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Cossano Belbo


100+ Posts
We will be in Cossano Belbo for 2 1/2 weeks at the end of May. I am aware of most of the "usual suspects" but would love to have any suggestions for those "hidden gems" to do or see or eat? We are wiling to drive a distance for something special. Also, do you have any favorite hikes/walks in the area?

As always, all help is welcome and appreciated.

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
The beauty of that location, is already it's a good distance from the tourist trail, let alone the mass tourist trail :)

We had a lovely 2 part walk organised by a local walking group in Castino. Not sure how we found them, but maybe through the tourist office, or merely stumbling across the event. There were (IIRC) just 4 non-Italians there. Might be worth a search for such events.

If going to Barbaresco villages, I'd definitely recommend Treiso for eating, as all 4 places in the village had their own appeal, from a simple trattoria that survived being overly-bigged up by a restaurant guide, to the fancy place with a big wine cellar, and a very traditional straightforward ristorante to a more casual enoteca with tasty lighter food. The tabaccheria also has some of the traditional sugar sweets 'Ginevrine'.

We've stayed in Bubbio before, which is a pleasingly tiny/humdrum village, but that understated charm is something we enjoy. Although the local walks are mainly on roads, those roads are deserted of cars, including the one up to https://www.google.com/maps/place/S...b!8m2!3d44.6863588!4d8.2859226!16s/g/1txr5p45 that @joe pleasingly surprised me with on one of our picture quizzes . More scenic around Castino/Cortemila I reckon, but nonetheless very enjoyable.

Not far away is Loazzolo, IIRC the smallest DOCG wine region in Italy, making some superb dessert wines from Moscato, but other wines of interest as well. We drove through but didn't stop, but it looked appealing.

Acqui Terme certainly worth consideration for a day trip, especially on market day, and there's a super large public car park in easy walking distance.

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
Do you have any winery visits planned?


1000+ Posts
We will be in Cossano Belbo for 2 1/2 weeks at the end of May. I am aware of most of the "usual suspects" but would love to have any suggestions for those "hidden gems" to do or see or eat?

I believe that in one of your previous posts, I mentioned the wonderful Mulino Marino flour mill in the town itself - I'd call it integrale with integrity ;). If you are planning to cook during your stay, you could certainly profit from a purchase of their great polenta flour.

Ian has given some good tips as usual. On both the places he mentioned I would add :

1) Just above Loazzolo is a very special winery and World Wildlife Association Oasis called Forteta della Luja. We went to the place after a recommendation from our hostess at the agriturismo we were staying at in the vicinity, just hoping to walk around in the woodland and terraces, enjoying the beautiful landscape. As like what usually happens with Italian hospitality, at some point someone spotted us and invited us over for a chat and tour. It turned out to be the owner, Giovanni, who took us to the impressive barrel room and explained about the whole fermentation process, and how the farm and immediate area came to be recognized as a WWF Oasis. This was 2008 or 2010. The farm has been family-operated for many years, and he told us how because of the steep terraces, the vines could only be cultivated by hand. This and the passion to leave nature untouched as much as possible, led to the farm and surroundings being an island of bio-diversity.
There are quite a few species of wild orchids, including bee-orchids, that grow there - and May is probably the best time to see them flowering, I believe. So you could certainly take a lovely walk there and come back with some unique wines as well. We were there in October, so missed the orchids, which I would have loved to see, as I used to go looking for them every spring in the area of Jerusalem, when I lived there.

2) Bubbio - our favorite town in the area, and like Ian, I can't even explain why. We stopped there for a break in a drive on a cold, foggy and dismal day. It was afternoon and everything was closed. But something about the public square with the shady trees, the small set of stores, and impressive cathedral made us go back. We enjoyed the local pumpkin festival that was held there, the small cafe by the square, the sign at the entrance to the town that read "a non-GMO community", and the general home-y atmosphere. Not for everyone, I suppose.

3) Another impressive wine producer : Torelli Biological Wines, another small family-run operation, just above Bubbio. Again, at the recommendation of our hostess, we went to see the place. Here, too, we were received with hospitality and graciousness. Of course we left with some wine and grappa. I know next to nothing about wines, but we enjoyed them very much and it seems that their products are highly recommended.

We are hoping to be in this area in October for five days, and I am sure that we will add more small producers to our list. The area is home to the delicious Robiola di Roccaverano, a delicate cheese made from unpasteurized goat milk, that is probably one of the best we have ever tasted. You will most certainly encounter it. The town Roccaverano itself is also worth a visit, mainly for its elevated viewpoint and tower. Go there on a clear day.

Just driving around on the backroads from place to place is so beautiful. The juxtaposition of small agricultural plots and natural woodlands is quite different from the rather uniform vineyard landscapes of the La Morra/Barolo area - even though these latter are undoubtedly stunning.


100+ Posts
I believe that in one of your previous posts, I mentioned the wonderful Mulino Marino flour mill in the town itself
Yes - I do recall your earlier reply and we definitely have Mulino Marino on our radar. Thanks also for the additional suggestions. It's great to hear first-hand from people that also enjoy being a bit outside the "madding crowd". We are really looking forward to exploring this area and bumbling around the countryside.

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
None planned yet. Recommendations?
We've visited a good few, plus tasted the wines of quite a lot more.

General advice
- I'll typically email any that I fancy visiting, and the majority seem to come back within a week. Whilst I write it in Italian, many have English speakers in the family
- There's a good listing of wineries on the langhe, roero (and now also Monferrato) tourist office site, including days they'll take visitors, address & email address, what languages are spoken and if there's a tasting fee. The info isn't always up to date, but is mostly so.
- I believe the tourist office winery visit booking scheme is still running, if that's easier
- Visits typically take 90 minutes plus or minus 15 minutes, taking in the fermentation barrels (and a discussion of vinification methods), then onto the barrel store (Steel, Barriques, Tonneau and large Botti are the ones likely to be mentioned, as well as oak type (typically French or Slavonian)
- If they have a bottling / label line, they'll show you that
- Bottle store of often unlabelled bottles in large bins, awaiting being ready to sell
- Then sitting down in the tasting room, often with some light nibbles and water to help cleanse the palate

- Although we've not visited them, I very much agree with the suggestion of Forteta della Luja in Loazzolo. They're arguably the leader in DOCG, yet because it's not a high profile region, it's no surprise to hear of a genuine welcome from them to visit. That should also offer an opportunity for some lovely walking and also an appreciation of a village that feels cozily tucked away in the hills

- We loved Treiso as a place to stay and very much as a place to eat, and the village is pleasingly tiny with nothing much there besides a school, 4 good places to eat, a bar/cafe (IIRC), a tabaccheria and (IIRC) a hairdresser and maybe 1-2 more shops. Winery suggestions would be Rizzi (possibly the best of the trio), Giuseppe Nada (somewhat fruit forward Barbaresco wines, but notable for an impressively robust Dolcetto), Fratelli Grasso (good but not stunning wines, but a wonderfully lovely rustic rural setting and friendliness to match, plus the prices, especially for magnums are very modest indeed). There are others, but nothing jumps out from what we've tasted,

- I'm just starting to caution visiting Barbaresco (in a similar way to Barolo) now, as whilst not impacted by mass tourism, there is certainly a growing level of tourism that can lead to standards slipping (and in Barolo, a creeping feeling that the tourists are shaping the place, rather than us fitting into the local culture / landscape). Nonetheless for winery visits, Barbaresco would be my recommendation if you just choose 1 village (it's in the restaurants where I feel standards are starting to slip). A special mention as well for the cosy regional enoteca opposite the Commune building, as it's a lovely setting to rest legs, whilst being able to taste a broad range of wines. A good solid enoteca. So to the wineries: La Ca'Nova feels a somewhat ramshackled / sprawling setup, but I like rugged / cellaring wines, and they fit that template very well, partly through their vineyards being suited to that style (Montefico/Montestefano). For years they were modestly priced and barely talked about, but in the last 1-2 years a leading US critic has talked them up :rolleyes:. Cellar door prices will I'm sure be very modest still, but maybe a chance to get to know them before prices rise as his followers buy as they are told. Albino Rocca would be my 'if you only visited one winery' suggestion, as they have a broad range, yet we found them really good across the whole range, making them a superb benchmark / starting point. Included in that are a superb Moscato d'Asti and an equally superb Cortese (the grape of Gavi, but theirs is better than pretty much any Gavi we've tried). Although the excellent Produttori del Barbaresco have a drop-in tasting room, I'd advise against doing that, as the drop-in experience is rather cold/impersonal. I've heard differing reports of booked tastings, from similarly cold/impersonal to really good. I suspect this is a by-product of their name, that they've already grown tired of the tourists. We've not visited, but do like the wines of the brother of PdB's winemaker (the family name is Vacca - see below), who set up the nearby Cantina del Pino. Do also grab a moment to look at the Barbaresco tower that features on the PdB labels. Moccagatta was an interesting tasting, though at the times they were a little too keen on french barrique ageing for our tastes, but may still be worth a try.

Plenty of others to choose from, and I'd always encourage people to take a chance on a winery not talked up (or even mentioned) by the critics, as we've found some gems that way. Sometimes the winery just sits outside the critics' groupthink, other times a new winery emerges when a family member leaves and sets out on their own (as it appears the case with a new winery bearing the Vacca name I noticed).

I hope this is helpful, but feel free to ask for more info / opinion.

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