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Woman on the Verge of a Glass of Wine

Friday, April 30, 2010

An Education

The windy weather we've been experiencing in LA has me a little off balance, and a bit freaked out really. I'm always a bit jumpy when it's like this. Every time the wind shakes the windows in my house, or rattles the retractable patio roof at Lucques, I feel my heart jump and my body stiffen. It's not that I have a fear of the roof blowing off, but there is just something about a windy night that puts me on edge. Frankly, it's the kind of weather that drives me to drink.

To calm my nerves on this blustery evening, I decided to drink a glass of the 2008 Elio Grasso Langhe Chardonnay, Educato. I've had this sample bottle for a couple of weeks now but just didn't have the opportunity to taste it until right now. I tend to like Chardonnays from Italy, as they usually have less fruitiness and higher acidity than that of new world regions. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against domestic Chardonnay. I just prefer the ones that shy away from the oak and butter profile.

I was actually pretty excited to taste this wine as I've been a long time fan of Elio Grasso's reds. The Grasso's have been in the region for generations, but it wasn't until the early 1980's that the family decided to revisit their roots as grape growers in the highly-regarded Monforte d'Alba region of Piemonte. Their main wine production centers around the traditional varieties of the area, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. In 1986, they added a small plot of the non-native Chardonnay in order to coax, or as they call it, "educate" their area's terroir into and out of the variety. They are meticulous in the vineyards and in the cellar, vinifying and bottling each variety from each vineyard separately. For the Chardonnay, they initially ferment in French oak barrique. Then, after malolactic fermentation in stainless steel, they move the wine into new French oak for seven months of aging.

This is not a bright, fresh light wine, but is rather more serious than that. It reminds me quite a bit of a Burgundy with some bottle age on it, where the fruit has matured and the oak softened, giving way to a wine of elegance and developed maturity. It has a deep and exotic nose of freshly grated ginger and ripe pineapple. On the palate, it shows notes of yellow nectarine and golden raisin mingled with a rich nuttiness and a balancing acidity that leads to a long finish. It has an oily texture and weightiness that highlight it's perfume of drying rose petals. Much like the Grasso Nebbiolo, it has a beautiful minerality running through it that is no doubt responsible for its elegance and complexity.

I've actually had a few glasses of this wine over the last few days and each time I taste it, my feeling about it is confirmed. I'm getting ready to open the second sample bottle that I have, just to reconfirm. If this is the education that the Grasso's are giving, then enroll me in more classes.


  1. HA! I hear you on the wind thing. With all this earth shaking happening around the globe I get jumpy. And I love an excuse to justify an extra glass of wine:)

  2. Bubbles HATES this wind, but so far she hasn't taken to drinking...

    Youre descriptions are amazing! I'm going to use that nose of ginger and yellow nectarine on the exam :)