Monday, 30 July 2012

Back to Barbaresco

My second visit of the trip returns me to Treiso, just a few hundred yards away from Nada Giuseppe in the Val Grande, a beautiful oval-shaped valley carpeted in vines. The estate is that of the brothers Luigi and Alfredo Grasso, Grasso Fratelli. Neither of the brothers speaks any English so, with my limited Italian I am relieved their niece, Elisa, is on hand to show me round.

I have already tasted some of the wines back in England. What is immediately attractive is the fact that they can offer a selection of single-vineyard Barbaresco wines going back to 1999 so there is the possibility of trying something that is at least semi-mature, a rarity in this accountant-driven world.

Starting out with the non-Barbaresco wines was interesting although, I confess, non of them wowed me as much as the semi-mature Barbarescos I was treated to. There was a barrique-fermented Chardonnay and a Spumante Brut which was not too dry. A trio of Dolcetto wines included a very young 2011 with a very young, almost vegetal, nose, a wine which needs time to flesh out. The 2009 was more rounded but has some sourness. A 2003 was offered with its noticeably fuller nose and fleshier body. Still a Dolcetto though.

A couple of Barberas followed: a 2008 and an oaked one from 2009, both decent enough but eclipsed (for me) by the 2008 Nebbiola which was quite open with some chewy tannins. However, the big leap was yet to come.

Four ranges of Barbaresco are available: a Normale was tasted from 2005 back in England and found to be correct but not the most exciting wine in the range, inevitably. The three single-vineyard wines, however, include some rather special wines. The 2007 San Stunet shows some oak through the easy-drinking style. Good tannins. The Bricco Spessa range comes from the Giacosa vineyard. The oak used in the 2004 is almost indiscernible now but, then, only 25% barrique is used with 75% in botti. The wine has good mouthfeel and nice tannins. The 2001 is soft and drinking well but food will soften the tannins further. There is a long finish here.

The Sori Valgrande wines see around 45% barrique with the balance in botti. I liked the fresh 2009 which seemed quite superior with good fruit and length. Inevitably there are tannins to combat here: one to cellar. The 2001 still has some oak on the nose but it is well integrated with the sweet Nebbiolo fruit; very drinkable now. The 2000 is evolved, especially on the palate with secondary fruit starting to show. The 1999 follows the same path.

To cleanse my palate, a lovely Moscato d'Asti which was sweet, balanced with lovely fresh acidity. Just right.

Overall, an interesting estate and a real pleasure to taste the older vintages which are quite traditional in style with fruit taking centre stage. I will be working my way through the wines I took away with me with close interest!

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