The Elio Grasso Estate is sited in the municipality of Monforte d’Alba. It is made up of 42 hectares, of which 24 hectares are forests and meadows that border their 18 hectares of vineyards, all within the World Heritage site. The vineyards themselves were included within the great historian, Lorenzo Fantini, ‘world’s greatest vineyards’ in the early 20th century, highlighted as great then and now great in posterity. Indeed, the Grasso family have been instrumental in establishing Monforte d’Alba as one of the finest sub-regions in Barolo and their Cru holdings Gavarini Chiniera and Ginestra, are majestic examples of the finest terroir in the world.
Elio Grasso was sent to school in Turin by his father, who gave him orders to work hard and not come back to the struggling post war Langhe life. He did just this, advancing into a successful career in banking. Though eventually the call of his family as leading grape grower brought him home to the rolling hills of Barolo. In 1978 he established the eponymous Elio Grasso Estate in the township of Monforte d’Alba and he and his son Gianluca, who joined in the early 90s set to creating a wine dynasty. Indeed, they decided immediately to vinify and bottle grapes separately from their various vineyards.
During the period since, Barolo has had a transformational 30 years. Which begun with a handful of winemakers introducing French oak and shorter maceration times, coining the modernist winemakers and the ‘Barolo Wars’. There became two waves of winemakers, the traditionalists and the modernists. The traditionalists use large Slovenian oak casks and produce wines with big tannins and beguiling aromas, requiring longer ageing, with noticeable spice aromas such as cinnamon. The modern winemakers use rotary fermenters and shorter maceration times; they also use much smaller new French oak barrique (225 litres). As a result, the wines tend to have oak, vanilla and toast flavours, are more fruit forward and can be consumed younger. Though the factions to some extent still exist, the lines have blurred and wine lovers have benefited from a middle way. Elio Grasso arrived and stayed clear of the conflict yet saw the potential of modernisation thereon investing heavily in technology yet keeping a traditional style. As such, Elio Grasso straddles the two schools beautifully, famous for being aromatic, exhibiting class and stunning finesse.