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NEW RELEASES : Two exceptional Barolo - 2019 Casa Matè and Chiniera from Grasso

January 2023


Two exceptional Barolo:

2019 Casa Matè and Chiniera from Grasso 

Both at £340 per 6 bottle case in bond

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‘I tasted a number of exceptional wines at Elio Grasso this fall. The 2019s are gorgeous, vivid Barolos that capture the best the year had to offer…The Grassos embody all the values of Piedmont’s historic artisan families. It’s great to see them at the top.’ So writes Antonio Galloni in his recent review of the exceptional 2019 vintage in Barolo.
You are going to hear plenty of commentary on the 2019 vintage in Barolo – indeed, my own vintage report will be released next week. I have been visiting and tasting Barolo for many years and it remains one of the regions that fascinates me most. I am certain that we have never seen such consistently fine wines emanating from this region as we are witnessing today. Since 2010, there have been so many successes, even in the less homogenous vintages, with an incredible array of truly outstanding wines made in 2010, 2013 and of course, 2016. I would also argue that, while successes in vintages like 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 may not number as greatly as in the aforementioned trio, there are still some stunning wines – all of which were released at non-bank breaking prices.
And yet, the next three vintages we are set to encounter, starting with the 2019s, could represent an epic run of vintages seldom witnessed in any wine region, let alone Piemonte. The 2019s belie the fact that they are the product of a warmer vintage (June and July saw temperatures rise considerably, only for September and October to ease off, leading to a later harvest than envisaged). They are remarkably classical in style, with fine freshness as well as a fine tannic structure, and a wealth of ripe fruit. They will need some patience but have simply terrific potential. 2020 promises to be a more accessible vintage, yet remarkably fine – it is quite an unusual vintage in a way, as the wines show striking harmony and poise at the outset, highlighting how growers have adapted to deal with climatic changes. And the 2021s seem, even at this early stage, to exude finesse and refinement allied to a classical structure. With such a run of vintages, it is hard to think that Barolo will not draw greater interest from drinkers and undoubtedly speculators. It is inevitable, as where else in the fine wine world can you find such complexity and quality at such favourable prices? A wine from a top Cru and a great vintage for around £300-£400 for a six-bottle case in bond?
As Antonio Galloni asserts in his review, Barolo is back. In his introduction to the 2019s, he comments as follows:
After the highly problematic and uneven 2018s, Barolo bounces back with a stellar vintage in 2019 that could very well represent the beginning of a new cycle of strong, outstanding years for this historic appellation. The 2019s are potent, tightly wound wines that will thrill readers who appreciate the nuance, subtlety and structure of Nebbiolo. Today, the 2019s show elements of youthful austerity that, at times, recall vintages such as 2016, 2005 and 1999. The only thing 2019 lacks is some of the visceral excitement found in the very best years, although the top wines certainly check all the boxes. 

As mentioned previously, Barolo releases do not follow a set pattern as different producers see fit to release at different stages of the year. Some of the first out the gate are the wines of my good friend, Gianluca Grasso. Since taking over from his father, Elio, Gianluca has worked tirelessly to bring about added refinement and consistency in the wines of Elio Grasso. Gianluca has also adapted to the different nature of modern Barolo vintages, and I consider his wines to excel in the warmer conditions we encounter in Piemonte today. Stylistically, that added generosity and ripeness that comes from such conditions seems to bring out added nuance and complexity in the single vineyard Barolo that Grasso produce from Monforte d’Alba. Anyone who tasted Gianluca’s 2015s, from a less lauded Barolo vintage, will be under no doubt as to how well this estate has adapted.
I have been visiting the Grassos since the 2001 vintage and have known their wines from bottle since the 1996 vintage. In the last decade they have lifted the bar hugely, with remarkably fine Barolo made in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and now 2016. As with a number of other estates, they have benefited from an unprecedented run of high-quality vintages, dictated first and foremost by the weather during the growing season, but equally Gianluca’s deft hand in winemaking has brought about greater purity and nuance in the estate’s wines. Gianluca, and his father Elio, have always stressed that wine is made in the vineyard and Gianluca often talks about the run up to harvest and the fraught few days he endures while waiting for the fruit to achieve optimum ripeness. Gianluca is obsessive about determining the perfect moment to harvest and appreciates sometimes you have to risk something to gain something if you want to allow Nebbiolo a longer hang-time than might be the case in certain vintages. The results are hugely impressive, and I consider his 2019s to rank among the most successful handful of vintages that I have tasted. I can’t recommend them highly enough, and for what its worth, I would place them on a higher tier than Antonio Galloni has in his review, as I think there is a little more potential here, and many 2019s do seem to have something in reserve – I will be fascinated to see how they evolve in bottle.
Please see below for my notes as well as those from our go-to critic, Antonio Galloni on

2019 Barolo Gavarini Chiniera, Elio Grasso 
£340 per 6 bottle case in bond
My note :
A south-facing vineyard with vines of approximately 35 years of age, planted at an altitude of 350 to 400 metres. The soils differ slightly to Casa Matè as there is a little more sand over the limestone.
Often the more expressive aromatically, the 2019 Chiniera is no exception with floral nuances, bright red fruits and hints of mint and spice. The palate shows some austerity – it reminds me of 2010 – yet there is a sense of depth, fruit held in check with notes of pomegranate, cherry and spice. The fruit shows in a juicy manner, but the youthful tannins assert. Mineral-nuanced, this has great potential. A more brooding Chiniera than I recall in recent years, it will demand patience, but has bags of potential. (SL) 2030-2048

96 points, Antonio Galloni
The 2019 Barolo Gavarini Chiniera is classically austere and just gorgeous right out of the gate. Soaring aromatics and fine, sculpted fruit race out of the glass. Crushed rose petal, cinnamon, orange peel and mint are all beautifully delineated. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2019 is going to need years to be at its best, yet it has that embryonic inner sweetness that characterizes the very finest wines here. Superb. Drink 2029-2044.

2019 Barolo Ginestra Casa Matè, Elio Grasso
£340 per 6 bottle case in bond 
My note :
A south-facing vineyard with vines of approximately 40 years of age, planted at an altitude of 300 to 350 metres. The soils here are slightly clayey over a limestone base.
The contrast between the two is always fascinating – Casa Matè 2019 reveals juicy, small dark fruits on the nose, mint and liquorice as well as a smoky, earthy touch. A powerful Barolo as always, with terrific intensity and a wealth of fruit. Casa Matè impresses on account of the volume and intensity that it reveals, yet it is still remarkably finessed and freshly-styled. The tannins are veiled by that volume of fruit, but they are beautifully tensile. Perhaps this is not showing the same degree of youthful austerity as the Chiniera this year, but it screams potential – you can’t help but be impressed by the purity and complexity – this is an outstanding Barolo. 2028-2048.

95 points, Antonio Galloni
The 2019 Barolo Ginestra Casa Matè is rich, dark and explosive. Dark-fleshed fruit, cloves menthol, licorice, scorched earth, leather and dried flowers are some of the notes that infuse the 2019 with character. Deep and resonant, with tremendous depth, the Ginestra is a wine of unbridled intensity. Swaths of tannin wrap around the huge, substantial finish. This virile, strapping Barolo is quite simply classic Ginestra. Drink 2029-2044.
Please let us know of your interest at your earliest opportunity to avoid disappointment.
All the best,

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Atlas Fine Wines Ltd. 

Atlas House, 1 King Street
London, EC2V 8AU
T: +44 (0) 20 3017 2299
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