Degustazione in Piemonte

Our guest blogger today is 20+ year Kermit Lynch salesman, Michael Butler…

I visited the Piedmont region of Italy a little while back and it was one of the most enjoyable trips of my wine life. I drove there from Beaune after tasting at a number of our Burgundy producers, which was also great, but another story. As soon as I entered Italy, I stopped at a rest area for a snack and was amazed at how good the autostrada panini was — it just got better from there.

La Nebbia 2

View from from Castello di Sinio.

My base of operations was a comfy, classy hotel called the Castello di Sinio, in the southern end of Barolo. It is owned by a couple of Berkeley area expats who used to be clients at the shop. Not only are they the perfect hosts, but also the hotel is extremely comfy and in a great location for visiting the surrounding vineyards. Looking out from my bedroom window in the early morning I had a great view of the old town shrouded in la nebbia, the Italian word for the fog, which helps allow the Nebbiolo grapes to ripen gracefully.

The first night in town I drove to Ristorante Le Torri in Castglione Falletto and had a fabulous meal of classic regional dishes. I drank a lovely Barbera made in the traditional style (no new oak and not overripe) from a vineyard less than a mile away from the restaurant.

La Nebbia 1

The vineyards of Lazzairasco and Santa Caterina.

The next day started with a long walk in the hills through vineyards and hazelnut orchards, then off to see Guido Porro in Serralunga D’Alba for a tasting of his classic Piedmontese wines. Guido’s tasting room overlooks their Lazzairasco and Santa Caterina vineyards, which are perfectly situated to make delicious Dolcetto, Barbera, and Barolo. The estate is also an agriturismo, so if you plan ahead you can rent a room on the farm—nicer people you couldn’t meet and delicious wine!

But for me, I had to jump in the Alfa and race off to the hill town of Barbaresco and taste with Silvio Giamello, an excellent producer of organically grown Nebbiolos.

Sometimes finding these small wineries is easier said than done. In this case I missed the turn-off and ended up in the center of town. I guess I looked like a lost tourist (go figure), after about 2 seconds of looking around someone came up to the car and asked me in English (how did he know?) if he could help me. I said I was looking for Silvio Giamello, he said, “Oh, he is a friend of mine, follow me.” Two minutes later I arrived at Silvio’s. We tasted his excellent Langhe Nebbiolo and a retrospective of Barbaresco going back to the 1996 vintage, Yum!

I ended the day in Silvio’s dinning room that overlooks the surrounding vineyards. We sipped some of his older wines with salumi and cheese from local artisan producers. Sometimes my job is not so bad.

Silvio Giamello 2

Silvio Giamello


  1. Monroe Bryant says:

    Wonderful vignette. It gives me escape while I sit in front of my computer at my office…thinking of what bottle I may open tonight! I love the new spotlight on each salesperson. Great idea.

    And I totally dig Giamello’s Barbaresco that you carry. I think that may be my choice for tonight. I picked up a couple of bottles the last time I was in your shop, but you seemed to be running low. Will you continue to carry this wine? If so, when’s the next lot arrive?


  2. Hi Michael,

    Your trip sounds awful, but someone has to do the hard yards…I miss the staff at Kermit was the highlight of my trips to San Fran during my Qantas days…still getting great info from you..I have a Kermit lynch poster in my small natural wine bar….regards gill

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    The View from from Castello di Sinio image is amazing. The earth has so many gorgeous views… The simplicity, colors, and mystical qualities makes me wish I had been there to capture this one. Great job, Michael.

  4. Bill Hamilton says:

    As a result of your wonderful piece above, my wife Vicki and I have made reservations to stay at Castello di Sinio in late June. Denise was very accommodating and seemed thrilled that I knew of Kermit Lynch. When I get back to the Bay Area in May I’ll be coming by to pick up a few Piemonte bottles to start getting in the mood!

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