I have arrived in the Langhe on an educational tour sponsored by the group Piemonte Land of Perfection, as well as various wine-related consorzi. I am immediately mesmerized by the beauty of Alba, the town in which we are staying for a few days while we tour some wineries.
And, like and good wine geek, I am also captivated by a local Amaro called San Simone.
Thanks to two of my travelling companions, Ted Glennon and Kevin Vogt, I was introduced to the supple, beautiful, Amaro San Simone yesterday afternoon. Just about the perfect way to take the edge off a 14 hour flight followed by some unfortunate lost luggage and a sketchy bus ride into town. Kevin and Ted, gentlemen that they are, escorted me to a local wine bar where they had already found this beautiful product, traditional from neighboring Torino.
Amaro San Simone is dark and rich, with the weight of Averna and none of its aggressive bite. San Simone has a cherry-cola quality, a depth of sweetness perhaps best defined by notes of molasses and treacle, and a pleasant, herbal finish, just bitter enough to take the edge off all that sticky nectar. The recipe for this product can be traced back to an order of monks from the 16th century. This amaro, like many others, was originally intended as a tonic to sooth all kinds of ailments. Concocted from a blend of local herbs, spices and roots, the monks believed it had all kinds of curative powers. I don’t disagree!
The proprietor of the wine bar suggested Amaro San Simone over ice, which prompted a mini-Italian- basically two terms completely useful for any drinker in Italy. “Over ice” would be “sul ghiaccio” (sool gee-ah-cho), while “neat” is “liscio” (lee-sho).
Amaro-hunting in Alba is proving to be a successful, and educational, venture.