2009 ELIO GRASSO “EDUCATO” LANGHE CHARDONNAYBy
Turning Heads, Changing Minds (Mine, At Least)
I’ve got a pretty good deal when it comes to tasting Italian wines. A very close friend, Gwyneth Hogarth, is the bar manager at Prima, a sublime local Italian ristorante. My wife and I go in there, and the Italian wine flows. It’s why I, a Californian of Irish, German, and Portuguese descent, have spilled so much ink on the grape juice of Italia.
I especially dig Italian takes on chardonny. The “I Sistri” is from Tuscany, but this, the “Educato,” is from Piemonte.
But back to the ristorante…
In the dim lustre of a fine Italian eatery like Prima, there are few things I like better than great red Italian wine. Barolo. Brunello di Montalcino. Chianti Classico. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. There’s something about the classic red wine flavors, the robusto, the machismo, of the big reds of Piemonte and Tuscany that go so well with not just the food, but the downright sexiness of a great ristorante.
But, whenever I head out to this particular spot, Gwyn always insists I try a white wine or two. Or three. Or four. She’s good like that.
So here I am, staring at a bottle of “Langhe Chardonnay,” whatever that it. I mean, obviously, it’s chardonnay. But Langhe Chardonnay? As it turns out, Langhe Chardonnay is a DOC designation in the region of Cuneo, part of Piemonte. And, as it turns out…
First off, what kind of chardonnay drinker are you? (Assuming, of course, that you are one to begin with.) Normally, I like my chardonnays unoaked. Chablis style. I’m not a fan of over-extracted secondary ML Cali monsters. In general.
Now, perhaps, I have to rethink any kind of blanket opinions I have about chard. The Educato goes through malolactic fermentation, and spends seven months in new French oak.
Seven months. In new French oak.
And it’s stunning.
Light, glistening gold in the glass. Subtle aromas on the nose, subtle subtle subtle. Butterscotch, butteriness. A touch of caramel. All of it subtle and unassuming. (I promise, I will not use the word subtle again. Maybe ever.) Elegant, light on the nose.
The Educato is full bodied, and a touch sweet. Not dessert wine, of course, but the slightest bit off-dry. Understated hints of nutmeg and honey, and a few other spicy notes open up presents on Christmas morning all up in your mouth.
The nose shows off the butter/butterscotch I expect from ML, and the palate has more of the spiciness imparted by the oak. But this works, this is good shit.
I can no longer claim my favorite chardonnays are all unoaked, Chablis-style. Not any more.
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