Silvio Grasso is a small family run estate that specializes in Piemonte’s most important red grape varieties: Barbera and Nebbiolo. Located in the Barolo commune of La Morra this estate has been making Piemontese classics since 1927. However, in the last decade this property’s star has risen sharply and continues to ascend, thanks to the guidance and passion of its present guardian Federico Grasso, who manages both the vineyard and the cellar himself. He is a proponent of the “new style” of Barolo and an ardent advocate of seductive, barrel aged Barbera.
Federico fashions two exceptional single vineyard cru Barolos, Bricco Luciani and Bricco Manzoni, from his own southwestern facing vineyards on the slopes of La Morra. Grasso also produces a single vineyard Barbera d’Alba Fontanile, one of Piemonte’s finest Barbera wines and ample testimony to the benefits of barrel aging and the deft touch of Federico Grasso. In addition to these single vineyard selections, Federico Grasso fashions an assortment of Barbera and Nebbiolo based wines from surrounding vineyards. Perhaps, most intriguing among the estate’s non cru wines is L’Insieme, an increasingly popular blend of Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Nebbiolo. As a member of the L’Insieme Association, Silvio Grasso is entitled to use the name “L’Insieme” (which means roughly together or the ensemble), and blend the two traditional Piemontese grape varieties Barbera and Nebbiolo with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Proceeds from L’Insieme wines go to charity.
Barolo: The King of Wines, and the Wine of Kings
Barolo has affectionately and appropriately been referred to as the “king of wines, and the wine of kings.” In a fine vintage and in the hands of a skilled winemaker, Barolo is unquestionably a noble wine, richly deserving of the many accolades that have been bestowed upon it. Barolo is born on the Langhe Hills of Italy’s Piedmont, on steep craggy Alpine foothills as they tumble out of nearby Switzerland and France. Typically, it is the most masculine of Piedmont’s three great Nebbiolo wines and the focal point in the region’s viticultural tiara. Its lineage dates back to the Middle Ages, and by the mid 18th century Barolo had begun to evolve into its present form in the vicinity of Alba, a distinct Old World city that serves as the white truffle capital of Italy as well as Piedmont’s premier wine town.
Today, the limited production of Barolo generates from the huddled hills of two valleys, Serralunga and Barolo, and their five principal communities, all of which lie to the southwest of the city of Alba and are reputed to impart distinctive characteristics and traits to their respective progeny. The townships of Serralunga, Castiglione Falletto, and Monforte are situated in the Serralunga Valley and are reputed to produce the region’s most masculine, longest-lived Barolos. Meanwhile, Barolo and La Morra, from which the more “delicate” wines of the zone are said to flow, are part of the Barolo Valley. However, there are many exceptions and innumerable variations in Barolo on the same theme, and this does not even take into account the decades old debate in Barolo over the relative merits of the modern and traditional styles of Barolo, which have as much to do with individual winemaking techniques as they do the amount and kind of barrel aging the wines receive. Happily, in the end, there is great Barolo fashioned in all five of the major townships, in both modern and traditional styles. Salute!