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Golden Day Fifty-Six: Beautiful Barolo

June 29, 2011

Now to Le Langhe–those wonderous rolling hills of vineyards, where some of the world’s most beloved wines are produced: Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto d’Alba, Moscato d’Asti, Gavi…There are 750 wineries in the area.

For a Golden Day, visit the Marchesi di Barolo winery in Barolo, where you can walk in for tastings, or make an appointment to tour this gorgeous historic place. The winery overlooks the Castello Falletti where Marchesa Giulia Colbert lived in the nineteenth century. She was not pleased with the wine produced from the grapes growing around her castle, so she called in a French winemaker to create a wine similar to Bordeaux, which became Barolo. She was so happy with the results, she sent cartloads of it to the King of Savoy in Turin. Barolo became a hit there and in all the courts of Europe.

Marchesi di Barolo winery was once the Opera Pia Barolo, a charitable foundation that the Marchesa created to help the needy in the area. Since the early 20th century, it has been owned by the Abbona family and has won top awards and world-wide recognition. I loved my visit there, where I met Anna Abbona, a glamorous VIP of the wine world. On the tour, I got to see the incredible wine library, with a prized bottle of Barolo from 1859 and shelves that hold 35,000 bottles, with vintages from 1938 on up.

Lunch in the elegant Foresteria dining room was sublime, featuring Piemontese specialties–order the brasato–veal braised in Barolo. (Must reserve, 0173 564419)

In the afternoon, you may wish to stroll the quiet streets of Barolo, poking into wine shops, and tour the Castello Falletti (Daily 10-12:30, 3-6, closed Thurs), that originated in the 10th century when it was built as a defense against the invading Huns. Now it is home to the Regional Wine Cellar of Barolo, so after your tour you can enjoy more wine tasting.

A beautiful place to stay, south of Barolo in the hilltop village of Monforte d’Alba, is the Hotel Villa Beccaris, a converted 18th century villa that offers 23 luxurious rooms, all uniquely decorated, surrounded by a gorgeous landscape.

Barolo is a great spot to visit in the fall, at harvest time. The second Sunday of September is the Barolo Wine Festival, which is loads of fun–music, costumed performers, and of course, great food and wine!

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