I guess sometimes it doesn't matter if people don't know what grapes you use in a wine, as long as it is a great one. The thought occurred to me earlier this week when Elisabetta Foradori came for dinner at my house, and we tasted some of her "top-of-the-charts" wines : 1997 and 1991 Granato. I should say "drank" instead of "tasted" because it was with dinner and the wines were so, so good.
Have you heard of Teroldego? Have you ever drunk one?
Granato is Elisabetta's flagship red. It's 100 percent Teroldego, the popular grape grown under the shadow of the Dolomite Mountains in Trentino. Most of the grapes are fermented by massive cooperatives that pay the small grape growers based on quantity, not quality. The wines are simple and fruity, if drinkable at all.
Elisabetta is sort of an anamoly in the area. In her 50 or so acres of vineyards, she keeps her grape yields to a minimum. The vineyard near her winery is kept like a rose garden. Every vine seems to be in perfect condition. So Granato is always a wonderful bottle to drink.
I love the balance and polish that Granato has. I don't want to sound sexist, but they really do have a beautiful, feminine touch to them. They are subtle and refined yet firm and structured. I know you have heard the cliché so many times, but Granato really does reflect the power and beauty of its winemaker. Elisabetta is a single mother of four who climbs mountains and helicopter snow skies in a her spare time. Most of the time, anyway, she is working in her vineyards and cellar when she is not being a mom.
Anyway, I found my last bottle of the amazing 1997 Granato in my cellar, and a friend brought a bottle of the great 1991 from his. Meanwhile, Elisabetta brought a bottle of the soon-to-be-released 2006 Granato. I haven't tasted the latter yet officially for the magazine.
Here are my tasting notes:
1991 Granato: Dried red fruit, tar, tarmac, minerals and cold. Medium-bodied, with a super freshness. Long and amazing. This must be one of the best 1991s ever. This was fermented in a large wooden vat with no technology, but what a wine. Real stuff. 93, non-blind
1997 Granato: This smells of dark berries and black truffles. Full and chewy yet caressing and pretty. This is so fresh and long. Minerally and powerful. Balanced and beautiful. Only getting better. 97 points, non-blind.
2006 Granato: This is a super-refined and beautiful wine. Best after 2007. Of outstanding quality.
It was a fun dinner with lots of good wine and conversation. Elisabetta also brought the 2005 vintage of her Tuscan wine, Ampeleia. It shows lots of berry, cherry and Cabernet Franc character. It's medium-bodied, with lovely fruit. Silky and very pretty. It's of outstanding quality. It's primarily Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with a dash of Southern Rhône varietals such as Grenache and Mouvedere. Look out for it.