Barolo Chinato

There’s always a moment of trepidation when my issue of Tastes of Italia arrives in the mail. I open it up to see what they’ve done to my article. Sometimes they take a great photo and crop it in the most ridiculous way, cutting out all the context (like a favorite shot I took of Steve Mathiasson in front of his old barn and vineyards; they eliminated both), or else they might take something meant to be a quarter-page detail and blow it up into a fuzzy two-page spread. Sometimes they add their own photo which might be completely inappropriate, like the opening spread for a recent Chianti article that had a white wine on the table. White! For Chianti! Don’t they know? It’s humiliating.

But this time they got it right. For the 2016 winter issue, I wrote a story on BAROLO CHINATO, one of the classiest digestives you’ll find in Italy, and a perennial favorite of mine. I interviewed Augusto Cappellano and Roberto Bava, whose CAPPELLANO and COCCHI wineries originated this spice-, herb- and quinine-infused wine back in the 1800s. I also talked to Aldo Vaira (G.D. VAJRA) and Vittore Alessandria (FRATELLI ALESSANDRIA), who make miniscule quantities and represent the new breed of Barolo Chinato producer.

The issue is now on newsstands and at Barnes & Noble. Or you can download the PDF or read the text here.

I like my article, but I’m particularly pleased that they used the photos I'm most fond of. The bottle shot (above) was one I’d risked life and limb for, parking my car on a hairpin turn on the road from La Morra to Barolo and putting the bottles on the roof of the car, then trying to dodge the trollies whizzing down the hill as I angled to frame it properly.

And I particularly love my portrait of Augusto Cappellano. I told him he looked like the Coen brothers, which pleased him enormously. For this shot, I asked him to take the sepia photo of his great uncle (and Barolo Chinato inventor) off the office wall and bring it into the fermentation room. That must have been the first time it was removed since, well, forever, because the frame fell apart in his hands. But we managed to get this great shot.

Oh, and the wine: Barolo Chinato is the perfect wine for the holiday season, being loaded with baking spices like clove, cinnamon, and cardamom. Give it a try with your fruitcake, plum pudding, or Christmas cookies. You’ll be glad you did.