Last year a group of our friends gathered for an enjoyable afternoon in celebration of Phil's birthday courtesy of the Rocca family at their winery which is nicely positioned just outside the Piedmontese town of Monforte d'Alba, about ten minutes away from one of our favourite spots: Barolo. The family were midway through the process of extending their facilities and the day was a sunny beautiful one, so we, our children, our friends and some of their children (all well over twenty now!) sat outside in a semi-circle and Federica, their daughter who was a few months pregnant at the time with her second child Gregorio, took us through a generous, educational tasting of their well-regarded range. Alongside was a simple, delicious lunch of fresh tomato bruschetta and a few local cheese provided by her mother Catarina who could not cook us her usual excellent pizza as the oven had not yet been rebuilt.

We have purchased wine from the family for quite a few years now after an introduction by Gianni, a character who owns one or two of the many wine shops in Barolo. Aside from their highly rated range of single vineyard Barolo, we were also initially impressed by the quality and price of their Chardonnay, which was not a grape we had expected to find in this area. Their Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo are all very approachable wines and excellent examples of their respective grapes.

This time Federica, whose delightful baby, Gregorio, is now six months old, told us the wood fired pizza oven was already being heated in anticipation of our arrival, so we hastened our way through the rain, down the little roads. Wow! Their new additions are very attractive as well as being functional, complete with a wine tasting room and lovely kitchen where the wood fired oven is located so they can cater to family, friends and clients. Federica gave us the short tour (they are a small winery), ably assisted by the enthusiastic four year old Tommaso, who is her brother Maurizio's child and his little dog, Jimmy. Maurizio was still out in the rain tending to the vines.

The views just outside the new building are the beautiful, rolling, restful views, you could almost start to take for granted in Piedmont. You can understand why some of the locals never feel the desire to leave the region. We enjoyed a refreshing glass of Chardonnay, whilst Caterina took charge of the teething Gregorio, and Federica took over the rolling of the homemade pizza dough making more than enough pizzas for us all to enjoy over the 2003 Mosconi Barolo, Gianni, her father, arrived at the table with Maurizio and his partner Illaria joined us and we enjoyed a delightful evening with the family.



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