As I was sitting in the tasting room at Rizzi, perched on a panoramic hilltop in Treiso, I looked around the table and thought to myself that this was one of those rare moments of “pure happiness”. I had an exceptional glass of Barbaresco in my hand, the weather had miraculously cleared up despite the forecasts, and I was in the company of my husband, one of my best friends from San Francisco and her husband. The room was full of laughter and smiles and Britta and I were feeling giddy!

Gavin, Britta and I mesmerized!
The day hadn’t started out so smoothly though. We left late, had to get gas, took the wrong turnoffs and got lost in the thick of the vineyards. Thankfully, Enrico the winemaker, actually spotted us from the other side of the hill and patiently lead us back in the right direction! It was already 12 o’clock and our lunch reservation was at 1. Like always in Italy, eating times must be carefully respected and we were told to be at the trattoria 1:30 at the latest. Short wine tasting I suppose…
As soon as we stepped out of the VW beetle, the stress flew away. The family was all outside talking in their garden, overlooking the rolling hills below. Britta and I swooned over Enrico as he showed us into the tasting room and let us try his experimental sparkling wines both Extra Brut and Pas Dosè (without added sugar), Chardonnay and the “cloudy” unfiltered version called Sterbu all fermented in stainless steel. Our mouths watered from the fresh white wines but even more from the smell of Enrico’s mamma’s onions drifting down the staircase. Brilliantly, Enrico suggested that we go eat and come back to finish our tasting of the reds. Good thing I didn’t make any other appointments!
We dined for about two hours in town at the local trattoria Il Risorgimento and made our way back to Rizzi with full happy stomachs. He kindly welcomed us back and we started right from where we left off. Dolcetto, Barbera, and then the multiple Barbarescos. We got to taste 4 different types of Barbarescos vinified in the same way (aged in oak barrels, cement and stainless) but from different crus. First we started with the vintage 2008 and compared notes on the Rizzi, Nervo Fondetta, Pajore, and Boito. From there we got to compare all the same crus all over again from 2007! The whole line were focused, well balanced with both great tannic structure and delicate sweetness and finesse. Some of the wines, particularly the 2007 Pajore reminded us of juicy black cherries and pomegranates with lots of spices including cinnamon.
The best part came at the end when it was nearly 5 pm already and Enrico’s father came down. He reminded me of some sort of Elmer Fudd cartoon character, boisterous, self-confident, and full of energy.  Ernesto, sat down and shot the breeze with us, asked us about our stories and told us his. Just like in any normal family, father and son started rolling eyes and shouting across the room at each other, making us feel at home with them. I guess this would make sense since we had literally been there ALL day! 
The last Barbaresco we tasted was father Ernesto’s favorite, a 2006 Boito, masculine, muscular, elegant with longevity just like him. Perhaps it was Ernesto’s enthusiasm and conviction about this wine, but it was the one that wowed me! This bottled perfection came from select grapes from the top “Bricco Boito” within the Rizzi Cru.
You could tell things were starting to get out of hand when kisses and hugs were being exchanged, Rizzi’s delicious late harvest Frimaio and grappa started being poured, and Britta and I started doing yoga. Enrico even started hand painting the labels just for our Sterbu, like he does for all the non-Barbaresco labels. Unfortunately, Ernesto had to go to 6 o’clock mass and it was time for us to go. An experience like this is unforgettable and a reminder why trying to pack in too much on winery visits isn’t always wise. There was no place that I would have rather been!
Via Rizzi 15
Barbaresco, CN
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