Barolo Tour 2011 - Elio Grasso
For the first time ever, Vinhulen.dk was to visit Elio Grasso in the small town of Monforte d'Alba in the Barolo area in november 2011.
This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful estates in the entire Barolo area. Everywhere you look things are organized perfectly and not a sign of dirt or misplaced items. But the kick is the cellar - more later....
The visit at Elio Grasso was our 4th visit that day. One should think that we would be tired after all these wines during the day, but the kindness of Marina and Elio Grasso makes you fully alive and with a feeling of beeing welcome at the estate.
To give you a picture of the perfectly organised estate, just have a look at the picture to the left. It's like a painting - beautiful surroundings just outside the mail intrance.
First we offer you some facts about Elio Grasso. Elio Grasso and his wife Marina manage the estate together with their son Gianluca and the wine technician Piero Ballario. All in all Grasso have 14 hectares of vineyards, and they use only estate grown grapes for the range of wines.
The history in fact started in the early 1980s where the family decided to to back to their origins and become grape producers and only that. Before that the first decision from 1978 was to vinify and bottle separately grapes from their various vineyards. The family wanted to find out, if they could find their space in a market full of good producers, and the history tells us that they could....
The Grasso family started by replanting the Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto grapes. In 1986 the dicision to add a small plot i Chardonnay grapes followed, and today the family produce around 70.000 bottles of wine a year, which still enables them to round the estate as a family business.
The newest features is a truly amazing cellar - state of the art. Simply the most beautiful cellar in all of the Barolo area. You can see the cellar in the picture to the right.
The cellar is carved out under the estate by the same machine that made the Mont Blanc tunnel. This is one of the most amazing things, we have ever seen on our trips to different wine areas during the years. Stunning is the right and only word for this brilliant piece of work.
The cellar is circular and houses all the wines in different vintages, private stock, tecnical equipment among other things. Everything was explaned in details to us by Piero Ballario.
The range of wines from Elio Grasso is:
100% Chardonnay from the Garavini vineyard. 7.000 bottles produced every year. First vintage was 1990.
Barbera d'Alba Vigna Martina
100% Barbera. 12.000 bottles produced every year. First vintage 1988.
Dolcetto d'Alba dei Grassi
100% Dolcetto. 7.000 bottles produced every year. First vintage 1980.
100% Nebbiolo. 6.500 bottles produced every year. First vintage 1987.
100% Nebbiolo. 7.000 bottles produced every year. First vintage 1995. only produced in good vintages.
Barolo Gavarini Vigna Chiniera
100% Nebbiolo. 14.000 bottles produced every year. First vintage 1978.
Barolo Ginestra Vigna Casa Matè
100% Nebbiolo. 14.000 bottles produced every year. First vintage 1978.
As you can see, it's a fairly small production - like most of the Barolo producers. most are run by family. Perhaps one of the significant reasons for this areas enormous popularity worldwide.
While we were touring the beautiful cellar we were talking about this massive construction. No wonder the wines are so expensive :-) It has taken a lot of effort and money to build this unique place in Monforte d'Alba. The Grasso family must be proud.
Safely back from the cellar it was time to do some wine tasting together with Elio and Marina.
Now the family feeling became even more obvious. Elio and Marina have been married for many, many years. Elio has this teasing look in his eyes while he makes jokes with Marina all the time. We think she is used to it after all these years, but it is very funny and very sensitive so that nobody is offended. It was obvious that they like eachother.
Elio quickly found out that Anders B. speaks Italian and they instantly became friends in that second. It is ofcourse a lot easier to communicate in your own language. The rest of us had a great time talking to Marina while we were being served the following wines:
Dolcetto d'Alba dei Grassi 2010, Elio Grasso
Langhe Nebbiolo 2010, Elio Grasso
Barbera d'Alba Vigna Martina 2008, Elio Grasso
Barolo Gavarini Chiniera 2007, Elio Grasso
Barolo Ginestra Casa Maté 2007, Elio Grasso
You can see the wines in the picture to the left...
Wine tasting is always serious business :-)
There is a lot to ask the producer about - technical stuff, vineyards, attitude, position to the sun etc. It is a lot easier, when you are together with nice people like Elio and Marina. They have reached the age, where you can see and feel their passion and love for wine and the passion for telling the story about their wines to visitors - even if it's 6 o'clock in the evening after a long days work.
We have this "trick" on Vinhulen.dk. We can talk and taste at the same time without spitting the precious drops of gold on the cloth. It take skills :-)
To the right you can see Frank and Anders J. highly concentrated doing the job...
This late afternoon became even better, when Marina after a short period returned to the tasting with salami and cheese to accompany the wines. Excellent cheese and salami. It went very well to the wines. We have to say, that details matter! We each had our own little metal container to spitt into while tasting the wines. It's so nice, when you don't have to pass it along to others. Often 3 og 4 persons taste at the same time - it creates problems instantly.
After the tasting it was time for the group foto - the Grasso's and Vinhulen.dk.
I can still remember Elio joking about, that he and the wife could cut the picture into shape and use it as invitation for their wedding anniversary in 2012 (I think). You have my permission Elio :-)
On the way out Elio and Marina presented us with a gift - a nice bottle of Barolo Casa Maté for drinking later that evening. It took some time to find the bottle. Piero Ballario went to the cellar to find it. Elio and Anders B. had the opportunity to speak a little more Italian, and I understood, that Anders was welcome at any time, so he and Elio could talk about "things that matters" in Italian. All the time Elio was smiling but at the end he added that the rest of us were welcome too.
This was one of the nicest visits on the 2011 Barolo Tour. Truely kind and nice people - Elio and Marina. It's almost visible in the picture. We will be very happy to return to visit, when we go to Barolo in 2012.
When I look back upon this visit, it hits me instantly that this is the cleanest and most well organised estate in the entire area. Not a spot of dust, not a finger on the glasses, no tools in the cellar, not a single straw to the wrong side on the lawn ect. Just to give you an impression of how it is, I ask you to feast your eyes on the first picture in the article with the tree in focus beside the well. Who cuts this beauty? Who takes care of that the grass is still perfectly cut and green in november?? It's amazing.
We leave you with a picture of the beautiful view from the estate. As you can see, it was evening, dark and time we went home to have a nice evening with the usual 8 course meal at a local restaurant. This was a beautiful end to a very long and rich day of impressions....
The wines of Elio Grasso is imported to Denmark by Jysk Vin, Randers.