THIS TASTING HAS NOW SOLD OUT
Barolo and Barbaresco: no one would dispute that Piemonte is home to some of Italy’s greatest red wines. The only real competitor would be Tuscany and the rivalry between these two regions has many parallels with France’s old sparring partners, Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Although Nebbiolo has been planted in north-west Italy since at least the 15th century, it is only from the 1850s that Piemonte (and really only Barolo) was considered to be a region with any viticultural potential. It’s easy to blame the Italians for the nation’s squandered talent but in this case it’s probably easier to thank the French for recognising quality when they saw it. In any event, after a few wars, revolutions and false starts, the wines of Piemonte are now changing hands at prices that rival Bordeaux, if not quite Burgundy.
I’ve been travelling to this particularly enchanting corner of Italy since the early 1990s and have watched its steady gentrification. The renovation of derelict buildings, the arrival of smart hotels and eateries, and the profusion of boutique wineries all speak of an area very much on the rise. Wines which we struggled to sell 20 years ago are now on allocation only.
Having imported Piemontese wines for so long, it’s no surprise that a reasonable number of decent bottles have found their way into my cellar. On November 11 I am proposing to open a number of these with a group of just ten friends at The Nut Tree, a Michelin-starred pub near Oxford.
There will be no shortage of great vintages of Barolo and Barbaresco. From 1971 to 2010 we will look at the evolution of Nebbiolo from the perspective of changing climate, fashion and fortune. But we’ll also explore Dolcetto, Timorasso, Barbera and Cortese, all from the region’s greatest producers.
Although the wines will be the star of the show, the timing of this Masterclass is most fortunate in that it coincides with the International Truffle Festival in Alba and I shall have just returned from Piemonte, armed with a clutch of the world’s most expensive foodstuff, tuber magnatum pico. White truffles and Barolo: my mouth is already watering! Mike North, the Nut Tree’s exceptionally talented head chef, will once again design an eight-course menu specifically to complement both the wines and the truffles.