2019 Montefiorito, Grignolino, Piemonte DOC, Italy.
The debut release of the Montefiorito Piemonte DOC Grignolino (2019) is translucent ruby, limpid and whisper light colored in the glass, looking like squeezed strawberries, with a delicate floral nose and snappy spices with a light/medium bodied palate, which is a bit riper than expected, via the hot vintage and a crisp minerally note adds to the complexity here with tart cherry, an echo of strawberry, brambly raspberry and a touch of guava fruits, bitter herbs, a touch rose petal, celery root and a hint of smokiness. There is taut edginess and raw character that gives a crunchy feel and at 14% natural alcohol, it’s not as delicate as it would appear on first sip, the chill (on the bottle) helps make things more playful and fun, best to have this with food as well. Definitely on the more serious side for the Grignolino grape, which makes this one a touch more interesting and merits attention, it continued to evolve during the evening and over the next day quite nicely and I found myself enjoying far more than I thought, and I am curious to how other vintages of Montefiorito Piemonte DOC Grignolino might compare, especially a cooler year. The Grignolino grapes were de-stemmed and fermented in steel on the skins, with a gentle maceration, for close to 2 weeks, then interestingly the wine is aged for 6-8 months in 750 liter amphorae, which explains the textural quality, purity and clarity in the wine.
The Grignolino grape, commonly grown here in the Piemonte region, who’s name Grignolino was derived from the local Piedmontese dialect word grignole that translates to “many pips” in the Asti region, and originally is native to the Monferrato hills located between the towns of Asti and Casale, where it makes for light reds and rosé wines. While not as popular as it once was, many enjoyed Grignolino for its bright freshness and served slightly chilled, like Beaujolais and wines like the Jura’s Poulsard, also very light in color, it makes for a nice Summer time red and can even be paired with fish and poultry dishes. My own first experiences with Grignolino, interestingly came via Napa’s famous Heitz Wine Cellars, who had a rare plot of this grape and make a tasty and exceptionally rare version, which contrasts greatly with their iconic powerful Cabernet Sauvignons! Grignolino, again, is really not too popular or common outside of Piemonte and is quite difficult to grow too as it is finicky like Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo, though doesn’t get that kind of return in monetary terms. Again like Pinot, Grignolino is highly prone to mutation, creating a significant amount of clonal variation and is terroir driven, maybe best suited on the marl (limestone) and sandy soils here near Asti. These different clones of Grignolino, which are know identified in the vines, can influence the aromas and flavors greatly, with some seeing green herbal/leafy character, a bit like here, or more bubble gum fruity. Montefiorito also make Nebbiolo, Barbera and Arneis, all that see Amphora, and are certainly worth checking out.
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive