Tuesday 20 February 2018

A Couple Of Days In Piedmont - Visit To Brezza & Silvio Grasso

The view from my hotel room
You know that you are in Italy when you drive 120 km/h on a 100 km/h road and you are overtaken by a hearse (how can they be in a hurry?)

Five weeks ago I arrived in Barolo at lunch hour, checked in at Hotel Barolo (what a name!), raided a couple of Enoteca´s (for some bottles to have as first aid kit in the hotel room...) and then made a short walk from my room til the Brezza winery.
I was met by the charming Michela who showed me the cellar and talked about the history of the Brezza family and the current state of affairs.

The new equipment just in!

Then we headed to the office (it was too cold in the tasting room in the cellar) and I got to taste these wines:

2016 Langhe Chardonnay
The Brezza Chardonnay is fresh, upfront, spicy and floral with lots of white flowers, chrushed rocks and  a hint of grass.
The taste is pure and racy with notes of gravel. cold butter and flowers. A very fine acidity and nerve.
90p   (tasted 2018/01)

2016 Dolcetto d´Alba
A fine, herbal, high and pure Dolcetto with notes of ripe blueberries, violets and underbrush. Very, very good.
The taste is juicy and herbal with notes of dry lingonberries, forest floor and some peppery notes. Juicy and fine.
88p   (tasted 2018/01)

2015 Barbera Vigna Santa Rosalia
This Barbera does only see steel tank during its upbringing. It shows a young, easy going nose with some balsamic scents alongside aromas of dried raspberries and dry licorice. From a vineyard just outside Alba.
The taste is medium bodied and fine with notes of dried raspberies, earth and a touch of tobacco. Very, very good.
88p   (tasted 2018/01)

2015 Barbera Superiore
The Superiore sees wood. When the large oak casks is bought they are used for the Barbera for three years before the wood sees the Baroli. This Barbera is denser than the Santa Rosalia with more black than red fruit and notes of moist undergrowth, tobacco and a hint of chocolate.
The taste is tight and concentrated with notes of ripe black fruits, forest floor, licorice and fir wood. Long and satisfying.
90p   (tasted 2018/01)

2015 Nebbiolo d´Alba Vigna Santa Rosalia
The Santa Rosalia Nebbiolo is a beauty with lots of rose petals, lingonberries, earth and bakelite. High, floral and very fine.
The taste is high, dry, flavourful with notes of sweet lingonberries, leather, dried flowers and earth. A lovely mouthfeel of young, juicy Nebbiolo.
91p   (tasted 2018/01)

2016 Langhe Nebbiolo
Drunk at dinner at Brezza Ristorante. A fine, earthy nose with notes of herbs, iron, cool raspberries and a touch of mint. Deep and fine.
The taste is fine and elegant with notes of lingonberries, earth, candle grease and herbs. Silky tannins. Long and fine.
91p   (tasted 2018/01

2014 Barolo
In 2014 the Normale contains the grapes from Castellero, which wasn´t up to par in this vintage. How much that has given the blend a boost I don´t know, but this is a serious wine. The nose is fragrant and light with notes of ripe lingonberries, undergrowth and rosehips. Light yes but also deep and persistent. Very, very good.
The taste is refined and cool with notes of red currants, lingonberries, chrushed rocks and a hint of fir wood. Long and lingering. Really good. 5+ years.
90p   (tasted 2018/01)

Michela in action!
2014 Barolo Cannubi
This is a handsome, lovely wine with a highly perfumed, intense nose with notes of red cherries, violets, rosehips and a ever so slight hint of tobacco. Wonderful.
The taste is silky and refined with notes of cherries, mushrooms, gravel and dried flowers. A long, finely tuned finish with polished tannins. Delicate. Very long. 7+ years. A very fine 2014 indeed.
94p   (tasted 2018/01)

2014 Barolo Sarmassa
The Sarmassa is denser and more broad shouldered than the Cannubi, with notes of ripe raspberries, smoke, leather and warm tiles. Very deep.
The taste is thick and concentrated with notes of ripe cherries, licorice, asphalt and hard cherry candy. A very long, tight finish with some rugged tannins. Will need 8+ years. Great wine.
93p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo
It was very interesting getting the opportunity to taste the 13 vintage beside the 14. I got to taste 19 different wines from the 2014 vintage - a too small a selection to make a broad statement on the vintage, but after tasting and talking to the wine makers, you get some sort of clue. Will be back with some words on the vintage in a later post.
The 13 Normale has a cool, laid back nose with notes of forest floor, paint, rosehips and violets. A good energy in this one. Very, very good.
The taste is tight and fine with notes of ripe lingonberries, smoke, fir wood and leather. Silky tannins. Long and fine. 3+ years.
90p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo Castellero
A fine, distinct, earthy nose with notes of red cherries, licorice, hot gravel and some strawberries lurking in the background. Deep and tight with a fine balance.
The taste is sturdy and dry with very fine, ripe red fruits and notes of leather, violets and chrushed rocks. A long finish with energetic tannins. Will turn out great with 6+ years in the cellar.
92p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo Cannubi
The 13 Cannubi is a beauty, with a high,, intense nose with notes of rose petals, tobacco, red cherries and warm herbs. A very fine sweetness to the fruit. Lovely.
The taste is a display of power, grip and structure, with notes of hard cherry candy, violets, tobacco and minerals. The finish is long and expressive. A stunner in the making, 7+ years.
94p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo Sarmassa
The 13 Sarmassa wasn´t poured at the winery and when I found it in a Enoteca, I thought I should complete the picture of the 13´s from Brezza. The nose is deep and spicy with notes of ripe cherries, fir wood, asphalt and a hint of pepper. A very fine structure. Deep and fine.
The taste is tight and concentrated with notes of red cherries, smoke, spice, hot gravel and leather. Some solid tannins in the long, long finish. 10+ years.
92p   (tasted 2018/01)

Silvio Grasso
The recently tasted 1964 Barolo Cascina Luciani, Alessio Grasso was made by Paolo Grasso´s grandfather, he told me when I visited. And I got to taste the somewhat younger 2013 Brico Luciani, now made by Paolo and his father. A very nice visit indeed, tasting through their wines and talking to Paolo.

Paolo in the cellar
2016 Langhe Dolcetto
A light, floral nose with notes of ripening blueberries, hay and cookie dough. Fresh and fine.
The taste is young, perky and salivating with a fine mix of blueberries and lingonberries with some gravelly notes. Light, sandy tannins.
87p   (tasted 2018/01)

2016 Barbera d`Alba
This is a serious Barbera with juicy raspberry fruit mixed up with licorice, herbs, tobacco and dark perfume. Very fine.
The taste has a nice grip and tension with notes of raspberry licorice, asphalt, violets and dried flowers. A very fine acidity. Lip smacking good!
91p   (tasted 2018/01)

2016 Barbera d´Alba Fontanile
The Fontanile sees some wood and the fruit is more cherry like with some additional dry chocolate and ripe plums. A good depth.
The taste is plummy and fine with notes of warm herbs, licorice, chocolate and leather. Long and warm. Very, very good but the regular Barbera is more to my liking.
88p   (tasted 2018/01)

2015 Langhe Rosso
There is something about me and unortodox blends that doesn´t click. This is 33% each of Syrah, Merlot and Nebbiolo (I wonder what the last, missing percentage is...?) and what I get on the nose is a mix of different berries, some warmth and smoky notes. But what is it? The characters of the individual grapes get lost in the mix.
The taste is the same, a fruit compote with a good tannin structure, some warmth and a nice, dry ending. Quality wise, a good wine, but anonymous for me.
85p   (tasted 2018/01)

2016 Langhe Nebbiolo
Another 16 Nebbiolo that gives some indication of what that vintage will offer up when the Baroli are to be released... The nose is open, polished and handsome with notes of ripe red cherries, strawberries, forest floor and rosehips. Very fine.
The taste is balanced and multi layered with notes of red currants, cherries, roses, violets and paint. Discrete tannins in the long finish. Very promising.
91p   (tasted 2018/01)

2015 Langhe Nebbiolo Peirass
Lots of warm roses, herbs, ripe cherries and undergrowth oozes up from the glass. A very fine warmth.
The taste is structured and fine with notes of ripe cherries, salt licorice, rosehips and tobacco, with a hint of oak. A fine length. Very, very good.
90p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo
The 13 Normale displays an laid back, old style Barolo with notes of strawberries, veal stock, paint and some balsamic aromas. Very, very good.
The taste is seedy and fine, like biting on a cherry pip, with notes of balsa wood, asphalt and rosehips. Fine tuned tannins. A fine energy. 3+ years.
90p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo Turné
The Turné is a beauty, with a deep, herbal nose with notes of ripe lingonberries, earth, roses and hints of dog fur (in a positive way!). Very fine.
The taste is cool, floral and fresh with notes of red currants, violets, earth and dried flowers. Long and distinct with poised tannins. This is really good.
93p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo Bricc Manzoni
An open, spicy nose with notes of tomatoe paste, ripe cherries, road dust and licorice. A fine warmth. Very, very good.
The taste is young, tight and concentrated with notes of cherry licorice, smoke, asphalt and rosehips. A long, warm, dusty finish. 7+ years.
90p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo Brico Luciani
Aaah, what a gorgeosu creature. The nose offers up a lovely mix of raspberries, perfume, mushrooms and balsamic aromas. Very deep. Lots of forest floor after a while. Really fine.
The taste is refined and focused with notes of sour/sweet cherries, dark rose, undergrowth and a hint of truffle. Silky tannins with a fine grip. Very long. 8+ years.
94p   (tasted 2018/01)

2013 Barolo Annunziata Vigna Pligotti
A deep, dark, old fashioned nose with notes of forest floor, mushrooms en masse, warm herbs, tobacco and paint. Rugged and fine.
The taste is deep, warm and complex with notes of hard cherry candy, mushrooms, dried herbs, asphalt and nail polish. Interesting and multi layered. There is plenty of broad shouldered tannins. This is for the long haul. Great.
93p   (tasted 2018/01)

2014 Barolo
I hade to push Paolo a bit to make him open a 2014 Barolo. He is not a fan of the vintage and as I understood it, even hesitent to bottle it as a Barolo. But it is not a bad Barolo. Light yes, complex no but enjoyable yes. And sometimes that is all you want and need.
The nose is open and ligth with notes of lingonberries, damp earth, fir wood and a hint of licorice. Nice enough.
The taste is cool and medium bodied with small perky tannins and light red fruited mid palate. A decent balance and it ends with a nice dry twist. Not a great wine but a Barolo for day to day drinking the next 3-5 years.
86p   (tasted 2018/01)


  1. It is cheaper for you if you move to Barolo...since you can not stay away for more than a month..��

  2. By the way...since I am going there in April...is there a Barbaresco producer worth to visit...?
    Not looking for fancy stuff....just solid quality and price.

    1. Yes, I would love to move there, only 39 days before going again...:-)
      Haven´t been visiting many Barbaresco producers over the years - with 700 Barolo producers you have to limit yourself... but Sottimani was very nice some years ago. And I am looking forward to visit the Produttori.

  3. Great notes.
    How would you characterise Grasso's style in terms of oak sensations. No, subtle or overt?
    BR Jesper

    1. Thanks Jesper! All Baroli, except Turné which onlu sees big Slavonian oak, gets 24 months in French barriques, old and new. They have cut down on the percentage of new oak. There is a touch of oak both on the nose and palate but it is a gentle on, which will disappear with age. I have quite a large oak tolerance so for me they handle it great, but ones mileage can vary.