Grasso Nebbiolo, New Hope & Currier and Ives
Last month, for my birthday, Joanne planned a romantic weekend away for the two of us in my favorite little town of New Hope, PA. Joanne and I have always loved exploring the bucolic countryside between Bucks County, PA and Hunterdon County, NJ. In both courtship and matrimony, the rolling banks of the Delaware have offered Joanne and me a refuge from the “real world,” a chance to catch up on sleep. And most importantly the opportunity to reflect and dream without interruption or distraction.
Serendipitously, we always find ourselves there in the winter when all the cozy little towns dotting the Delaware in their frozen and fragile state, are as still, splendid and enchanting as a Currier and Ives print. Hand in hand, she and I sip espresso as we walk along the uneven New Hope streets flanked by Federal style facades. Later savoring cocktails underneath the shadows of Late Victorians in Lambertville, time begins to dawdle about life’s own icy design. And for a moment … maybe a weekend, Joanne and I gently press ourselves into the picturesque lithograph.
For these weekend getaways, we usually try to arrive at our destination early Friday evening. For this trip, Joanne booked a cottage through Airbnb. The cottage was implausibly perfect, detached about 200 feet from the property’s magnificent Main House, and painted to match. The cottage stood in diminutive perfection, adorned with seasonally withered wisteria. Inside, the space was expertly decorated with a tasteful and comforting Southwest motif meets Arts and Crafts revival theme. It looked and lived like a structure that a stylish hobbit would live in, or a well-heeled hobbit who reads a lot of Architectural Digest.
Once we unpacked, and shook off the awe of our surroundings, it was time for a drink. I had packed a number of wines for the trip, as BYOBs are plentiful in this part of the world. As Joanne will attest, about the only thing I’m prepared for in life is a town full of BYOBs. However, to toast the start of our weekend, I wanted something as warming, snug and simple as our new digs, and as comforting as Joanne’s head resting on my shoulder.
Everything was right in the world. I opened a bottle of Elio Grasso, Nebbiolo Gavarini 2018. I poured two glasses. I looked at Joanne, and we smiled at each other. We took a sip. Our world an hour away was in frantic motion. Yet, nestled inside our storybook cottage, a hallow satellite adrift on the Pennsylvania countryside, time was dilating. All of life’s hard edges, were now softly rounded brush strokes.
When you look at pictures of Elio Grasso’s winery perched atop the sun gilded hills of Monforte d’Alba in Northern Italy’s esteemed Barolo zone, it too appears to be a place lifted from an artist’s easel. A rendering of reality where time appears to stands still. If only Currier and Ives were around today … Piedmont Edition. Grasso’s wines, like the property itself, do not merely evoke emotions and memory they imprint them on the taster.
Elio, the patriarch of the family, handed over the wine making and operational duties to his son Gianluca more than 15 years ago, and the wines continue to ascend to new levels of greatness. It’s hard to overstate the quality of wine produced at the estate. Recently, Monica Larner of the Wine Advocate, bestowed a rare 100-point score upon Grasso’s 2013 Barolo Riserva Runcot. Adding, “I found my darling wine of the year.”
Grasso’s Barolos are stunning. But it’s the family’s humble Langhe Nebbiolo offering Gavarini that I find myself coming back to time and again for everyday enjoyment. It’s affordable, “correct” and delicious. A wine to meditate with while waiting for the family’s Barolos, Gavarini Chiniera, Ginestra Casa Mate and Runcot to age into form. Monic Larner notes, “The 2018 Langhe Nebbiolo Gavarini offers a very happy drinking experience with pure varietal typicity that underlines wild berry, cola, mint and licorice (91pts).” A very happy drinking experience indeed. Good Nebbiolo, like Grasso’s 2018 Gavarini bottling has always been my winter weekend getaway wine.
A female acquaintance of mine once told me that being in love with someone means you simply can’t get enough of that person, “you simply want to be together all the time.” If this assumption holds true, then I’m certainly in love with Grasso’s 2018 Langhe Nebbiolo Gavarini, New Hope and especially Joanne. And for at least a weekend there is no parting, no sorrow, no time.