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Food Lover's Guide to Italy

Piedmont: Wine, Goat Cheese, and Gelato

Last destination: Italy’s viticultural mecca, Piedmont. To most this means the Big B’s: Barolo, Barbera, and Barbaresco, but in-the-know grape geeks come to chase the elusive grail of Timorasso. In the vine-patched compact hills of the Colli Tortonesi area, in southern Piedmont, a maverick winemaker named Walter Massa has brought back to life the age-old, indigenous white grape. Vigneti Massa, his farm, presents so humdrum a face you might initially drive right past. But Massa’s wines have earned multiple tre bicchieri, the highest distinction from Gambero Rosso, a popular guide to wine and cheese. Imagine the spicy-floral-mineral charm of a Riesling trapped in a creamy powerful body of a noble white Burgundy. Bellissimo!

Nearby at Malvirà winery, in the Langhe region, Roberto and Massimo Damonte produce delightfully earthy Roero Nebbiolos, which pair perfectly with the pungent mysteries of the Robiola di Roccaverano goat cheese aged by master affineur Gian Domenico Negro of Arbiora. There are other memories not to be missed in Piedmont: the talented young chef at All’Enoteca restaurant, in the small Langhe town of Canale d’Alba, not far from Alba, packs duck, rabbit, and guinea fowl into olive oil and waits three long years until they achieve the plush concentration of a confit (crazy good!). Near Canale, you can’t skip the local-seasonal smooth gelato spooned from paper cups at Agrigelatera San Pé—“Agri” because this countryside gelateria doubles as a dairy farm, wholesome manure smell and all.

The latte for the gelato? Pumped from cows that very morning, of course.

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