Riserva. The wines were seamless and utterly complex, making it difficult to single-out any specific aromas.

Next up, was a visit to Roberto Minuto of Cascina Luisin – one of the oldest and finest Barbaresco estates. Before tasting the wines, he took us out onto the balcony and explained the characteristics and soil types of each plot of land, focusing mainly on Rabajà. We had a tour of the cantina and began our tasting with the 2011 Barbaresco Sori Paolin (from his Basarin vineyard), working our way back to the 2005 Barbaresco Rabajà.

We were also privileged enough to meet Luigi Minuto (Roberto’s father), who shared a bottled of his 1971 Barbaresco which he had bottled himself, by hand. Having been opened the previous day, the wine revealed itself to be a real showstopper, full of meat, figs, raisins, and prunes. It was remarkable in that it still had a cleansing structure and acidity despite its age. To have tasted such an incredible wine in the home of the man who made it was an unforgettable experience.


After lunch, we set off to our fourth visit at Roagna. We were welcomed by Luca Roagna at the new cantina in Castiglione Falletto (located in Barolo), situated in the heart of La Pira vineyard. It was incredible to see the height of the vines, as both its Barolo and Barbaresco estates have vine canopies that extend as much as 1.80-metres high. The old vines, which are at least 50 years old, produce some of the most intense, well-layered and complex wines – full of fleshy red fruit, sandalwood and incense. We were privileged to be given a blind tasting: a 1974 Barbaresco, blended from grapes from Pajé, Asili and Montefico vineyards. From the huge cantina and the incredible wines to the vineyards and the pool located just outside the tasting room, it was an extremely impressive visit. (Although we’re still waiting for our invitation to one of Luca’s pool parties…)

Our final visit of the day was with Gianluca Viberti, of Casina Bric 460. With 10 hectares in total, he produces lovely wines that are both approachable and easy to drink.

That evening, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Da Flippo with David Berry Green, Maria Teresa Mascarello (of Bartolo Mascarello) and Mario and Luisa Fontana (of Cascina Fontana). Mario was kind enough to present his beautiful wines for us to enjoy over our meal, and we could not have asked for better. Bellies full, we headed back to Hotel Barolo to prepare for another day of tasting…