A visit to Azienda Agricola Silvio Grasso (10th July 2014)

It is a pleasure to visit the Azienda Agricola Silvio Grasso: it is a wonderful example of a family run estate and of a perfect synergy between the members of the family. Alessio Federico, the present owner, passed his passion and dedication to his two sons, Paolo and Silvio, and has always been supported by his wife Marilena, who is also an excellent cook!

 

THE HISTORY AND THE FAMILY

The estate was established in 1927, but the whole grape production started being vinified and bottled only in mid 1980s by Alessio Federico who took over the management from his father Silvio.

Since 1980 the vineyard extension was increased from 4.5 hectares to the 14 hectares of today.

Alessio Federico’s elder son, Paolo, is 33 years old and has been working at the estate for three years. He studied at the Scuola Enologica di Alba (School of oenology of Alba) and he then graduated at the University of Turin in Food Technology. He worked for various enterprises in the food safety sector for seven years.

Silvio, Paolo’s younger brother, is 27 years old and studied at the Agricultural Institute of Alba. He has been working at the family estate for 15 years.

Silvio prefers to work in the vineyards while Paolo follows the work in the cellar.

 

THE VINEYARDS

All the vineyards stand within the commune of La Morra. Bricco Luciani and Bricco Manzoni are the historical crus of La Morra and of the estate.

Bricco Luciani: the extension is 1.5 hectares. The soil is clayey. The vines were planted in 1982. The wines made from Bricco Luciani are well balanced and very fruity.

Bricco Manzoni: the extension is 0.7 hectares. The soil is clayey-calcarous, the vines were planted in 1968. The wines have great structure and are ideal for ageing.

Annunziata Vigna Plicotti: the extension is 1 hectare. This vineyard was purchased in 2000 which was also the first released vintage of Barolo Plicotti. The soil is clayey, the vineyard was planted in 1982. The wines are well balanced and very fruity.

Giachini: the extension is 1 hectare. The soil composition is sandstone and marl/limestone. These vineyards were planted in 1975.

The wines are well balanced with an elegant bouquet.

The Dolcetto vineyards: the extension is 2 hectares of which 1.5 hectares in Roddino (approximately 17 kilometres from La Morra and a zone renowned for the production of Dolcetto) and 0.5 hectares in La Morra. The exposure is south-east, the soil is calcareous. The vines were planted in 1988 in La Morra while the vineyards in Roddino were rented by the Grasso family in 2000.

The Barbera vineyards (for the production of Barbera d’Alba DOC – matured in steel): the extension is 1.5 hectares in La Morra. The exposure is south. The soil is calcareous. The grape yield is 8 tons/hectare. The vines were planted in 1985.

Fontanile vineyard for the production of Barbera d’Alba DOC Fontanile (matured in barriques for 18 months): the extension is 0.5 hectares in La Morra. The exposure is south-west. The soil is calcareous/clayey. The grape yield is 8 tons/hectare. The vines were planted in 1979.

 

THE TYPE OF VITICULTURE PRACTICED

Sulphur and copper base products are mainly used. Sustainable viticulture is followed and there is great care for agronomic practices (in order to minimize spraying). The balance between the canopy and the fruit of the vines is maintained. The major part of the work is manual and the type of operations in the vineyards vary depending on the vintage.

Integrated pest management is followed with the support of consultants. The use of chemical weed killers is substituted by leaving grass cover on the aisles between the rows of vines (for example clover is sown) or by tilling the aisles or by mowing the grass on the aisles mechanically.

 

THE CELLAR

The vinification: rotary fermenters and steel vats with temperature control are used. The type of vessel depends on the vintage and on the wine.

The wines mature in large Slavonian oak casks (of a capacity of 10-30-40-50 hectolitres) and in French oak barriques (medium toast, grain fin), 30% of the barriques are new.

The first part of the cellar dates back to 1978, in 1990 an underground cellar, where the bottles of Barolo are stored, was built. In 2004 an area for fermentation and an area for bottling and labelling were added.

 

THE VINIFICATION AND THE AGEING OF THE WINES

The fermentation takes place in steel utilising rotary fermenters or steel vessels with an automatic system for pumping over the must (the choice of the type of vessel depends on the wine and on the vintage).

Two different kinds of maceration with the skins are carried out: a short maceration (7-10 days) and a long maceration (40 days).

The wine matures either in steel or in wood (French oak barriques and large Slavonian oak casks).

 

THE PHILOSOPHY

Federico is an enthusiast and he loves his work. But Federico is also a traditionalist. He works with great passion and determination in the vineyards and in the cellar. He passed all this on to his sons. “I respect my father”, Paolo tells us. “he is a man of sound principles. He continues to be passionate about his work, he believes in it….I hope that in the future we will be able to continue being a simple and family run estate with strong ties to its terroir…”

 

UNESCO

On the 22nd of June 2014, the Langhe area together with the Roero and Monferrato areas was included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage.

La Morra is one of the communes of the Langhe that was included in this list.

For more information you can visit the following website: http://www.paesaggivitivinicoli.it/index.php/en/

 

THE WINES

Barolo DOCG Bricco Manzoni

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo

Vineyard extension: 0.5 hectares

Average production/year: 3,000 bottles

 

Barolo DOCG Bricco Luciani

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo

Vineyard extension: 1.5 hectares

Average production/year: 6,000 bottles

 

Barolo DOCG Giachini

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo

Vineyard extension: 0.5 hectares

Average production/year: 2,500 bottles

 

Barolo DOCG Annunziata Vigna Plicotti

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo

Vineyard extension: 1 hectare

Average production/year: 4,000 bottles

 

Barolo DOCG Turnè

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo

Vineyard extension: 0.5 hectares

Average production/year: 3,000 bottles

 

Barolo DOCG

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo

Vineyard extension: 1.5 hectares

Average production/year: 10,000 bottles

 

Barbera d’Alba DOC

Varietal: 100% Barbera

Vineyard extension: 1.5 hectares

Average production/year: 12,000 bottles

 

Barbera d’Alba DOC Fontanile

Varietal: 100% Barbera

Vineyard extension: 0.5 hectares

Average production/year: 3,500 bottles

 

Langhe DOC Dolcetto

Varietal: 100% Dolcetto

Vineyard extension: 1.5 hectares

Average production/year: 8,000 bottles

 

Langhe DOC Nebbiolo

Varietal: 100% Nebbiolo

Average production/year: 20,000 bottles

 

Langhe Rosso DOC

Varietal: 33% Nebbiolo, 33% Merlot, 33% Syrah

Vineyard extension: 0.5 hectares

Average production/year: 3,000 bottles

 

L’Insieme

Varietal: 40% Nebbiolo, 20% Merlot, 20% Barbera, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon

Vineyard extension: 0.7 hectares

Average production/year: 1,500 bottles