al Castello di Alessandro Boglione
Via Castello, 5
2060 Grinzane Cavour (CN)
Tel. +39 0173/262172
with Osso Buco Ragù, Puréed Celery and Salmoriglio
in the Castello di Grinzane Cavour, Alessandro Boglione’s Ristorante al
Castello is one of the prettiest dining rooms in Piedmont. The menu is steeped
in the classics, with a few innovative touches.
has a lot to offer the tourist, including world-class wines, fabulous food and
picturesque hillside towns. But one thing the region lacks is sights that might
appeal to the visitor interested in more than just food and wine, something
other regions like Tuscany offer in abundance. The Castello di Grinzane Cavour is
steeped in history. The castle is most famous for being the residence of Count
Camillo Benso di Cavour, Italy’s first Prime Minister and a central figure of the
unification of Italy. Today, the castle houses the Enoteca Regionale Piemontese
(the first of its kind), two museums, a café, and the more formal dining room that
has been run by Chef Alessandro Boglione for about the last five years.
exposed brick walls and spacious tables create a feeling of intimacy and warmth
at the same time. Boglione’s menu offers the classics along with a set of more
creative, innovative dishes. When I am in Piedmont, though, I usually crave the
local specialties. This simple, informal lunch is superb. The Vitello Tonnato
is tasty, although my personal preference is for the veal to be cooked a little
less. The crunchy, fried capers contrast the creaminess of the tuna sauce
nicely. Boglione’s paccheri with Osso Buco ragù is a big hit. This is classic,
stick-to-your-ribs winter food at its best. The paccheri are cooked perfectly al dente, while the Osso Buco is
wonderfully creamy and textured. One of the things I love most about the
Piedmontese kitchen is the way the classic dishes act as perfect canvases for
the region's wines. When the food and wine are both on in Piedmont, well, there
aren’t too many things that can compete.
1981 Le Pergole Torte is simply stunning,
especially considering its age. Sweet, layered and impeccable, the 1981 graces
the palate with an exotic mélange of licorice, smoke, herbs and dark red stone
fruits. I love the way the 1981 opens up in the glass. What a gorgeous wine!
Mascarello’s 1979 Barolo Vigna Rionda
is a historical curiosity. In 1979, Bruno Giacosa thought the Rionda fruit was
too expensive, so he passed. Mauro Mascarello bought the grapes instead. When
he vinified the fruit, Mascarello was alarmed by how little color the wine had.
The following year, 1980, in what has turned out to be a vintage with some
positive surprises, Mascarello had the first shot at the fruit, but he wasn’t
thrilled with his 1979, so he let the fruit go. The rest, as they say is
history. Bruno Giacosa went on to make some of his greatest wines from these
grapes. Today, Mascarello’s 1979 Barolo Vigna Rionda remains dark, imposing and
tannic. It’s hard to know how significant the vintage influence is with just
one wine, but the Mascarello Rionda presents a distinctly masculine, virile
side of Rionda. Dark cherry, plum, smoke, tobacco and dried roses inform the
finish. The 1979 should continue to age well for years, although there isn’t
much if any upside in keeping bottles.
Paccheri with Osso Buco Ragù, Puréed
Celery and Salmoriglio
a thrill it is to see Bruno Giacosa’s 1964
Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano on the table. Wow. This is Bruno Giacosa’s
first formally declared single-vineyard wine. Just 1,240 bottles produced. I
have had the 1964 many times, but now, at 50 years of age, it may be time to
accept that the wine is fully mature. Still sweet, layered and perfumed, the
1964 is fresher on the palate than in the bouquet. It’s still a wonderful
bottle, but not the best example I have had. It happens.
this was a quick lunch, as I had a number of appointments in the afternoon, but
I am looking forward to spending more time at the Ristorante al Castello. Chef
Alessandro Boglione, who makes a point of greeting all his guests, has created
a warm, welcoming environment that at its essence represents what hospitality
is all about.