Vinopolpick Thursday – Feb 27

February 27, 2014
Elio Grasso and Bruna Grimaldi
We’ve explored Barolo through several of our newsletters, so this time we will begin with just a quick introduction into this noteworthy region of Italy before exploring our two featured producers: Elio Grasso and Bruna Grimaldi.  Barolo was one of the first regions to garner the DOCG status upon its creation in 1980 due to its exceptional wines of power, depth, complexity and ageability.  It is composed of several communes each producing unique styles of Barolo due to their various soil composition, aspect, elevation and microclimate. Of the five major communes in the Barolo DOCG: Soils in Castiglione-Falleto, Serralunga d’Alba and Monforte d’Alba tend to be less dense and less fertile, with sandstone and limestone.  These intense and structured wines need age to soften.  Serralunga is known to result in richly tannic wines while Monforte produces deeply concentrated wines.  La Morra commune often produces the most perfumed and delicate, while the Barolo commune is condusive aromatic and complex wines.  

Communes of Barolo DOCG
Elio Grasso 
In 1979, Elio Grasso began bottling his wine under his own name.  He was influenced by the esteemed Barolo producer Aldo Conterno, a traditionalist who incorporated a touch of modernist style.  Today his son Gianluca has taken over the management of the estate, though Elio is still involved in operations. They own 45 acres of vineyard land with no designs to expand so the family can manage operations themselves.  Under Gianluca’s leadership, the estate tends towards an old school style but with a hint of modern, lush fruit.  All of the wines are single vineyard produced exclusively from estate grown fruit from their holdings in the Monforte commune.  Grapes are hand harvested and the wine is fermented in stainless steel.  Only the Riserva sees new oak or other hints of modernism.  The wines are all matured in the large, temperature-controlled cellar the family constructed into the side of a nearby mountain.From the Gavarini vineyard, considered one of Monforte’s premier vineyard sites, the estate produces the Gavarini Chiniera and the Runcot Riserva.  The vineyard has clay and limestone soil with a high elevation resulting in rich and dense wines.  Elio Grasso produces two different wines from this vineyard.  The Gavarini Chiniera is from 30 year old vines and is matured in large Slovenian oak barrels before being bottle aged from 8-10 months.  The Runcot Riserva is from 25 year old vines and only produced during the best vintages.  It is matured in new French oak with 18-24 months of bottle aging.  In total, it sees two additional years of aging.   From the Ginestra vineyard, Grasso produces the Ginestra Casa Mate.  This high scoring wine is slightly lusher than other styles.  It is selected from 40 year old vines and sees the same aging regiment as the Gavarini Chiniera.

Elio Grasso Wines Available Here Now
Elio Grasso Barolo Gavarini Chiniera 2007 ($99.95) $66 special, 9 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93+ points 
“The 2007 Barolo Gavarini Vigna Chiniera opens with an exotic bouquet of candied red fruit, flowers, mint and minerals. This is an unusually opulent, racy style for Grasso. The Gavarini is a touch hot and alcoholic at first, but with several hours of air, that quality seemed to resolve itself nicely. Silky, beautifully integrated tannins frame a finish of exceptional elegance. The personality of the year marks the Gavarini to a significant degree. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.”
Elio Grasso Barolo Gavarini Chiniera 2008 ($129.95) $99 special, 4+ cases available
Wine Advocate 97+ points
 “The 2008 Barolo Gavarini Vigna Chiniera is flat-out great. Sweet roses, spices, mint, flowers and red berries are some of the notes that emerge from this profound, utterly moving Barolo. The 2008 possesses dazzling inner perfume, endless layers of bright red fruit and stunning overall balance. Fine, silky tannins frame the extraordinarily elegant finish. This is a fabulous wine from Gianluca Grasso and his family. Chalky notes frame an energetic, brilliant finish sprinkled with shades of the 1989.”

Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra Casa Mate 2008 ($129.95) $99 special, 4 cases available
Wine Advocate 98+ points
 “Licorice, tar, menthol, spices and crushed rocks are some of the nuances that flow from the 2008 Barolo Ginestra Vigna Casa Mate. This dramatic, large-scaled Barolo impresses for its towering depth, complexity and sheer pedigree. Tar, menthol, licorice and spices wrap around the fleshy, deep finish. The Ginestra Vigna Casa Mate is considerably more powerful than the silkier Gavarini, but both wines represent the height of finesse in Nebbiolo.”

Elio Grasso Barolo Riserva Runcot 2004 1.5L ($329.95) $249 special, 11 bottles available
Wine Spectator 98 points
 “Sweet spices introduce this concentrated red, whose deep, sappy flavors of cherry and plum mesh effortlessly with the supple texture. Licorice and mineral notes play around the edges, while the tannins are well-integrated. Stays bright and long on the finish. Best from 2013 through 2035.”

Bruna Grimaldi
Bruna Grimaldi’s uncle Giacomo first began selling grapes from his vineyard land in 1957.  Since 1960, his brother and then his niece (Bruna) have produced and bottled estate wine from their vineyards.  Today, the estate shares Bruna’s name.  She co-owns and operates it with her husband, Granco Fiorino with assistance from agronomist Giampiero Romana.  She took over ownership of the estate in 1990 and inherited the Badarina vineyard in the Serralunga from her mother’s side.  Since that time, they have purchased a parcel of the Bricco Ambrogio vineyard in Serralunga.
Since they first began bottling their own wine, the family’s main focus has been to preserve the natural characteristics of the grapes.  Bruna uses vineyard management techniques such as careful green harvests and monitoring of brix, acidity and phenolic ripeness to concentration aromas and flavors in her wines.  The resulting wines are fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel, aged in large wooden barrels and tonneaux without new oak, and are bottle aged for 8-10 months before release.Today, the Bruna Grimaldi estate is composed of 25 acres of vineyard land in Eastern and Northeastern sub-regions of Barolo: Grinzane Cavour, Diano d’Alba, Roddi and Serralunga.  They produce a single vineyard wine and a Riserva from the Badarina vineyard in the Southeast of the Serralunga sub-region.  The soil is calcareous.  It was planted with vines between 1985 and 1999 and their first harvest was in 1999.  The vineyard results in robust, full bodied wines with lush perfumes.  The single vineyard bottling is aged for 24-30 months in puncheons and the Riserva for 42 months in tonneaux and barrels.  These wines are robust and age well.  The Camilla is produced from their older vines in the Grinzane Cavour.  This sees 24-30 months of aging in tonneaux.  This wine has more delicate aromatics with a rich texture.  

We think you will enjoy how these Barolos capture the essence of the Nebbiolo grape.

Bruna Grimaldi Available Now
Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Badarina 2006 ($49.95) $40.90 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points 
“Full, rich and deep, this red evokes cherry, plum, iron and tobacco. Shows roundness, with firm, energetic tannins flashing their grip. Displays excellent spine and length. Best from 2014 through 2030.”
Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Badarina 2008 ($49.95) $41.90 special, 13 bottles available
Wine Spectator 94 points
 “Aromatic, showing mint, cherry, licorice and clove notes backed by a thick base of tannins. A savory, mineral element enters at midpalate and lingers on the complex aftertaste. Shows fine balance overall. Best from 2017 through 2037.” 

Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Badarina Riserva 2006 ($69.95) $51.90 special, 27 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points 
“The 2006 Barolo Riserva Badarina Vigna Regnola is a fine and gracious wine, with deep layers and striking complexity. The style is noticeably bigger and bolder and the quality of the fruit is bright and intense. Dried cherries, red currant, cedar, cinnamon and garden herbs play supporting roles. The finish is layered with dark, velvety texture. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2025.

Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Camilla 2009 ($37.95) $28 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 93 points
 “The lovely 2009 Barolo Camilla opens to characteristic Nebbiolo aromas of wild berry, dried mint, licorice tar and pressed rose. The wine is elegant and feminine overall with fine, silky tannins at the rear. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025” 

Other Exceptional Barolos Available Now
Marziano Abbona Terlo Ravera Barolo 2006 ($79.95) $59 special, 13 bottles available
Wine Spectator 96 points 
“Raspberry, cherry, iron and floral notes mark this silky red, which is fresh and complex at once, with a refined structure, gret harmony and elegance. Almost approachable now, but the long finish and tight tannins suggest this has plenty of life ahead. Best from 2014 through 2030.”
Brezza Barolo Bricco Sarmassa 2008 ($69.95) $55 special, 29 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points
 “The 2008 Barolo Bricco Sarmassa is fabulous. It boasts gorgeous inner sweetness, cool minerality and fabulous perfume. Dark cherries, mint, flowers and spices wrap around the gorgeous, chiseled finish. The Bricco Sarmassa is one of the Barolo’s most under-the-radar wines. This is a prototypical 2008 that captures the very best qualities of the year. Layers of fruit build to the long, vibrant finish. Enzo Brezza did a great job with his Bricco Saramassa in 2008. Brezza remains one of the best-kept secrets in traditionally-made Barolo. One day people will figure it out, but in the meantime shrewd consumers would do well to pay attention to the best wines that emerge from this small cellar in the center of town.”

Brovia Barolo Rocche 2007 ($99.95) $69 special, 26 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points
 “The 2007 Barolo Rocche emerges from the glass with freshly cut roses, sweet berries and spices. The Rocche is always the most open of Brovia’s single vineyard Baroli. In 2007 the wine has an extra dimension of textural richness that makes it incredibly appealing even at this young stage. Floral notes reappear on the silky, pure finish. This is a fabulous showing, but the wine will be even better in a few years”

Burlotto Barolo 2009 ($49.95) $39 special, 3+ cases available
Antonio Galloni 93 points 
“The 2009 Barolo is a great introduction to the wines of this historic estate. Plums, black cherries, menthol, licorice and sweet herbs all emerge from a layered, totally sensual Barolo loaded with class and pure personality. A bit juicier than normal, the 2009 offers lovely persistence and mid-palate pliancy all the way through to a creamy, expressive finish laced with sweet tobacco, herbs and cedar. There is a lot to like here.”

Burlotto Barolo Acclivi 2009 ($59.95) $47 special, 17 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 92 points
 “Another gorgeous wine, the 2009 Barolo Acclivi is one of the more delicate wines here, its considerable depth notwithstanding. Freshly cut flowers, mint licorice and spices are backed up by serious weight, which is quite unusual for the Acclivi. As readers can tell from this note, the Acclivi is a wine of beautiful contrasts. Firm, dusty tannins frame an insistent, beautifully articulated finish. In 2009, the Acclivi impresses for so many things, most importantly a sense of balance that is elusive in this vintage.”

Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin 2008 ($119.95) $79 special, 36 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 96 points 
“Medium red.  Deeper and richer on the nose than the Pajana, with scents of redcurrant, mocha, dried flowers and earth.  Wonderfully deep, layered and sweet; lush but with good limestone lift.  This floods the palate with flavor and lingers with exceptional purity and persistence.”

Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera 2006 ($69.95) $44 special, 27 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points
 “The 2006 Barolo Ravera is darker, richer and more sensual than the Cascina Nuova. Layers of dark fruit intermingled with sweet balsamic nuances of cloves, pine and menthol flow effortlessly from the Ravera. The richness of the density matches the tannins step by step all the way through to a sensual, inviting finish that begs for another taste. This, too, is a superb effort. Ravera isn’t usually considered one of the very finest sites for Nebbiolo in Barolo, but in Cogno’s hands the fruit seems to reach an unprecedented level of finesse and elegance. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2026.”

Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2009 ($59.95) $55 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 93 points 
“The 2009 Barolo Bussia is a magnificent wine that makes a bold opening statement thanks to the high caliber and intensity of its bouquet. Power and sheer determination set the wine on course smoothly over the palate and the quality of the tannin is firm and tense. The wine presents fruit characteristics of dried cherry and cassis that are not too obvious but are soon followed by delicate tobacco, Indian spice, cola, tar and licorice. It’s a picture-perfect young Barolo for 2009. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.”

Aldo Conterno Barolo 2005 ($89.95) $59 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 91 points
 “The 2005 Barolo offers up gorgeous aromas that literally fill the room with intense perfume. This finessed, mid-weight wine reveals superb purity to its primary, fresh fruit in an ethereal style. Finessed tannins round out this complete Barolo. The wine clamped up quickly in the glass, but it should be beautiful in another year or so. Beginning with the 2004, Conterno’s Barolo contains 20% fruit from Barolo in addition to the Bussia fruit that made up the wine in previous vintages. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020.”

Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia 2008 ($149.95) $129 special, 32 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 95+ points
 “The 2008 Barolo Cascina Francia possesses gorgeous inner perfume, layers of sublime fruit and fabulous overall balance. Plums, dark cherries and licorice are followed by darker notes of graphite and tar as the wine opens up in the glass. Today, the 2008 is much less expressive than it has been the many times I have tasted it from barrel. It will be interesting to see how the 2008 develops and whether it puts on weight or remains more of a mid-weight, gracious Barolo. Either way, it is fabulous.”

Franco Serra Barolo 2007 ($29.95) $19 special, 39 bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points
 “Sweet cherry and berry notes mingle with licorice, leather and spices in this appealing Barolo. Open and approachable, with harmony and finesse already.”

Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche Del Falletto 2005 ($249.95) $179 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 96+ points 
“The 2005 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto is a massive, towering Barolo loaded with tons of rich, primary fruit. The wine remains powerful, dense and muscular with superb length even if it is a smaller-scaled Barolo compared to previous great vintages. That said, when I came back to the wine after it had been in the glass for an hour or so, I found that the wine had grown remarkably.”

Giacosa Barolo Falletto 2008 1.5L ($419.95) $389 special, 11 magnums available
Wine Spectator 96 points 
“Warm and chewy, this red exhibits cedar, sandalwood, tobacco and leather accents enhancing the core of cherry and raspberry. As this plays out on the palate, the wine turns more supple and vibrant, building to the long, expansive finish. Best from 2016 through 2035.”

G. Mascarello Barolo Monprivato 2008 ($119.95) $99 special, 3+ cases available
#6 Wine in 2013 Wine Spectator Top 100
Wine Spectator 95 points
 “Detailed and fragrant, offering floral, strawberry, cherry, licorice and spice flavors, this is elegant and underlined by a strong mineral streak. Well-proportioned, picking up intensity and complexity on the long, savory finish. Extremely fresh and classy”

Mauro Molino Barolo 2009 ($44.95) $36 special, 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points 
“The entry-level 2009 Barolo proves to be an elegant and understated wine that needs more time to open. It presents a slow succession of aromas, including dark fruit, cassis, licorice, raw spice and powdered chocolate. Firm but silky tannins hold it together nicely. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2023…90” WA 6/13 “Founded in 1982, Mauro Molino is a young estate that is already seeing the participation of a second generation. Father Mauro Molino works alongside his 29-year-old son Matteo and 24-year-old daughter Martina, who both caught the winemaking bug at an early age. They own 13 hectares of vines, most of which are located in the township of La Morra.”

Monchiero Barolo Rocche Falletto Riserva 2006 ($49.95) $30.90 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Spectator 93 points
 “Distinctive and alluring aromas and flavors of flowers, dried cherry, leather and licorice are matched to an elegant profile. There’s a firm, underlying structure, and this lingers with dried berry, leather and tobacco notes. Best from 2014 through 2028. 275 cases made.”

Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne 2004 ($149.95) $99 super special, 16 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points 
“The 2004 Barolo Le Vigne is a phenomenal effort. Sweet, long and pure, it reveals an expansive core of perfumed ripe red fruit, flowers and spices. Despite its notable concentration it is made in a restrained style, showing remarkable elegance as well as harmony, with superb length and finessed tannins on the close. Le Vigne is made from the Ceretta, Vignane, Merli and Conterni vineyards. I have tasted the wines from these plots separately on many occasions. Curiously, I have never been particularly impressed by any of the wines on their own, yet when they are blended the results can be extraordinary, as is the case with the sublime 2004 Le Vigne. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2019.”

Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2009 ($49.95) $37 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 94 points 
“The 2009 Barolo Castiglione delivers a radiant but subdued quality with polished notes of dry mineral, black fruit, tar, licorice, leather and many more levels of complexity. This entry-level Barolo demonstrates that great results are achieved in 2009. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.”

Vietti Barolo Rocche 2008 ($139.95) $99 special, 26 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points 
“The 2008 Barolo Rocche shows the best balance of fruit and structure among the 2008 Baroli. Sweet, silky tannins frame expressive dark red fruit in the 2008 Rocche. This is an especially structured, powerful style for the Rocche, and a true testament to the level of conviction at Vietti. The Rocche turns sweeter and more sensual with time in the glass. The tannins possess remarkable finesse. Vietti’s Rocche could be used to teach a class on the greatness of the Rocche vineyard. It is dazzling from start to finish.”

Roberto Voerzio Barolo Cerequio 2007 ($349.95) $299 special, 10 bottles available
Wine Advocate 98 points 
“Voerzio’s 2007 Barolo Cerequio is a wonderful counter to the virile, imposing Brunate. Sweet red fruit, flowers and menthol are woven into a nuanced, textured fabric of notable class and elegance. The Cerequio possesses dazzling inner perfume, silky tannins and phenomenal length. It is a stunning, beautifully articulated Barolo blessed with tons of intensity and compelling overall balance. A final burst of red berries informs the long, explosive, perfumed finish. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027.”