For those new to the Grasso Barolo’s, these are wines that combine the best aspects of both traditional and contemporary Barolo winemaking. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel, with extended skin contact (the 2016’s spent a whopping 60 days on skins), after which the wine is transferred to large 2500L Slavonian Oak casks. The resulting wines are pure, aromatic and faithfully represent their vineyards.
The Grasso’s are proud farmers, and a lot of work is spent in the vineyards which are effectively farmed organically (without certification). Their winery is located mere metres from their famous Barolo vineyards in Ginestra, a highly advantageous feature for quality. Since Grasso's first vintage in 1978 a fair bit has changed in Barolo, so some light needs to be shed on the labelling of the various wines.
Both Barolo's from Grasso are sourced from the Ginestra MGA (an MGA is the official outline or border of the vineyard) - but that doesn't give us much indication of the differences between the two wines until we dig a little further. While many of the subregions of the Barolo commune have been highlighting the differences in their smaller terroir, in Monforte the opposite has occurred, presumably for simplicity and recognisability on the labels. Larger vineyard designations have engulfed smaller, more boutique terroir, such as the example of Bussia MGA being the overarching name containing the famous Colonnello, Cicala and Romirasco vineyards of A. Conterno, which do not appear on the MGA map. The same is true for Ginestra, which has gobbled up famous names such as Gavarini, which lies on a distinctly different ridge to the original Ginestra. Therefore, the names on the Elio Grasso bottles, and what it means for the consumer, are as follows.
- Elio Grasso Barolo “Ginestra (pertaining to the original Ginestra vineyard) Casa Mate (sub-plot of Ginestra)” - Casa Mate is lower altitude than Chiniera, and has higher clay content, so this is the fuller, deeper and richer of the two.
- Elio Grasso Barolo “Gavarini (Gavarini is the original vineyard, gobbled up by the Ginestra MGA) Chiniera (sub-plot of Gavarini)” - Chiniera is higher altitude and on leaner, sandier soils, producing a straighter and more classically austere Barolo.
So despite the fact both Barolo vineyards are very close together, they are distinctly different wines. In my experience, followers of the Grasso estate recommend purchasing the two estate Barolo’s Casa Mate and Chiniera in equal volumes, but of course there is no requisite to do so.
**Please feel free to place your ideal order for all of the wines below
// The incredible Grasso Barolo's are due to arrive instore mid-May 2020
The 2016 Barolo Vintage
"Two thousand sixteen is a classic, late-ripening year characterised by a leisurely October harvest and no real shock events to speak of... In tasting, what stands out most about the 2016s is their extraordinary balance and harmony. Independently of what the numbers show on paper, in vintages like 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2014, the perception of acidity and tannin is higher, because those attributes are prominent. But in 2016, especially among the best wines, nothing really stands out because they are so impeccably balanced. So many of the entry-level bottlings are fabulous, always a sign of an important vintage. Lastly, the 2016s are incredibly expressive of site, which is one of the most fundamental qualitative attributes shared by all great Piedmont vintages.” - Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com
"Elio Grasso’s 2016s are some of the most reticent wines I tasted. I would have to go back pretty far to find another vintage in which the wines are so taut and piercing in the early going. Gianluca Grasso gave his 2016s a whopping 60 days on the skins. As always, the wines are aged in cask, the exception being the Rüncot, which is aged in French oak. Readers will have to be especially patient with the 2016s." - Antonio Galloni
2016 Elio Grasso Barolo “Gavarini Chiniera" - $205 per bottle BUY NOW
The 2016 Barolo Gavarini Chiniera is a vibrant, massively tannic, austere wine, the likes of which I have never tasted here before. Vertical and explosive in the glass with tons of pure power, the 2016 Gavarini Chiniera is a gorgeous Barolo that is going to need a number of years to be at its best. Swaths of tannin wrap around a core of sweet red cherry fruit. White pepper, mint, orange peel and floral notes develop a bit later, but the 2016 remains reticent and inward, with brilliant acids and tannins that dominate today. The 2016 is a striking wine, but it is going to require considerable patience. - 96+ Points, Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com ; Drink 2024+
2016 Elio Grasso Barolo "Ginestra Casa Mate" - $205 per bottle BUY NOW
"Ample and creamy on the palate, with tremendous depth, the 2016 Barolo Ginestra Casa Matè is super impressive, even in the early going. Next to the Gavarini Chiniera, the Ginestra Casa Matè is a Barolo of textural resonance and volume. Black cherry, plum and a range of balsamic notes infuse the 2016 with tons of character. The is one of the real standouts of the year." - 97 Points, Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com ; Drink 2024+