I had a good feeling about our scheduled tastings at Elio Grasso and Aldo Conterno, both of which were late additions to my schedule. Fortunately my premonition was correct. This was one great day of wine visits.
We started on a crisp and clear Piemonte morning at Elio Grasso, just outside the small town of Monforte d'Alba. Wow, what an impressive property. Everything from start to finish was fantastic - our host, the wine making facility, the old house, the views of the valley and the young wines poured for us. The style is purity and balance. I immediately fell in love with these wines. This was definitely a memorable visit and I will buy, cellar and enjoy the wines of Elio Grasso for years to come.
The memory of my visit to Elio Grasso was further enhanced by the fact that my top wine of the entire trip was the 2008 Elio Grasso Gavarini Vigna Chiniera from our dinner at Bovio in La Morra. The wine was not available for sale at Elio Grasso as it was completely sold out. I bought 6 of these upon my return to the States and look forward to following its development.
Our afternoon appointment was with Aldo Conterno and this was another special, special visit. The facility looks something like a French chateau - it is huge and artfully designed. We started with the recent Dolcetto and Barbera and then we were treated to the full range of the 2008 Baroli and they were all very impressive. I find the style to be a good balance between ultra traditional and modern. The hospitality at Aldo Conterno was top-notch and the generosity was humbling. The wine making facility was absolutely spotless - the same was true for Elio Grasso.
Dinner on this night was at La Libera in Alba. It was easily the most disappointing meal of the entire trip - by a large margin. I picked this restaurant based upon strong feedback from the wine boards including favorable commentary from Antonio Galloni and several other recent visitors to the area. The service was terrible, the wine list lacking and the food was unimpressive. A highly disappointing way to end an otherwise excellent day in Piemonte. I even heard people at breakfast in our hotel talk about how this was a can't miss place. Boy were they all wrong.