There was a time when prices in Bordeaux and Burgundy went up and down in accordance with the quality of the vintage and perceived market demand. Today, price reductions year on year are seldom witnessed and, when they are, they are often insubstantial. In Barolo, certain growers are still inclined to flex prices to reflect vintage conditions and even declassify from single vineyards into a generic cuvée when they believe it is the best course of action. This ensures the quality on offer matches a fair value. One such example is the 2014 Barolo, Elio Grasso, which we offer here at £225 per 6 bottle case in bond.
I visited Monforte d’Alba a couple of months ago and met with Gianluca Grasso of Azienda Agricola Elio Grasso. You may well be familiar with his wines – or at least the name – as he is one of the leading producers in Piedmont and we have long been impressed by the quality on show. Amongst the wines and vintages that we tasted was the 2014 Barolo. He explained that, prior to blending, his team tasted each of the single vineyard wines from his famed vineyards Gavarini and Chiniera as well as a blend of the two, all under blind conditions. The unanimous preference was for the blend of the two Cru vineyards with his team believing that the blend offered more than each of the wines individually.
To be clear, 2014 was a tricky vintage for Barolo but it does offer some pleasant surprises, especially when growers took such sensible decisions. Indeed, Antonio Galloni’s review of the vintage was entitled ‘2014 Barolo: Surprise, Surprise’ and he concluded that ‘the finest 2014s are some of the most thrilling young Barolos I have ever tasted.’ That doesn’t sound bad, does it? One issue is the fine wine market tends to work on broad generalisations and broad generalisations do not apply to 2014 Barolo – so much was down to the strategy employed by the individual grower and the timing of their decisions in the vineyard.
Given that Gianluca’s two single vineyard Barolo invariably sell for around £300 per 6 in bond on release, and that 2014 necessitated a strict selection of fruit resulting in a far smaller volume of wine, there is a real case to be argued for considering his 2014 Barolo at £225 per 6 bottle case in bond. Gianluca is sure that 2014 is not going to be considered along with the greatest wines that his estate has produced, but he also believes it to be an attractive wine in its own right. It could be broached in two to three years’ time if you wished – a stark contrast to the norm for wines from Monforte d’Alba and from that estate in particular, that normally require eight to ten years or more to truly hit their stride. That said, this wine still has the potential to age for over a decade…it is, after all, a Barolo!
So there you have it: this is not the wine of the century, but it is a delicious Barolo for early consumption with a vibrant, red fruits accent, glossy texture and a fine sense of elegance.
There is significant value in wines from great vineyards and growers in lesser years; a point that this wine – with its two notable sources – admirably demonstrates.
2014 Barolo, Elio Grasso
92 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
£225 per 6 bottle case in bond
In 2014, Gianluca Grasso opted to bottle one Barolo that is a blend of juice from Gavarini and Chiniera. Grasso's 2014 Barolo is a beautiful wine that captures the personality of the vintage. Lithe, perfumed and aromatic, the 2014 exudes class from start to finish. The flavors are wonderfully bright and vibrant, with plenty of red fruit and expressive floral overtones. The 2014 is a pretty, feminine wine that may very well surprise down the road. The Gavarini fruit saw 25 days on the skins, while fermentation and maceration for the Ginestra lots was 30-45 days, all with submerged cap. When bottling time came, Grasso preferred the blended Barolo to what would have been vineyard designate Gavarini and Ginestra Barolos. The juice from Rüncot went into the the Langhe Nebbiolo, which is the custom when the flagship Riserva is not bottled. Drink 2020-2034.
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