With the various restrictions we are currently living through, when we can eventually travel again, you would be forgiven for wanting to treat yourself. Luckily for you, the Langhe has no shortage of ways in which to do so…
Hot Air Ballooning
Nothing says luxury like a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Barolo hills. There are several companies offering flights, but the best is Giro in Mongolfiera. They have various take-off points (is that the term?) depending on the time of day and the weather, and offer a number of different packages, including group and private flights and even in-flight wine tastings. You will never forget the thrill of hearing (and feeling) the fire blasting into the balloon for the first time and then beginning your ascent above the hills. You’ll get to watch the area come to life as you drift silently over the villages and vineyards. It seems a shame to call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience as it’s so good you should do it as many times as possible!
Private Truffle Hunt
While maybe not quite as luxurious as a hot air balloon ride, a private truffle hunt is still an experience not to be missed. A trifolau and his dog will take you out to their favourite spots, explaining everything as you go. It shouldn’t be thrilling, but it really is… watching the dog pick up a scent and sprint through the trees to show the trifolau where to dig, and then you pick up that first aroma, which tells you whether it will be black or white. If you are lucky enough to find a good one, you can usually buy it and then take it home to shave over some eggs for lunch. Washed down with a good Barolo of course. There are several trifolaus who advertise locally and online, but for a real experience, ask your accommodation provider if they have a contact of their own.
Wine Tasting at Gaja
Anyone can (and absolutely should) go on a wine tasting. But a wine tasting at Gaja is different. Very different. First of all, you can’t just make an appointment and turn up, you have to be ‘accepted’ (if that’s not exclusive, I don’t know what is). Secondly, you need to make a donation of around 300 euros per person to a charity of Gaja’s choosing. That sounds like a lot, but this is a special place and if you love your wine it’s worth every penny… Tastings are usually hosted by the wonderfully-named Gaia Gaja, daughter of Angelo Gaja, an absolute pioneer of Italian wine who is credited with transforming Barbaresco from an obscure Italian wine into one of the world’s greatest. Year after year they produce what Wine Spectator describe as “perhaps the finest Italian wines ever made.” A tasting here is guaranteed to be the wine tasting of a lifetime.
Less exclusive, but no less enthralling, a day (or even two) with a private guide is the ultimate way to get the most from your time in the Langhe. Before you arrive you can talk to them about your interests and tastes and together with you they will put together an itinerary of wine tastings, restaurants and anything else that takes your fancy, tailored exactly to your interests. They will pick you up from your accommodation in the morning and drive you through the hills, telling you all about the history and geography of the area as you go, then they will accompany you on the wine tastings to make sure you get as much as possible from the experience. This is one of those things that I really can’t recommend highly enough. It’s not cheap, but it will add so much to your stay that it really should be essential!
We work closely with three local guides, get in touch if you would like to know more, and tell them we sent you!
Anna Savino – Italianna
Valerie Quintanilla – Girl’s Gotta Drink
Evan Byrne – PiemonteMio
An Evening to Remember
If you are fortunate enough to be staying in a Villa, such as, ooh I don’t know, Villa Ribota maybe, then you really are in luck… skip going out one evening and make everything come to you instead. Get a private chef to come to the house and prepare you a restaurant-quality dinner (you can work with them to prepare the menu) and why not get a wine producer to come along too and provide a tasting. The chef and producer can work together to ensure that the menu pairs perfectly with the wines and the producer can talk you through everything, answering your questions and keeping your glasses topped up, as you dine. Basically, you’re making all the best of the Langhe come to you. It really doesn’t get much more luxurious than that… Oh, go on then, get some white truffles too!
If you want to know more about any of our recommendations, just let me know, I would be happy to help!