Friday, June 18, 2010

Wine in Piemontese Ristoranti

Memo Melendez, Owner and Wine Director, Profumo diVino, Treiso
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Recently, Antonio Galloni, the Italian wine writer for The Wine Advocate penned a short piece on some of his recent experiences with the wine service at a few restaurants in Piemonte. (He also was highly critical of two restaurants in particular. Why someone who is not a food critic would do so seems a bit odd to me, but apparently not to him).

Anyway, his main point was that wine service in many of Piemonte's top restaurants was not what he thought it should be. He wrote that wine service in these restaurants was "appalling".

He certainly is entitled to his opinion and so am I. He focused on "top restaurants" in Piemonte and perhaps he is correct. As he undoubtedly makes a lot more money that the average wine writer (especially those of us who are freelancers), he certainly has the means to eat at more expensive restaurants that my colleagues or I do. So maybe he should dine at a few more modest trattorie and osterie in Piemonte, because I've never had a bad wine experience at any of these places. Not only are the wines well stored, they are served in very fine stemware. Most importantly, they are priced extremely well. Most wines purchased at some of the finest restaurants in the Barolo and Barbaresco zones cost the same price or even less than they would on a retail shelf in the United States. You can purchase 10 year-old Barolos for 50 and 60 Euro. How much would they cost in New York, Chicago or San Francisco (assuming you could even find them)?

So I'd like wine lovers out there to know that wine service at most restaurants in Piemonte is quite good, often excellent. If Galloni found some flaws, so be it and he has spoken his peace. But again he concentrated on more expensive restaurants and certainly for the money they charge, they should offer excellent service. It is a shame that he had some bad experiences, but believe me - as well as several of my colleagues from Italy and the United States - you will enjoy many excellent wines at very reasonable prices in the town of Alba and all throughout the Barolo and Barbaresco areas.

Alessio Cighetti, Owner and Wine Director, Vinoteca Centro Storico, Serralunga
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Here are just a few of the restaurants in these zones that have a first-rate wine program, combining an excellent list, fair pricing and beautiful stemware:

Profumo diVino, Treiso
Ristorante Le Torri, Castiglione Falletto
Trattoria La Libera, Alba
Antiné, Barbaresco
Bovio, La Morra
Antico Podere Tota Virginia, Serralunga d'Alba
Vinoteca Centro Storico, Serralunga d'Alba
Enoteca La Torre, Cherasco
EnoClub, Alba
Il Vigneto, Roddi

This is just a small sampling - there are dozens more. I certainly look forward to trying more new dining experiences in Piemonte - for both the food and the wine!


  1. Huzzah, Tom! Sorry to come so late to this but I applaud you for bringing this to everyone's attention. The wine lists, pricing and wine service, as you've mentioned, at Centro Storico, Le Torri, La Libera and Enoclub (just to name a few) are pretty amazing, especially from the American perspective where we're so accustomed to paying extreme markups for mediocre wines and corresponding service.

  2. David:

    Thanks greatly for your comment. The wine and food scene in Piemonte is great and as you point out, the wines are great as is the pricing - a hard to beat combination!