Vino Vinace Consulting

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Grasso, Elio
Azienda agricola Elio Grasso
Località Ginestra 40
Monforte d'Alba CN
tel. 0173 78491
fax 0173 789907

There might be no more picture perfect place than the expansive yard fronting Elio Grasso’s house and cantina. With breath-taking views over the rolling ridge of Ginestra and a birds eye view of Serralunga one can spend hours there admiring some of the finest vineyards in all the world.

What a surprise it is to then be lead deep underground into the new ageing cave that the Grasso’s have dug out of their hillside. Long and high with what appear to be landing lights imbedded in the floor one has the impression of stepping into a hanger at area 51 where unidentified flying object go to meet terra firma.

Of course this is a cellar with a purpose. At 14 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity it is the perfect place for ageing wine. In fact the new cave is made in a U shape with each arm having distinct conditions. The Barricaia is kept a few degrees warmer and dryer to allow for better oxygen exchange, color fixing and tannin conditioning. Here row apon row of Chardonnay, Barbera and Barolo Runcot age in 100% Allier barrique.

Todays tasting would be a vertical of the Case Mate Barolo which is aged in untoasted, Slavonian botte that range from 7 to 18 years of age. The identical regiment is used for the Chiniera Cru as well. While the Case Mate vineyard cannot be seen from that beautiful lawn the eponymous house can and stands proudly on top of the famous Ginestra ridge. The vineyard has an ideal south- southeastern exposition and with it’s slightly concave contour traps the heat of the day.

I have to add that when leaving Grasso’s place for dinner after the tasting we were struck with a dire automotive emergency that took hours to resolve but the entire Grasso family came to our rescue and for that I am indebted to them. They are as gracious and generous a family as one is ever likely to meet.

Elio Grasso Barolo case Mate Vertical

2004 – 91pts
Slight musk note to the very perfumed nose with a strong floral top note, a touch spicy and minerally with a note of old wood/salame 3+
Big but suave in the mouth with tons of ripe tannins and juicy acidity 3
Dark and chewy fruit leaning towards black raspberry/dark cherry with a slightly bittersweet cocoa edge 2+
Fresh cherry fruit on the finish which is a touch short with more of that cocoa edge 2

2003 – 87pts
Deeper and darker toned on the nose with that same touch of musk but also some citrusy dried lemon rind notes to the dried fruits, a bit autumnal and evolved 2+
Fresh in the mouth with good supporting acidity, a bit out of balance with stern, drying tannins 2
Dark and brooding on the palate with good freshness to jammy raspberry fruit that is developing gentle mineral and herbal nuances 2+
The long finish is full of liquory red fruits that has a slightly astringent/lingonberry tone and finishes with a touch of heat on the finale 2

2001 – 92pts

Vary tight on the nose with slow to emerge fresh vegetal tones, a bit stemmy, gaining minty and medicinal tones in the glass with a touch of prune on the nose, really seems to show warm vintage character 2+
Surprisingly cool and layered in the mouth with very fine, rounded tannin 3
Lovely complexity developing in the mouth with solid sottobosco, slightly autumnal, slightly tobacco edges to the earthy, roasted cherry fruit 3
A bit beet rooty on the finish though with sweet cherry fruit peaking out on the long finish and some coriander nuances 2+

2000 – 88pts
Very matte on the nose with strong rose and tar notes over slightly pruny fruit that has a torrefied/roast coffee/cocoa edge 2
A bit ponderous with a dull attack though nice quality to the tannins and acids if a bit heavy 2
The palate is powerful with roasted herb, menthol and fudgy tones to the dark pruny fruit 2
Finishes with admirable length that balances clean red fruits and nice chinato herbs 3

1999 – 93 pts
The light nose has a wispy elegance to the smoky asphalt and anise tinged nose that features classic cherries in alcohol layered with subtle leafy herbs 3
Soft and gentle in the mouth with good acidity and ripe tannins if a touch relaxed 2+
Ever so slightly jammy in the mouth but with excellent purity of slightly candied strawberry/red cherry fruit that reveals just a touch of limestony minerality 3
Finishes with solid length to the red fruits that offer up nuanced notes of light mineral tones and lovely middle-eastern spice and tea notes 3

1998 – 87pts
Smoky on the nose with dark, oily herb notes a touch of shoe polish, seaweed, and dried cow patty, seems almost a touch bretty 2+
Cool in the mouth with big tannins and a youthful feel 2
Full of dark berry fruit but a bit blocky and monolithic with a dried fruit tone emerging 2
Dark, fudgy and a bit short 2

1997- 87pts
Jammy fruit tones on the nose are freshened by slightly herbal floral notes and some embedded mineral nuances 2+
With good acidity yet drying tannins this comes off as a bit clumsy 2
Quite tannic at this point, closed but the subtle dried strawberry fruit may not have the power to deal with these tannins 2
Finish is short and consistent with the midpalate 2

1996 – 93pts
The nose offers up cool notes of sour berry with a bit of old wood, bologna, prosciutto, really meaty with complicating notes of musky and animal fur 3
Crisp and cool with very fine angular tannins that keep this a touch austere 3
Still a bit hard in the mouth but with excellent purity to the candied red berry fruits that have a lovely edge of bitter minerality 3
Very layered finish that is refreshing and subtle, just beginning to soften 2+

1995 – 82pts
Very autumnal on the nose with notes of coffee, dried flowers, porcini and rust 2
Very austere in the mouth with drying, unripe tannins and a rustic feel 1+
Very evolved in the mouth with autumnal notes of mushroom and beef broth with a bit of a tootsie roll edge 1+
Very drying, austere finishing with bitter coffee grind tannins 1+

1993 – 88pts
Very animal top notes with great depth to the seared cherry fruit that is edged with tobacco and tea notes. Just slightly stewy/roasted but layered and lovely 2+
Cutting acids and soft, resolving tannins are fresh in the mouth, just entering it peak drinking window 2+
While the fruit lacks some intensity is has a suave, caressing quality to the fine cherry core that is gentle edges with mineral and anise 2+
Finishing a bit short yet with crisp, crunchy appeal 2 (5/2008)
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