This turned out to be a rather special day. We planned to take the towns of Bra, Saluzzo and then make our way to Torino, but didn’t make it to either towns. Instead, we found Pollenzo. And in Pollenzo, we discovered the “Banca del Vino” on the beautiful grounds of the Agenzia di Pollenzo.
This structure was once the country estate of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy, King of Piedmonte and Sardenia, and before him the Conte of Pollenzo has his castle. And before the Conte it was once the Roman city of Pollentia, with the ruins of part of it still visible on the property. In the late 1990s the property in ruins, however it was restored thanks to the Slow Food movement and its many partners, creating a university, (University of Gastronomic Sciences) which offers a three-year diploma in the gastronomic sciences. Today, the buildings are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The property is beautiful; a square structure with two towers on the back facade, a central courtyard and is surrounded by gardens. There is also a hotel and restaurant on the property, as well as the Wine Bank.
The Banca del Vino is an amazing storage center situated in the historical cellars of the Agenzia di Pollenzo, established to preserve the best wines of Italy. At the same time it is also a museum of wines, offering visitors the chance to both discover and taste the wines some of Italy’s most prestigious wineries. The Banca is in the cellars of the Agenzia, which provides over 2,000 sq. meters of storage space for more than 100,000 bottles of wine belonging to more than 300 Italian wine producers. For just two euros you can browse through the Bank. Each selection of wines is labelled with a sample bottle on display and a description of the winery. And if you see any wine that you like, you can buy some, as long is it doesn’t drop below established inventory levels they want to keep of each wine. Courses and seminars are also available to take at the Bank.
They gave us directions for Delletto winery, as we’d had a bottle of their wine for dinner the night before and very much enjoyed it. We travelled from Pollenzo up to Canale, through terrain similar to that around Alba; rolling hills with castles and chateaus and small villages perched on the hilltops. On the hillsides are the vineyards, and this is serious wine country. In Canele we visited Delletto and although it was closed when we arrived, the owner came to the door and invited us in. He took us into a tasting room, consisting of a long wooden table with wine bottles upon it. Another gentleman from Berkley was there, a wine buyer, who was doing business with the owner. We joined them and tried their Pinot Noir, Noehro, wines. Coming from France we skipped on the Pinot Noir but loved their reds. And then he brought out his sparkling wine; a Brut, an extra Brut and a Rose. Wonderful, we left with twelve bottles of champagne and six of their red! What a setting, drinking with the owner of the estate, who talked about the origin of the vineyard of the family just after the war, his trips to Canada and how well his sparkling champagne has been doing and how he came up with the idea. A wonderful afternoon.
On the way to Canale we stopped in Vezza d’Alba at a wine cooperative and picked up 12 bottles of Barbera d’Albi Superior. We then stopped in the village of Canale for a quick lunch and then headed up to Turin. A great afternoon.