Spotlight on Nebbiolo: Elio Grasso “Ginestra Casa Mate” Barolo 2005

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With each bottle of Nebbiolo I consume I am slowly being introduced to real obsession. Add to that the majesty of Barolo and I am afraid that my future wine budget has been entirely allocated to these seemingly unaffordable bottles. Then again, when you compare Nebbiolo to Bordeaux, Burgundy and cult Calfornia Cabernet, it is a complete steal.

Nebbiolo Elegance

Elio Grasso is a somewhat modernist. These are middle aged vines (20-25 years for the Barolos), but they are oh so elegant. Near Alba, the clayey, calcerous soils give rise to wines of great elegance and the Grosso is an excellent example of the truly whispy, ethereal nature of Nebbiolo grown in these soils.

Though modernist in their shorter macerations and occasional use of oak barriques, Grasso does generally use Slavonian oak and his wines can best be described as modern elegance coupled with traditional sophistication.

A Feminine Barolo

This 2005, grown in the south-facing Casa Mate vineyard at 300 metres above sea level, presents that vintage’s lighter berry fruits and aromatic elegance. It is surprising that a wine this young can offer so much at this point, but the combination of increasing efforts to use modern techniques to tame the Nebbiolo grape and the basic reality that so-called “lesser” vintages often offer up much more readily drinkable wines than “great” vintages, make this wine an absolute standout amongst current vintages.

The tannins are still firm, though integrated, and while the oak is still just peeking through, this wine is unmistakably Barolo and unmistakably entrancing in its aromatics. I find it quite elegant and finessed and even somewhat feminine on the palate. This is beautiful, entirely seamless silky Barolo for those who like a touch of modernity and plenty of delicious elegance. This is wonderful wine for drinking now and for the next 3-4 years.

So, I have to now revise my favourite wines in the world to: Northern Rhone Syrah, Alsatian Riesling, Chablis, and Piedmontese Nebbiolo.

$116 at Kits Wine


  1. Brad
    January 14, 2012

    Thanks for posting all the Nebbiolo articles Shea…some good stuff in there. And glad to hear it’s re-stimulated your love for one of the grandest of grapes!


  2. Shea
    January 14, 2012

    Thanks Brad, a few more to come as well. I’m certainly loving it.

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