12 Nov2016

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On our first full day in Alba, we got up refreshed after a good night’s sleep, had an excellent breakfast at the hotel, and prepared ourselves for a whirlwind tour organized by Mrs. MM with help from an Italian tour guide. Instead of renting a car and doing a leisurely self-exploratory (scream at the map software) kind of day, we hired a car/driver/guide so we could cover lots of ground on our first visit to the region. As we settled into the car, we confirmed our planned itinerary and headed through picturesque countryside vistas of vineyards, orchards, occasional highways to our first stop, the town of Barolo, most famous perhaps for its namesake wine, one of the best in Italy.

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Gentle sloping hillsides were planted to row after row of nebbiolo grapes… I would later find out that there is LAW that prohibits the growing of the nebbiolo grapes used for barolo wines on valley floors, flat and particularly humid areas, etc. Talk about intense?! Why don’t we have folks who do that for Philippine mangoes or duhat? The requirements for meeting the DOCG for Barolo wines include how many kilos of grapes you can harvest in a given acre (so yes, they trim and discard lots of grapes to ensure the remaining ones are the most concentrated in flavor and sweetness I suppose). We happened to be there in late September, in the midst of the grape harvest, so workers were busily harvesting grapes by hillside as they hit their peak (whatever that is for wine-making purposes).

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We passed several of the properties on the “favored” or “better” hillsides and they were groaning with bunches of grapes, limited to the lowest portion of the vines, for better/easier harvesting I gather. I always have visions of my parents childhood grape trellis in our home garden (in Manila!) and we always managed to get tiny bunches of incredibly sour totally inedible grapes but that didn’t stop my mom from tending to the vines for years and years on end. At least we had fresh grape leaves to garnish cheese platters! Come to think of it, I just ran out to our yard now and I still have a living grape plant with about 8 leaves just now, a nostalgic throwback to the vines in our yard when I was a teeny bopper… I digress…

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It took a lot of willpower not to ask Dino, our driver, to stop the car so I could pick a grape or two and take close-ups of the grapes on the vines (they are on private property, despite the lack of fences).

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It just felt so right to be amidst all these grapevines, dripping with deep dark grapes, headed to Barolo for a wine tasting with another expert guide whose only task was to explain the wine of the region.

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We arrived at the little hillside town of Barolo at just past 10am, and our wine guide was running a little late, so we had a chance to explore the outside of the castle and the narrow streets and homes in the town that officially has just 700+ people that live in it and the surrounding area of Barolo. These population numbers in the hundreds (just 400 in our little town of Benevello where our hotel was) were astounding. Some tiny barrios in the Cebu hillsides have ten times the population and don’t have a single product that they can claim as their own…

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The town was deserted, we only saw 2-3 residents tending their flowers or putting out the garbage, and it was quiet, perfect for a few minutes of exploring.

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The green and yellow plastic dogs on this balcony seemed a bit out of place.

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The skies that day were just amazing cerulean blue. Stunning.

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From the edge of the road near the Barolo castle, I looked downwards instead of at the horizon and vineyards, and was pleasantly surprised to see homes with huge gardens that included rows of vegetables, olive trees, and huge fig trees…

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…that had almost ripe fruit on many of the branches. I wanted to go down and ask if I could pick some to have for lunch with some prosciutto…

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…and this pomegranate tree has hundreds of fruit about 2-3 weeks from their peak! OMG, can you tell I was just as impressed by the town and castle as I was with the fruit and vegetables on the perimeter of town?! After 20 minutes of exploring, we headed back to the community’s wine tasting venue…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. marilen says:

    oh .. to be Italian in the next life. Truly lovely, MM.

    Nov 13, 2016 | 1:31 am

     
  2. Gej says:

    The plants are beautiful. Fig! And the buildings, they look so good close to each other, with the light bouncing here and there. There’s something special about Italian sunshine, which you captured really well in your photographs.

    Nov 13, 2016 | 4:43 pm

     
  3. Thel from Florida says:

    Breathtaking sceneries! Love, love, love. Appreciate all your posts.

    Nov 13, 2016 | 5:55 pm

     
  4. EbbaBlue says:

    wow

    Nov 13, 2016 | 10:05 pm

     
  5. Natie says:

    Such a perfect day for the tour. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Nov 14, 2016 | 5:46 am

     
  6. millet says:

    oh, why wasn’t I born there?

    Nov 15, 2016 | 9:22 pm

     
  7. Monty says:

    You should have brought some Zubuchon pigs and hunted for those white truffles. Hehe.

    Nov 17, 2016 | 8:41 pm

     

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