Sunday, June 3, 2018

Piemonte: What a Finish!

Wine afficionados like to speak about the finish of a wine. It is the taste that lingers on the palate after the wine has been swallowed (or, for those who don't "inhale," spit out). One can wax as lyrical about the finish as one can about the aromas, the tastes, the tannins of a wine.

Since I have been on a wine tour, the "finish" seemed a particularly appropriate metaphor for the last day of our stay here in southern Piemonte. I think I was not alone among our small group of tour participants in thinking, as we set out yesterday morning from San Martino Alfieri, something along these lines: "Oh, God. I don't know how many more glasses of wine I can drink, how much more food I can consume, and if I eat another grissino (bread stick), I may burst.


That was before we arrived at the Marenco winery in Strevi, near Acqui Terme in the far southern reaches of Piemonte, with views of the Apennine Mountains in the distance. There, we were greeted by Andrea Costa, son of Michela Marenco Costa, who runs the family winery along with his sisters. After a short tour of the winery, where the firm's Moscato d'Asti and Brachetto d'Acqui are made along with other wines, we were taken high into the hills above Strevi to see Marenco's vineyards, some of which have been in the family for generations.

Roses were traditionally planted at the end of rows of vines because
they tended to warn vignerons of adverse conditions in the vineyard.

I'm afraid I established a bit of a reputation with my iPhone camera while on this trip. And then there was the time early yesterday morning when I went up to the terrace outside the castello to get a shot of the sunrise, setting off the castle's motion detector alarms in the process ... 

There just may have been some posing back and forth in the vineyards going on ...

None of us anticipated what awaited us after our tour of the vineyard. We walked back to our mini-bus then drove up and down and around until we arrived at the home of the Costa family on a hill in the midst of vineyards with panoramic views spread out before us. There, under the shade of trees, we found a wine tasting that one could only really dream of because I couldn't have imagined that such an idyllic spot existed. 

There, we were greeted by Andrea's mother, sister, wife and other family members and treated to glasses of Moscato d'Asti and served, straight out of the wood-fired oven, the most delicious focacchia I have ever tasted. The combination of the wine, the bread, the location and the people was nothing short of heavenly. Seriously.

Michela Marengo Costa bursting with enthusiasm and life.
What a privilege it was to meet her.

Me and Cindy, one of my new friends from this tour.

This experience on a hillside outside of Strevi was like tasting a new wine whose flavor bursts in the mouth, totally unexpected, leaving wide eyes and a smiling face. Such a choice experience, and so appropriate for our last day in Piemonte.

Thereafter followed lunch at a restaurant high atop a ridge that commanded a beautiful view of the valleys below and the mountains in the distance.

That evening, we traveled to Treiso for our farewell dinner in a beautiful restaurant with a stunner view of the Barbaresco appellation and the countryside beyond, off to the mountains in the distance. 

It has been a wonderful week, but one of the choicest experiences among the many we've had in the last seven days was that gathering on a hillside at the Costa home, being with the Costa family, drinking Marenco Moscato and Brachetto and eating homemade focaccia fresh out of a brick wood-burning oven. That finish will linger long and fresh and sweet among the many memories of this amazing introduction to the wine country of Piemonte.


  1. Another great post. Thanks so much for preserving these memories in such a beautiful fashion, Joseph.