La Casaccia Grignolino Poggeto 2016
Here is the nature of Italian wine for me. Lots of miss. Very few hits. And then when the hits come, they come in bunches. And one day early in 2017 I met this guy...
Giovanni Rava greeted me with a wide smile, buried under his scraggly beard, and pumped my hand vigorously. His English was pretty good, but he didn't think so, and we eventually lapsed into French. Giovanni and his wife are agronomists, having met in Turin during University, and eventually taking over her family's home and vineyard near Casale Monferrato. Their place, all of it--cellar, vineyards, house-- is simply fantastic.
Twenty years ago Giovanni and his wife Elena Bassignana acquired an 18th centuryvabandoned villa named La Casaccia (almost literally translated as "that shitty little house") and gradually restored the main building and brought back into production the impressive subterranean cellar excavated into the local volcanic rock. The cellar was soon equipped with a line of stainless steel tanks and a bottling unit, and the vineyard converted to organic farming.
And their wines...spot on. The visit began at 10am and at 3:30 we still remained at the dining table, satiated with lunch, and lots of open (and empty) bottles on the table. I thought Giovanni's Barberas were wonderful, his sparkling wine a real keeper, and his whites as good as anything I've ever tasted in Piedmont.
And then we came to this wine--a pure Grignolino from his elevation plot, about 450 meters high, just above the village from his winery. Grignolino is uniquely Piedmontese, grown a little bit in Asti, with the rest here in Monferrato di Casalese where it is recognized with its own DOC.
Grignolino has lots of seeds, and as such very little juice. Also the skins are very thin but quite tough. Yet the resulting wine is anything but an ugly picture. I liken it to Pinot Noir on steroids--a lighter color, and a big perfume, and then in the mouth a nice chewy texture.
There's really no bad time for a cool glass of this little beauty--while you're cooking, during the meal, or as part of the clean up. You'll come back to this unique Piemontese wine again and again.