Wine Spectator 92: "Cherry, plum, earth and spice flavors are the themes in this ripe, round red. Balanced, staying focused on the fruit through the long finish. Best from 2021 through 2035."
Robert Parker 92+: "This is a new wine that was only made in this vintage to address low yields and difficult growing conditions. In truth, it was also produced in 2002 for the same reasons. The 2014 Barolo is a blend of Nebbiolo grapes from the Grasso family's best vineyard sites: Casa Maté and Gavarini Chiniera. In a very happy and nostalgic way, this wine brings us back in time to when Barolo was more streamlined and linear in style. The limestone-rich soils of Gavarini Chiniera give the wine its aromatic profile with delicate tones of wild berry and blue flower. The Casa Maté site provides the robust texture and structure you taste here. This wine was designed to be offered at a lower price point (that's great news for us!). It offers an accessible personality that makes it easy to enjoy at your favorite Italian restaurant. I put the plus sign next to my score to underline the value you get here.
Gianluca Grasso was the first producer I visited this spring in preparation for this article. I was deeply influenced by his careful words and his recounting of what must have been a very difficult decision regarding the 2014 vintage. The Grasso family decided not to make single-vineyard expressions in 2014. Instead, they blended their cru fruit (Casa Maté and Gavarini Chiniera) into a single expression of Barolo that they set at a slightly more accessible price point. With the frankness and honesty that I have come to greatly appreciate over the years, Gianluca says he failed to convince himself that 2014 could ever be up to the standards he aspires to. He knew he was taking a big risk, but he also needed to be honest with himself. Instead of the top-shelf wines I usually review, I am very excited to recommend the fabulous value 2014 Barolo that you can pick up from this venerated estate. When I left the Grasso property to continue my intense schedule of appointments and tastings, I expected to meet countless other producers who had made the same decision as Gianluca. I anticipated many "base" Barolos in 2014 in the place of the various single-vineyard expressions I taste on any other given year. I was (and still am) surprised to learn that Gianluca Grasso represents a small, small minority. The majority of producers I met with all made their single-vineyard wines in 2014—and most did a terrific job with them. By the end of my trip, I came to appreciate the delicate nuances and elegance of Nebbiolo in 2014. My expectation that more producers would have followed in Grasso's cautionary footsteps turned out to be misguided. The lesson learned, of course, is that each producer must recognize or embrace the limits (or the advantages) of any given vintage. Each must take his or her own road. Barolo cannot be painted in broad brush strokes. If you are wondering about the Barolo Riserva Rüncot, the next vintage made is 2013 (to be released in 2020). This top-shelf wine was also made in 2015 and 2016."
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