Elio Grasso: Have They Moved Up The Quality Hierarchy?

I’ve been buying Elio Grasso Barolo since the 1999 vintage. At that time, they certainly were not considered to be one of the top producers. But for quite a few vintages now the Barolo by this winemaker have received consistently high critical acclaim. So I guess what I’m asking is should Elio Grasso be considered one of the best producers of Barolo? Thanks.

I think more than what the critics say, these guys had a great showing at the first Festa del Barolo, and really caught people’s attention. That’s a tough crowd to crack too.

Having tasted their wines from 2007, 2008 and 2010 I can say that their wines indeed look very good to excellent.

From Good…Better…Best - I will currently put them in Better category.

I have no idea about hierarchies (apart from my own, that is :slight_smile: ), so I’ll just interpret your question as a slightly more generic “did the wines improve at some point”. I’ve been buying since about the same time as you ('98), and, from where I stand, the wines have been excellent throughout (particularly the Chiniera, my favourite from their stable). I don’t think there was any one moment over that period where they suddenly and very unexpectedly switched into a higher gear, the wines have been very consistent throughout. Maybe the rest of the world was just somewhat slow taking notice.

Having just visited there on Saturday (along with visits to Vietti and Bartolo Mascarello on the same day), I can say that Gianluca Grasso is an utter perfectionist. I have rarely ever met someone who is more anal than me about details, and this guy takes the cake easily. The estate is impeccable in every detail.

I have noticed the same thing. While I have tried their wines a few times in the past and been quite impressed, I certainly don’t know enough to make that kind of critical evaluation.

That said, I’ll be there next week meeting with Gianluca and tasting through some stuff in person, so I hope to investigate further…

LOL – Eric beat me to it, literally and figuratively…

I think the scores are driving perception. Sadly, it should be the opposite, but Galloni’s influence on the Piedmont hierarchy has been gathering steam over the last few years.

This is not a criticism of the wines, which I believe are excellent (except the riserva, which is not to my tastes).

Only one data point, but I was not a fan of the 2008 Ginestra Case Mate that they poured at La Festa del Barolo (although admittedly it was poured in pretty stiff company).

Eric or Kevin,

Can you message me the name, e mail address, and town. I’m in the area early next week, and would like to set up a tasting. Can you provide a few words about the tasting. Private? With others? Thanks very much.

I don’t think they have “moved” up. I think they’ve been “there” for a long time.

When I visited Piemonte in 2004 and tasted at 15+ places in Barolo and Barbaresco, it was Ellio Grasso in Barolo (particularly the Chiniera) and Sottimano in Barbaresco that blew me away. When I got back to the US, I bought the 1996-1998-1999-2000-2001 Grasso vintages by the case. (one of each). I was that impressed. (And, some of their other wines, too: Barbera, Langhe nebbiolo and, the barbera of Sottimano, which I continue to buy.)

My esteem for both of these producers has only grown since then. Maybe it’s based on those wines, but I have tasted more recent ones, too, though I haven’t bought much since then. (I stopped buying wines in 2007-8 for the most part.)

I wasn’t expecting this at either place, and was very open-minded about the purported “traditional vs. modern” style of producers. I visited some stars of both…but…

I’d be surprised if Grasso has gotten that much better. It would be hard to.

I think it has been good for a long time also. But it seems to me that it is moving to a higher level.


People were distracted.

Elio’s 1989 Barolos on release were very strong in a group of very strong wines and continue to perform very well today. Gianluca has nailed down the style quite well over the past few vintages, but i am more prone to say that Grasso’s wines were less consistent and had some experimentation related weakness now and then, but the quality has been there in the past as well.

When did they leave the hierarchy?

I think Greg pretty much nailed it. I’ve love Grasso since I started buying the 2000 vintage. At the time, I just thought they wouldn’t age so well because of the vintage I joined in on with them. Now having seen these wines through another 10 vintages (and tasting a number of their older wines), I have to believe that the quality was always there, but a recent spark in interest has brought them to the forefront. I remember Galloni was saying something about the quality level rising in the late 90’s into 2000’s–but I find that even their older wines are incredible.

The short answer is no, they should not be considered one of the best Barolo producers. And I don’t say that as a put down. They are good/ very good and maybe trending up. But I don’t think they belong on the short list for the “best”.

List the best, please.

One of the most impressive and beautiful wineries I have visited, great horseshoe cellar. Also offer a very generous Antipasta with the tasting. Great people.

All very well and good. But that doesn’t make them one of the “best” producers. I think we could come up with a list of the top 6-8 pretty easily.

I think a consensus top list would look something like this, although modernists might disagree:

B Mascarello
G Mascarello
G Rinaldi
Giacosa (pre 2009)

I think the second tier would include Brovia, Grasso, Vajra, Cavallotto, Burlotto etc etc