Winelist: Piedmont in Northern Italy

I was asked recently what wine region I would most like to live in full-time and after a few moments thought I surprised myself by choosing not Burgundy or Provence but Piedmont in Northern Italy.

There are a few reasons including the fact that it was in Piedmont that the Slow Food movement began, and where it has its largest influence, but also because it is home to two of my favourite things — truffles and the Nebbiolo grape which also happily go very well together.

The rightness of my choice was confirmed at a 30th Anniversary Dinner for Ristorante Rinuccini ( in Kilkenny who first opened their doors in 1989. The meal was Piedmont themed with a number of classic dishes from the region matched with wines from Enzo Brezzo of the Barolo House Brezza Giacamo & Figli.

This was my first meal there in a number of years and Chef Antonio Cavaliere impressed as always, as did the wines. Brezzo’s wines are only available in Rinuccini so you will have to go to Kilkenny.

I particularly enjoyed a fruity Dolcetto d’Alba with Pappardelle and Wild Boar Ragu, a youthful but elegant Nebbiolo d’Alba with Vitello Tonnato and Brezza’s Barolo Classico 2012 with our cheese and truffled honey — one of the best flavours of the evening.

The Rinuccini wine list is comprehensive and impressive with more 90% of the wines exclusive to their list. Almost every region of Italy is covered and the chef told me that many of the producers have become friends over the years such as the well reputed house of San Rustico.

I was impressed to see a number of Brunello di Montalcinos (Tuscany’s best wine) on their list including Biondi-Santi who effectively created the DOC, I’ve only rarely seen this wine in retail. Super Tuscans on the list included Solaia, Ornellaia, Sassicaia and Guado al Tasso all similarly impossible to find in off-licences but you will find them on Rinuccini’s list and at fair prices.

My selections this week are all Italian with three from the Lidl sale which began last week and a couple of other favourites including two of my favourite Nebbiolos.

Diary: Cork Wine School at O’Donovans — Level 1, one-day course on Saturday, May 25, from 9am to 5pm, €199; Level 2, nine-week course, 7pm to 9pm Thursdays, €449.


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