Our final day in Italy began with Barolo, the king of wines. Since these are some of the most elite wines in the world I knew it would be a day of indulgence. Valentina greeted us in the corridor apologizing for the rain as if she was solely responsible for the weather hiccup. She quickly escorted us inside and began to share the story of the Marchesi di Barolo.
It all began when Marquis of Barolo Carlo Tancredi Falletti married Juliette Colbert de Maulévrier, a French noblewoman and the great granddaughter of the Sun King’s well-known Minister of Finance in 1807. Juliette saw the great potential of the Nebbiolo grape and the wine made in Barolo. She trusted in complete fermentation and long wood aging to unveil all the qualities typical of the soil. Juliette died in 1864 and eventually the Abonna family took over the estate. To this day they continue to keep her legacy alive by continuing the work that began more than two centuries ago. The history of this important cellar has been passed down from parents to children for over five generations.
Valentina, one of the Abonna children, took us to the overlook to view the infamous Castle of the Marquis Falletti. The now museum sits in all its glory, and looks every bit as powerful as it did in photos from the 18th century. We toured the enormous oak barrels, old and new, that house Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Arneis of varying ages. The very eloquent Valentina beamed as she spoke of her family’s passion for tradition mixed with modern influence. We had the rare opportunity to tour a very special room to the Abonna family, a room that contained and protected collectable wines of the 18th and 19th century. I found my birth year 1971 and imagined how it might taste. These wines are not for retail, they are only gifted per the family’s request for unique occasions.
We shuffled into the tasting room and Valentina led us through a sampling of their prestigious wines. Following our tasting, we were led upstairs to the restaurant, where a beautiful table was set for our pairing lunch. Anna, Valentina’s mother, shared our table, and her loving presence made us feel as though she truly appreciated our company. She seemed so happy that we were there. The table was soon filled with beef tartare, pasta with truffles, and veal with vegetables, paired with 2012 Coste di Rose, Cannubi, and Sarmassa Barolos. We were even gifted the opportunity to indulge in their 1982 Antiche Cantine dei Marchesi di Barolo. Surprisingly, it tasted young with vibrant fruit and was perfectly balanced. It was such a delightful afternoon and our admiration for this family will never be forgotten.
We had some time to explore the village of Bra and revel in its picturesque views. This place had my husband and I written all over it. Quaint little cafes and locally owned shops surrounded by hills and a breathtaking backdrop. The girls and I decided to pop in a little wine bar by the name of Easy Cosi for a quick glass of wine before it was time to head to the town of Alba. There was a truffle festival in full swing in Alba and the streets were packed with people shopping and enjoying the festivities. We popped in a little café for a Baileys before our final bus ride back to the hotel.
Back at the Best Western we gathered together for our last meal together in Italy. We still had the remainder of the wines from the Consortium and a few bottles we purchased in Barolo. The last supper included Home-made egg thin tagliatelle with “Salsiccia di Bra” (typical sausage) ragout, Beef braised in Barolo wine, and Hazelnut cake. The night ended with the same extraordinary service as we received on our very first day. I think leaving Italy was bittersweet for us all. We were all happy to go to back to our families yet what we experienced together could never be replicated. I said good night to my 10 new friends and in the morning, we all said our good byes. Most of us connected on social media and I am sure we will stay in touch from across the miles. So, until we meet again, Grazie mile amici , mi sono divertita!