Following the Wine Route of the Tortona Hills, or Strada del Vino dei Colli Tortonesi, is the perfect way to discover not just the Doc Colli Tortonesi wines of this zone between Tortona and Voghera but fabulous typical products such as mushrooms, strawberries, cheese, salami and truffles. In fact, it is the only part of Piemonte which produces three types of truffles: white, black and 'summer' or Tuber Aestivum Vittadini.
The wine route was established in the early 1970's to take in the hamlets of Tortona, Viguzzolo, Castellar Guidobono, Volpedo, Volpeglino, Berzano di Tortona, Pozzol Groppo, Monleale, Monperone, Casasco, Brigano Frascata, Sarezzano, Cerreto Grue, Spineto Scrivia, Montemarzino, Avolasca, Montegioco, Carbonara Scrivia, Costa Vescovato, Paterna, Villaromagnano, S. Agata Fossili, Villalvernia, Cassano Spinola, Gavazzana, Castellania, Carezzano, Stazzano, Sardigliano and Casalnoceto.
The initial aim was to provide recognition for specific wines under the banner 'Colli Tortonesi', in particular the Barbera, Cortese and Cortese spumante naturale.
The Cortese grape is indigenous to the province of Alessandria and was once commonly known as 'courteisa' or 'courteis'. It is particularly suited to the temperate microclimate of the summit of the Tortonesi hills which enjoys a lot of light and little wind.
Consider a bottle of Colli Tortonesi Cortese with an antipasti, pasta or fresh fish dish. It is also a wine which can accompany white meats in sauces and risotti cooked in the same wine.
In 2005, additional wines were brought under the DOC Colli Tortonesi protection. Among them look out for the barbera superiore, dolcetto, croatina, chiaretto, moscato bianco and timorasso. There is also a sub zone categorised as “Colli Tortonesi Monleale”.
The typical cheese of the territory is Montebore which has been produced in the Val Curone since ancient times. Montebore is a small hamlet of the comune of Dernice, between the valleys of Grue and Borbera, which may have been the location of a Saracen lookout tower.
The cheese can be made from either cow or sheep's milk and is recognisable by its sort of cone step shape similar to the form of the pyramid of Saqqara in Egypt. It is, in fact, known as the little castle or 'Il Castellino".
This is fine cycling country and two recommended routes can be followed. Not convinced, then legendary cyclist Fausto Coppi was born here, in Castellania in 1919. One route actually starts from his very home, Casa Coppi.
Finish your day with a meal at the restaurant of Hotel Villa Liberty in Pontecurone.