We kicked off this year’s tastings with a visit to Piedmont at the Teddington wine society. This is a favourite wine area of mine and while the region is famous for Barolo and Barbaresco there is a wealth of other fascinating wines to be discovered. About an hour east of the lovely town of Alba you find the well-known wines of Gavi and we tasted the delicious and aromatic La Lugarara Gavi di Gavi made from the lesser known Cortese grape. We then moved on to the relatively rare Arneis grape from Deltetto. Arneis is known as ‘the little rascal’ because historically it was an awkward grape to grow. Winemakers have rediscovered this variety and have tamed its idiosyncrasies. Progressing on to the reds, we tasted a trio of wines from the highly esteemed Vajra estate situated in Barolo. First up was the delightfully fruity Dolcetto, A much underrated variety that was full of vibrant fruit and soft delicate tannins. Their Barbera d’Alba was more full-bodied yet retained a charm and elegance combined with superb ripe, earthy fruit. The two Barolos were a fascinating revelation. The Le Albe 2011 from Vajra was full of charm and elegance as well as the characteristic gamey undertones, while the Barolo Parussi 2008 from Massolino was much more structured, full-bodied and clearly needed a lot more time in the cellar. We finished off with a long time favourite of mine – the Bracchetto d’Acqui from Contero. This is a 5.5% lightly sparkling wine from the famous town of Strevi. Vibrant and fresh this was the perfect accompaniment to a little piece of chocolate brownie.