2016 Bibi Graetz, Grilli, Toscana IGT Rosso, Italy.
The juicy almost carbonic fruity Bibi Graetz Grilli is a super Tuscan red blend from vineyards around Greve in Chianti Classico, close to Siena and in the 2016 vintage it consisted of about 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah. The area, mostly known for Sangiovese also has lots of international varietals growing along side the native grapes and are set on Galestro and clay soils that brings out a dense richness of fruit and ripe dark flavors. Bibi Graetz, who is a famous Italian/Norwegian artist and Tuscan vigneron, has created one of the regions most prized Italian wineries in the last 15 years and has produced some iconic wines, especially his Testamata, his flagship wine, a 100% Sangiovese wine from old vines. The winery started at Castello di Vincigliata, which was acquired by Bibi’s parents over 60 years ago, and is the base where Graetz crafts his wines, is located on a hillside overlooking the picturesque city of Florence. Graetz’s Testamata legend began here with this small 5-acre vineyard in Fiesole. In Viola (Florence) dialect to have “Grilli” (which translates to crickets in Italian) means to be a dreamer, which fits well with Graetz’s personality. This wine, that was 100% fermented and aged in steel vats to preserve the freshness, was born from the partnership with Mondavi, through the import arm, reflects, as the winery puts it, the creative style and the dynamism of Bibi Graetz, who also is known for a sly sense of humor and playfulness. It should also be noted too, Grilli is different from the norm for Bibi, who broke his own rule and made a wine without indigenous Tuscan grapes, using mostly Bordeaux grapes, mostly Cabernet and Merlot, adding too that bit of Syrah, all which have found a home in Chianti and the Tuscan Coast.

Recently a friend of mine brought this wine in to try as he had found it at a Grocery Outlet for under $10 a bottle, and knowing the brand and having had these Graetz wines since the beginning I knew he had found an insane deal, but I hadn’t had this Grilli before, so it took me by surprise with its soft roundness and easy fruitiness and the fact that Graetz is almost fanatical about using indigenous and historic regional grapes in his wines. So after a bit of confusion, I settled in to just enjoy this tank raised Tuscan red, which offers loads of basic drinking pleasures with a pure sense flavors and medium bodied comfort with an array of black, blue and red fruits and a creamy mouth feel, with just enough tannin and acidity to make it easy with cuisine. There is simple layering of blackberry, candied cherry, tangy currant and fresh picked plum fruits, a touch of pipe tobacco, sprigs of garden herbs and a hint of mocha. This no oak wine, imported now by Michael Mondavi’s Folio Fine Wine Partners, made for the US market is another value offering from Graetz and is very much in the international and clean style, but certainly a contrast to some of the other bottlings in the lineup. I like this wine, hence the Wine of the Day review, but I really love Graetz’s more true native stuff, like his awesome Soffocone di Vincigliata, that is 100% Sangiovese and the stylish Colore Rosso that is special barrel selection made of Sangiovese, Colorino and Canaiolo, as well as the mentioned Testamata. Tasty and smooth, this Grilli is a solid bistro wine that will satisfy most wine drinkers and will go nicely with picnics, pasta and burgers. Graetz has remained a cult producer, an under the radar label, but now with Folio, you should be able to find them more easy, and their Casamata line and this Grilli are a good way to get started.
($28 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

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