mardi, septembre 07, 2010

Wine Tasting and Lunch at Grinzane Cavour, Piedmont

Castello di Grinzane Cavour

I am not done with my Summer in France, but I have to go on about my weekend in Alba while the alcohol is still in the blood. 5Km from the famous town there is the medieval Castle of Grinzane Cavour. It is set amongst vast fields in the Langa almost entirely covered in vines. It contains the “Cavour” Regional Enoteca, the Order of the Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba, the National Association of Cheese Tasters (ONAF), an Ethnographic Museum and the Ristorante al Castello. The Castle has also given its name since 1982 to one of the leading Italian prizes for literature - the “Premio Grinzane Cavour”.

The grounds outside the castello

We did a tour of the castle including its museum and different halls before the men had a small wine-tasting session in the enoteca. Then we had lunch at the bar of the restaurant, not being able to eat in the restaurant itself with 8 children in tow.

The enoteca was the first to be set up in the Piedmont in 1967 and showcases some of the best Piedmontese wines and grappas. The region is known for its Barolo and Barbaresco wines, though personally I also have a soft spot for the sweet and sparkling Moscato d'Asti. Local food products like hazelnut cakes, jams and sweets are also sold in the boutique.

The vines outside the castle

In the Hall of Masks, cultural meetings and conferences, public and private functions are held throughout the year the most famous being the Chapters of the Order of the Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba. The Order has more than 200 members spread throughout Italy and abroad.

The museum includes displays on truffles, articles on the local food and wine tradition, 17th and 19th-century kitchen settings, a distillery from the 1700’s and a cask-maker’s workshop.

Speaking of truffles, the World Truffle Auction has been held at the castle in the Hall of Masks since 1999. It is usually linked live by satellite to two other locations abroad. The winning bids in the last few years were astronomical and some of them had been made by the Chinese.

A table in the restaurant

View of our table outside the bar

We saw a video on the castle's former owner the Count Camillo Benso of Cavour, one of the architects of the Unification of Italy. He lived there from 1832 to 1849 when he was Mayor of the village of Grinzane. He had made great improvements in Piedmontese viticulture, founded the Italian Liberal Party, the political newspaper Il Risorgimento and was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.

Mixed Salad

Zucchini Flan

Battuta di Manzo Crudo

Tajarin al Ragu

Scamone di Vitello

Lunch was lovely. We tried to eat light after nearly being stuffed to death the night before and everyone had a salad to start. The restaurant is run by a young and talented chef named Alessandro Boglione who used to work with Ferran Adrià. The menu at the bar was very limited though so I couldn't say for sure if he had any hand in it, but the food was good. Anyway, we love Piedmontese food, it reminds us quite often of French cuisine.

Castello di Grinzane Cavour
Via Castello, 5
12060 Grinzane Cavour (CN)
Tel : 0173 262159

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