My most memorable meal in Italy didn’t happen at any Michelin starred restaurant in Alba. It came at the end of a crazy trek from Beaune to Monforte one winter many years ago. That drive was made without a phone and with my Michelin map spread across the dashboard. That is, until the serious snow started falling just outside of Mount Blanc. With my nose pressed close to windshield, my right arm frantically cleared the window of fog because amazingly, the crappy rental’s defroster actually made the visibility worse. Nine harrowing hours later, I stumbled my way to the kitchen of the Grasso household, frozen and starving, where a bowl of fresh pappardelle in a rabbit ragu was set in front of me by Gianluca’s mom and a glass of the most remarkable Barolo was poured into oversized crystal. I’ve never eaten so well.
Gianluca Grasso calls the vineyards Gavarini and Ginestra his “brothers”. Even though these vineyards are within a stones throw of each other, Gianluca’s “brothers” are far from twins. They are incredibly different and every year manage to show off the entire spectrum of complexity and flavors possible in Barolo. In my tasting experience, 2016 is Gianluca’s finest.
The 2016 “Gavarini” is an absolute knockout. This baby is a collector. It’s more than worthy of the 96+ points that Vinous bestowed upon the wine and the recent 98 point review courtesy of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
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98 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
The Elio Grasso 2016 Barolo Gavarini Chiniera is immediately expressive and bright. The wine is savory and rich with a generous bouquet of dried berries, spice, crushed flowers and even a hint of market-fresh blueberry that we don’t see in the other wines. The bouquet moves toward balsam notes with mint and rosemary the longer it stays in the glass. I also get anise flower and fresh licorice root as a pretty signature on the close. With aging in large Slavonian oak casks, the tannic integration is spot-on and so is the freshness and purity of those beautiful Nebbiolo nuances.