2008 Elio Grasso Dolcetto d'Alba dei Grassi

Elio Grasso Dolcetto d'Alba dei Grassi

The vineyards owned by the Grasso family are the estate's greatest assets. The area where they are located has always been considered outstanding wine country. If you've never visited the vineyards and wine towns of Piedmont, and the sloping hills that form a sort of bowl on which the magnificent vineyards of Barolo reside, you need to. Each village is distinct with varied soil types and expositions.

The style of the wines of Piedmont are probably more varied than any of the world's great wine regions. La Morra and Barolo have more clayey soil, typically offering softer wines. Serralunga's highly mineral south facing vineyards provide the most structured wine. Monforte, with its sandy, calcareous soil, has both power and warmth. This is not only home to some of the greatest red wines of the world, but to an incredibly spirited, innovative band of winemakers.

Of this band, Elio and Gianluca Grasso are two of our perennial favorites. On a recent trip to Piedmont, when we visited Elio and Gianluca, we were blown away by their richness, aromatics, and perfect acid balance of their wines, from the Barolo down to this elegant 2008 Dolcetto. One key is the vineyards themselves: this high-altitude, varietal Dolcetto comes from one acre of rich limestone and marl soil.

But the influence of the winemaker matters too. Winemaking techniques run the gamut in Piedmont -- from softer ultra-modern wines (these seem to be on the way out) to hard, aromatic, earthy examples. The best examples are in the middle, and no producer in the region seems to better marry fine aromatics with explosive fruit than Elio Grasso. When we asked why, in each vintage tasted, the wines seemed in perfect balance, Elio led us off the terrace to the first row of vines beneath the cantina. Bending forward, he scooped up a big handful of earth. He poured the sandy, calcareous soil through our fingers. He smiled and said, "Monforte."

Elio Grasso Estate
Elio Grasso Estate
The 2008 Dolcetto is really singing right now. With 20 minutes of air, this wine kicks into gear. Deep red in color, with intense purple fruit and forest floor aromas. Great ripe plum and blackberry flavors accentuated by spice on the palate. Richly texture, with plenty of soft tannins on the finish.

A great food wine...what doesn't go with this. A breaded veal chop in the pan would do this wine well.