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A Wine Lovers Discovery of Alto Piemonte, Canavese and Valle d'Aosta:
October 13-18, 2019


Itinerary

Day 1:

A private car awaits to make the short trip (45 minutes) to the Alto Piemonte. There will be time to recover and refresh at Villa Aminta, surrounded by gardens overlooking Lake Maggiore, this opulent hotel in a lavish, art and antiques-rich belle epoque mansion. The afternoon is dedicated to an initiation into the magic of the wines of Alto Piemonte with a tasting and vineyard visit with one of Neal's team of dynamic vignaioli, most likely with the Rovellotti family in the historic town of Ghemme. While there, besides an extensive immersion in the wines of Ghemme, we will walk the corridors of the “ricetto”, a walled compound that served as a refuge for people of the area during times of strife and war. This tenth century citadel of 12,000 square meters eventually evolved into a communal storehouse for the agricultural products native to the area — with most of the surface dedicated to wine. It is there that much of the work of producing the Rovellotti wines takes place. Dinner will further immerse us in the traditions of the Alto Piemonte as Gianluca and Raffaella, the owners of La Capuccina will cook their farm-raised produce. (L, D)

Day 2:

Breakfast.

A morning private boat ride to enjoy the natural splendors of Lago Maggiore will include a visit to the renowned cheese affineur, Eros Buratti, with a lunch table set with the finest cheeses and other produce sourced from local farms. Then, we return to La Capuccina for an intensive cooking lesson with Gianluca, Raffaella and their team. This class will include introductions to their farm-raised produce and the delicacies typical of the Alto Piemontese cuisine. The evening will be dedicated to dinner at the Michelin-starred Villa Crespi, recognized as the finest table in the region. (B, L, D)

Day 3:

Breakfast.

The day begins by traversing the border between the Alto Piemonte and the rarely visited but quietly beautiful Canavese district in northwestern Piedmont. There we will spend time with Andrea Bianco, beekeeper extraordinaire and Neal's long-time friend and supplier and taste a stunning variety of flower-specific, vintage-dated honeys. Lunch will follow at Ramo Verde, a rustic trattoria in Carema, home to the rare wine of the same name. Lunch-time companions will be Roberto and Andrea Ferrando, masters of Carema, the most noble version of Nebbiolo. A hike in Neal's steeply terraced vineyards in the shadow of Monte Bianco will end the day's activities and prepare us for settling into the lovely Auberge de la Maison in the village of Entreves, the final outpost in Italy immediately below the summit of Mont Blanc and at the edge of the frontier with France. (B, L)

Day 4:

Breakfast at your hotel.

We will begin the day on the funicular to the summit of Mont Blanc, providing us with spectacular views of this heavenly place. At 15,781 feet, it is the highest mountain in Europe and the roof of the old Continent. Along the way, weather permitting, we will stop midway up the mountain to wander through the botanical garden which displays all the flora that grows on this breathtaking glacier. We will then descend for a tasting with another of Neal's growers, Ermes Pavese, with whom we will have a delightful lunch as we get to know his exceptional Blanc de Morgex, wine produced from some of the highest altitude vineyards in the world. The lunch with the Pavese family will be enriched by instruction from Ermes Pavese and his father, both of whom are talented butchers. As well, Milena Pavese, a brilliant chef, will demonstrate the technique necessary to produce a sterling polenta and other dishes native to this high mountain terrain. Nathan Pavese, the son of Ermes and Milena, tends the corn and potato fields as well as the vineyards. He will reveal the secrets of producing these important crops. The late afternoon will provide time to indulge at the spa at Auberge de la Maison or perhaps enjoy the thermal baths in the neighboring village of Pré St. Dider. Dinner at Dandelion, a local and delicious neighborhood trattoria will conclude this day. (B, L, D)

Day 5:

Breakfast and check out.

We leave the high mountains and on our descent to Torino, we will first stop in the village of Arvier to visit with Danilo Thomain, the producer of the sole estate-bottled "Enfer d'Arvier", a rustic red wine of mythic dimensions. A pass through the terraced vine- yards that sit exposed to the sun all year long will imprint this wine on your soul. The wine tour of the Valle d'Aosta will conclude with a stop in Ollignan, perched high above the town of Aosta, where the Grosjean family will receive us and then present the full range of their organically produced red and white wines that have made this family famous. A light lunch (is that possible here in the high mountain passes where the rough conditions foster hunger? We shall see...) will break up the trip to Torino. Dinner will be at Scannabué, located in the happening district of San Salvario, where it joins modish restaurants and bars that line the lively streets. (B, L, D)

Day 6:

After grabbing a morning pastry and a coffee at Al Bicerin, we will depart Torino by private car for Milan Malpensa and the journey home. This unique cafe, opened in 1763, is well known as a place where the most fashionable women of Torino enjoy a morning coffee after receiving communion at the Santuario della Consulata, the baroque church across the plaza. (B) End of services.