Good lord what a spectacular place! We had baking heat and bright sunshine all weekend, and the wine flowed (and flowed). A visit to the area should be a must for any fan of Nebbiolo, Barbera or Dolcetto. We had a wine bar just around the corner from us (www.levignebio.com) which sold a fabulous biodynamic Langhe Nebbiolo made by Erbaluna for 11€ to take away. Money well spent. The trip to the Banco di Vini in Pollenzo was great too - the wine tasting there included an incredible 2006 Barolo, a very nice 2011 Rancia Chianti Classico, and another Nebbiolo called Bric Paradiso from Roero, that was spectacular. Much lighter, fresher and fruitier than most of the Nebbiolos we had.
I managed to get a Pelaverga with dinner on the Saturday night, which was far too light for the Bordeauxphile in the group, but the rest of us loved it.
Then onto the main event on Sunday, Mangialonga 2017. A 4km walk round the hills of La Morra wasn’t terribly appealing to start with, in the blazing sunshine. We were all starting to fade a bit on our way to the 2nd pit stop for Dolcetto and charcuterie after a fresh Bordeau rose to start. Thankfully, the wines sorted us out. The winning Dolcetto was the 2014 Rocche Costamagna - far more elegant and refined than the others we tried, although the 2015 Oddero was also very good.
To give you an idea of what the event was like, imagine 500 people traipsing along the road, some in fancy dress, with a stop every few hundred metres where a squad of people gave you a plate of food, and just next door, a big table with 20+ wines to try. Unlimited refills. As you might imagine, things become a little messy as the event progresses…
The next stop was Barbera and Langhe Nebbiolo, with Tajarin (thin pasta ribbons with lamb and butter). Lots of good stuff here - the 2015 Mascarello Nebbiolo was quite light and refreshing. I also enjoyed the 2014 Santamaria Nebbiolo which was more complex with hints of olive and sour cherry. The best Barbera we found was the 2016 Renato Ratti Battaglione. I think we all went back for seconds of that - fruity and sweet to start but then quite a dry finish - hints of oak. Mega!
Then we were on to the serious stuff - Barolo, paired with a slow-cooked beef stew and pollenta at the next stop, and then paired with local cheeses and grapes after that. I’m afraid by this time my notes aren’t quite as detailed, but I tried Barolos of varying ages by Marrone, Silvio Grasso, Ciabot Berton, Erbaluna, Saglietti, Viberti, Carlo Revello, Renate Ratti, Mascarello… and probably several others. My ability to really compare and objectively taste had completely gone. In general, the older wines were more interesting. The 2013s hinted at greatness, but were too young to be at their best. I definitely enjoyed the 2009 Saglietti. My brother had an uncanny knack for finding the older bottles and snapping up a sample just before they ran out. At the last of the Barolo stops, they were set up for karoake, so we lingered there for a while, returning frequently for delicious wines, before catching the free bus back up to the town square for the final stop…
The town square was lively, with a DJ banging out some classic soul tunes, mingled with awful Euro pop. The food was chocolate cake and fruit sorbet, and a few glasses of a delicious Moscato. I’m sure the party went on for a while, but we had enjoyed ourselves plenty by about 6pm and retired gracefully to our apartment.
An incredible experience, overall. We definitely got our money’s worth from the 50€ ticket. It’s an annual event, so I’m now saving up for another go in 2018.