Alemat Monferace Grignolino 2016
I think Savio Dominici might be selling himself short. His own winery, called Alemat (a Piemontese slang for "You're CRAZY!"), is pretty darn impressive. Only 10 years into his wine career, Savio is turning out an exceptional product. His Barbera are powerful and dark wines, filled with richness and structure. His Croatina is fine and Burgundian. But, it his Grignolino that for my money, steals the show.
His participation in the group of 11 producers that produce Monferace--a tribute to the Grignolino of old, is a true feather in this winemaker's cap. Here is what the Monferace producer's association has to say about Grignolino:
For others it would be related to the expression “grigné”, in Piedmontese it means smile, because the expression that is drawn on the face of those who drink it because of the tannins is that of a smile. The scholar Enza Cavallero has reconstructed and told the story of the Grignolino. According to the studies of Cavallero, the first written document in which the Grignolino is mentioned, like Berbexinius, is a deed of rent dated 1249, transcripted by the monks of the Chapter of Sant’Evasio in Casale Monferrato. And still in 1337 the inventory of wines from the Abbey of San Giusto in Susa mentioned the presence of “Grignolerii” wine.
Savio checked out of a career in heavy industry (pipe fittings) and began his small winery near Asti with a head of steam and scientific bent. His winery is simple, clean, and magnificent. On the ground floor is an infernot, a sort of hollowed out cave that are famous in the area. It was excavated in the 1850's and used for wine storage. Lots of farmhouses have them, and they are valued now as Unesco heritage sites. People come from all around to tour these by bicycle.
Savio's infernot is home to a salamander named Sally. I didn't spot her, but she hides for most of the winter. Kind of like Alemat has been hiding from the general public. But not anymore!