The best red wines to sip under Monte Rosa and where to drink them

Aprés-ski (After ski drinks)and aperitifsat Alagna; a vademecum

Let’s start with the basics: after ski drinks in Alagna is not like what you would have in Milan; it is not an aperitif with a light buffet and no dinner! You will still have your evening meal, so don’t wear yourself out. Alagna is Walser land, our world revolves around local cheeses and cured meats, DeCo and km0; the food is truly delicious, but if you overdo it you will have to go on a diet when you go back home. Our advice is: drink but keep some space for dinner. You will find the best red wines cultivated in Alagna in Upper Piedmont.

After ski and aperitifs: where to go

Zam Tachi is the place to go if you want an aperitif with a Walser twist. Ely will prepare a mega platter filled with deco products and potato chipsfrom Otro (only on order).A platter like this can only be enjoyed with the best red wine; try it with Ghemme Torraccia of Piantavigna, an elegant and complex wine, renowned for its rich tones, structure, and aromas. If you prefer more spicy tones, you can try an Orbello, Coste della Sesia from the Cellar Sella– a mix of Barbera, Nebbiolo and Vespolina grapes, with a luminous ruby colour, and a fresh and crispy taste!

Zam Tachi has a very suggestive atmosphere, and you are guaranteed to enjoy your aperitif far from the general crowd. It is situated on the meadows on the other side of the river Sesia and is the ideal location if you have children.
At Mario’s bar, aperitifs are served at noon in the romantic square of Riva, nestled in a corner kissed by the sun that filters through the Vogna Valley, with a priceless view of Monte Rosa. If you are passionate about cocktails look no further, this is the right bar! At Mario’s,a gin and tonic is never ordinary and you can choose from 60 different types of gin! The Negroni is made to perfection; if you have a particular cocktail in mind, Mario will prepare it exactly as you want it and if you woke up in a “Carrie Bradshaw mood” you can always order a Cosmopolitan.

Romantic aperitifs are served at Montagna di Luce, located in the hamlet of Pedemonte. The view from its beautiful outdoor area overlooks the high-lying hamlets of Alagna. The setting is elegantly refined but rustic and promises an intimate dinner experience. Giona Barinotti, the family sommelier, told us in confidence that according to him the best aperitif wine with miacce (the typical aperitif served in Alagna) is Barbera. He has the wine Bricco dell’Uccellone di Braida in his restaurant which is without a doubt one of my favourites: it has an intense ruby colour, rich complex aroma, a remarkable concentration, yet soft and classy. Your hostess Silvia, on the other hand, would suggest Cipressi Nizza of Michele Chiarlo, which is softer, rounder and more fruity, with hints of red fruits, ripe cherry, raspberry and sweet notes of tobacco.

An Bacher Wi (a glass of wine in German Walser), is a historic bar in the town centre and is the cult pub for those looking for a classy setting, soft music and in the mood for some experimentation. The list of cocktails has been tailored to tickle your fancy: Tulum, Daiquiri, magical forest, Wild River and Love Supreme are the top five on the menu. But our favourite is the Alagna Collins (no, I’m not a spoiler, and I will not give explanations, go to Bacher Wi, and get back to me).

The restaurant’s wine list includes wine from all over Italy but here aperitifs are made with Gattinara Molsino Conterno di Nervi and Gattinara Travaglini, because as Nietzsche says “the loss of the Dionysian spirit is at the origin of the decadence of the Western world” and at Bacher Wi, this is aknowledged, in their suggestion to do it with style.

At Chäisscheri the atmosphere is vibrant and young, and the girls are beautiful. This is where you drink your Spritz. We asked the owner Nancy the reason why. And this is her reply: I like it, my girls like it… and all our customers do too! Here aperitiftime begins at 4 pm with the first skiers returning from the slopes. This is the perfect place to stop after the last descent if you still have your ski boots on your feet, an unquenchable thirst, and a desire to warm up after a day in the snow.

The pub of the moment is Miacceria. Paolo and Elodie are courteous and always smiling, and extremely attentive to quality, so much so, they know how to surprise with a super-complete list of Zam Steg beers, whiskeys, gins and high-level rums. Tease your tastebuds with a plate of miacce di Alagna with toma cheese and saleggia (wild thyme collected in the mountain pastures above 1600 m), focaccia and cured meats. In Miacceria the vibe is pleasant, and the music is light; behind the bar counter they just know how to amaze you time after time.

But what if you are in the mood for some wine and you are uncertain which to choose, here is some advice from Daniele Baglione, deputy mayor of Gattinara, on finding out more about the best red wines of the area. Read what he told us:

Like a precious treasure chest, Upper Piedmont containsan extraordinary civilization heritage of many small, very important and diverse realities, all nestled in a small space.In a territory, not very extensive at all, where first a Supervolcano and then the glacial era shaped the land, establishing a diversified and complex geomorphological evolution, which contributed to creating the extraordinary uniqueness of the Upper Piedmont territory.

The deposits left by the ice and the alluvial washout of Monte Rosa formed the gentle morainic hills between the pre-Alpine area and the plains.

On the hills of Upper Piedmont, the cultivation of wine has remote origins, as evidenced by the discovery of grape seeds as far back asthe prehistoric era and after that, from the Roman era. The rich archaeological material found testifies how primitive populations settled here, and the gradual occupation of successive populations of the Gauls, the Romans and the Lombards.

The cultivation of vines has always been a constant activity in Upper Piedmont, where, as from Roman times to the late ancient period, up to the Middle Ages, vineyards continued to growno doubt, thanks to the favourable climatic and soil conditions.With ups and downs, viticulture in thisterritory has never stopped.

Here, in this section of the territory,the plantations of cultivated vineyards were no less extensive and no less important than that of the Langhe region at the beginning of the last century. This is where numerous realities of great importance were developed, and the unifying element is undoubtedly the wine.

Upper Piedmont has a variety of soil that, depending on the production area, provideunique wines with particular characteristics. So, in a somewhat poetic manner, we have decided to divide the wines of this extraordinary territory into four categories: wines born from fire (Gattinara, Boca, Bramaterra and Coste della Sesia), wines born from the sea (Lessona, Bramaterraand Coste della Sesia), wines emersedby water (Ghemme, Sizzano, Fara and Colline Novaresi), and wines shaped by the glacier (Valli Ossolane, Colline Novaresi).

The characteristic feature of this territory are the hills, and thisis the environment that provides the greatest variety of landscapes, where from up above, breathtaking views of the plains open up before you, with a backdrop of the mountains and the Monte Rosa massif.

The wines of Upper Piedmont are the prestigious DOCGs: Gattinara and Ghemme and the DOCs: Lessona, Boca, Bramaterra, Fara, Sizzano, the Ossola Valleys, Novara Hills and Coste della Sesia; all these wines lend themselves well to ageing. But there are also interesting “novelties” for these areas: young wines, white, rosé, and sparkling wines, as well as interesting, rediscovered varieties, such as Vespolina and Bonarda. The Nebbiolo vine is however the undisputed king and confirms the fact that wines born from the Nebbiolo grape have great structure and longevity.

When you taste the wines of upper Piedmont, you will beable to understand their complexity and appreciate the varied richness, a collection of sumptuous and intriguing wines, mineral and powerful, round, and elegant. The traditional dishes of Northern Piedmont are an excellent combination with these wines.

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