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Piemonte harvest blog by Anne Krebiehl

Published:  15 October, 2010

Oh to be back amongst the vines! This time they are Barbera and Nebbiolo vines in Treiso, the highest of the three villages that constitute the Barbaresco appellation. I am at Azienda Vitivinicola Pelissero and from the winery - the cantina - just outside the village one has an almost 360-degree-view of the glorious Langhe hills, clad in vines as far as the eye can see, with the odd poplar forest or hazel grove in between. This is, after all, also Nutella country - the Ferrero factory in Alba needs huge amounts of hazelnuts, as do the Torinesi confectioners for their famous gianduiotti.


To the north-west lies Alba, and across the Tanaro river the Roero hills, to the west, Giorgio Pelissero points out, is the hill that is La Morra and to the east, squinting in to the sunshine, we see Barbaresco and its tower. What I don't realise at this point is that I look like an extra from a horror movie. Wine, now caked on my cheek and temple, must have splashed on my face while helping Francesco with all the pump-overs of the fermenting vats. The Barbera ferments are inkily dark and their aromas cherry-fruit charged, one vat even has a very peppery spiciness about it. The mid-fermenation aromas of the Nebbioli are harder to describe, there is something floral, cedary about them. Francesco is patient with me and all my questions and part of our conversation simply is a vocab session, now that I know what a gomma (hose) is, we can start with our rimontaggi (pumpovers).


After two days in the winery I joined the picking crew: a band of cheery Macedonians, a sweet enology studentessa from the University of Alba, a jobbing photographer from Valle d'Aosta and both of Giorgio's parents: Luigi Pelissero is almost 82 years old - looking much younger - but completely involved in the harvest, smiling, joking and with a twinkle in his eye.


But what a difference a day makes: yesterday in the cold and damp we picked lots of Barbera, in small 22kg boxes, zipped up and grateful for every layer of clothing. Today in the sunshine we finished our Barbera spot and then moved on - on the back of the tractor round hair-pin bends - to pick sun-warmed bunches of Nebbiolo at the steep Tulin vineyard, enjoying every ray of sunshine, until it disappeared behind the soft hills, leaving a balmy twilight. Tomorrow I'm back in the winery - let's see what the day brings.