Visiting Suppliers in Italy

Visiting Suppliers in Italy

Earlier this month Peter and I had the tough job of going to Italy to visit some of the producers we ship directly from. After a bit of faff with flights and exercising a lot of patience with BA we made it to Verona. First stop Vescovo Moro for a late supper and a glass of Castelveder Franciacorta on arrival – molto bene.

The next day started with a 3 hour drive South West of Verona to Gavi, Piemont. First stop La Chiara, owned by the Bergaglios. They have been producing top quality Gavi for three generations. When you visit La Chiara you get a real sense of family, passion and tradition. Founded in 1976 the family played a key role in the success of Gavi and making it so recognisable today. Their range over the years has diversified but their ‘Gavi DOCG del Commune di Gavi’ whites are still the most popular. Their production of Gavi is so consistent from vintage to vintage and never disappoints. When we visited it was a full family affair, Roberto (second generation) took us around some of the vineyards and the winery. Simona (third generation) led the tasting and Silvana (Roberto’s wife) cooked the most delicious meal for our lunch, the courses just kept on coming and coming. We tasted their Brut style spumante, the green and black label Gavi’s, Groppello and Timorasso.

Trying to avoid the Grappa di Gavi that Roberto brought out at the end of the meal we headed West to Barolo. First stop Cantine Gemma. Founded in 1978 by Silvano Piacentini in Serralunga D’Alba, the heart of Barolo. In 2012 Cantine Gemma built a new state of the art winery which is CO2 neutral. So, the whole process from vineyard to bottle produces zero carbon emissions – big tick from us!! After visiting the winery we headed up through the Langhe hills of Barolo, probably the most spectacular wine region I have visited. We arrived at the Giblin vineyard (Gemma’s Riserva Barolo) in Monforte D’Alba to be greeted by the cutest vineyard Golden Retriever… walked around the vineyards with the grower and tasted all the Gemma wines. The ‘Gemma Ruja Langhe Nebbiolo 2022’ and the ‘Gemma Giblin Riserva 2015’ were the standouts of the tasting for me. Glass of refreshing Moscato on the terrace with the best view, followed by a brilliant local supper.

Day three and time to visit Braida. Like Gemma wines we have supported Braida since we first opened in 2006. Located in the Asti region, North East of Barolo their main focus is on Barbera and wow do they do it well. Don’t just take our word for it, Jancis Robinson writes in her Oxford Companion to Wine ‘The man who first put Barbera on a pedestal, or at least demonstrated that it was capable of making serious wine rather than local mouthwash, was the late Giacomo Bologna of the Braida estate’. Still very much a family affair Braida is now run by Giacomo’s daughter and son, Rafaella and Giuseppe (the winemaker). They have expanded considerably over the years as have their green credentials; solar panels to produce all their energy, reservoir to hold enough water for drip irrigation to name a few. We had a fascinating and instructive tasting with Norbert (Rafaella’s husband and Export Director) trying local grape varieties such as Nascetta and Grignolino alongside the Barbera’s. Their wines are stellar but their ‘Ai Suma 2020 – Barbera’ was a real highlight for me.

Back to Verona to taste wines from a few regions; Lombardy, Veneto and Tuscany. From Lombardy we tasted the Castelveder Franciacorta. From Veneto; Soave, Lugana, Valpolicella Ripasso and Amarone. Finally, the Tuscan wines; Chianti and Montalcino. If you haven’t tried the Quercecchio range of wines then you must – brilliant wines and great value for money. The Rosso di Montalcino has plenty of black cherry and is full bodied but the ripe fruit flavours almost give it a perceived subtle hint of sweetness (without there actually being much residual sugar). The Brunello di Montalcino is more savoury with a hint of marmite, but the bright acidity adds freshness my very technical tasting note says ‘GREAT!’. It was the first time trying the Silvano Piacentini whites for me, the Soave and Lugana were a revelation. Of course, the Amarone’s were as consistent and delicious as ever. The Recioto di Soave and Recioto della Valpolicella were deliciously sweet but with great balancing acidity providing freshness. 

By this point with a full on day of tasting and driving we were in need of a pick me up. So, onto Verona for our last night. Quick aperitif overlooking the very famous ampitheatre followed by an excellent dinner at Trattoria I Masenini which I cannot recommend highly enough. If you find yourself on a city break in Verona, check it out. I am already desperate to get back to the region and explore some more.

Please note the products linked might be a different vintage to what is mentioned above. 

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