26 April 2021
Among the Piedmont hills declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and, more precisely, in La Morra, stands the Palás Cerequio resort, an accommodation facility nestled in the rows of one of the most noble crus in Barolo.
Owned by the historical Michele Chiarlo winery, it is indeed the “Temple of Barolo”. Its walls recount the most symbolic crus of the denomination through the works of Giancarlo Ferraris, creator of the most remarkable Chiarlo labels. Next to the paintings are cases displaying lumps of earth from where the miracle of Barolo begins, showing guests the differences and peculiarities of the area's lands. And, like all temples, Palás has its own sanctum sanctorum: a Caveau containing an impressive collection of over 6,000 bottles and preserving precious documents, like the celebrated viticultural and oenological Monograph of the province of Cuneo, a volume written by Lorenzo Fantini in 1879.
THE FLAVOR OF PIEDMONT
Do not be fooled by the name (Palás means “noble palace” in Piedmontese dialect) and the value of its “contents”. This place is vibrant and fresh, where the best of Piedmontese tradition meets the contemporary, and it offers a full immersion into the captivating “flavor” of Piedmont. In fact, the great Barolos in the Caveau are served with dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Damiano Nigro. He and his wife Elena arrived in the new kitchens of the resort at the beginning of 2021 to rediscover their new identity after working for fourteen years at Villa d’Amelia.
Chef Nigro has a new location, but the philosophy of his art has not changed: it is still founded on the pursuit of quality that can be attained by thoroughly refining the “technique”, yet still remaining faithful to tradition.
Born from the stars
Originally from Brindisi, Damiano arrived in Piedmont thanks to Enrico Crippa, for whom he worked as a Sous Chef. In his journey, he encountered other “stars” like Gualtiero Marchesi, Marco Pierre White, Alain Ducasse and Alain Soliveres, who shaped his skill and style.
His style is creative, innovative and classic at the same time. As proven by his Vitello Tonnato 2007, winner of the 2008 “Top di domani” Ruota d’Oro; “La Finanziera secondo me…”, a reinterpretation of a classic Langa dish; or his Roasted octopus with citrus sauce and vegetable tempura, considered as a “fusion” manifesto. Damiano Nigro believes that when a guest arrives at the restaurant, he must already be aware of where he is and how the dishes will be like. It’s a bit like opening a bottle of an excellent wine: one prepares accordingly, knowing that the experience will definitely be extraordinary.
Speaking of great pairings, choosing Palás could have not been more fitting. Michele Chiarlo is an esteemed name in Piedmont: known as the winery that has firmly believed and invested in the Barbera grape, Michele Chiarlo has helped in popularizing this variety and giving it its rightful value. The winery has also helped the Nizza Docg, the “super Barbera” of Monferrato”, attain proper recognition.
The history of Michele Chiarlo and Piedmont wine lay inside Palás Cerequio’s Caveau: over half a century of Barolo vintages from the most prestigious crus, from 1958 until present, are meticulously preserved, creating a unique collection. Here, you can find exceptional bottles: Brunate, Bussia, Cannubi, Cerequio, Ginestra, Arborina, Rocche di Castiglione, Vigna Rionda, Villero and many others. The wines can be tasted upon reservation, even at Damiano Nigro’s restaurant: the unique chance to taste extremely rare labels that are perfectly preserved, with some even more than fifty years old.