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  Wine Producers Issue 172, April 2018   
Tabarrini's Piantagrero: the Hidden Side of WineTabarrini's Piantagrero: the Hidden Side of Wine  Contents 
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Tabarrini's Piantagrero: the Hidden Side of Wine


 Think about a red wine. Any wine. Think about your favorite red wine or the last one you have had. Now forget it completely. The wine and grape I am about to tell you, in fact, has such unique and particular characteristics, so unique it cannot be compared to anything else. It is, talking about the grape used for its making, a variety forgotten for almost a century, rediscovered and revalued thanks to new and modern viticultural and wine making practices in order to make it a wine of absolute personality. We are in Umbria, the grape is Grero, the winery is Tabarrini, the wine is Piantagrero. The name of the wine and the particular labels used for each vintage do not betray the character and personality of its producer: non-conformist, multifaceted, volcanic and standing out from the crowd, in short, Giampaolo Tabarrini. Those who have the pleasure and privilege of knowing him, and I am one of them, will certainly agree with me, aware of the exuberance and initiative – obstinate and stubborn in perfect umbro–montefalchese style – something typical of Giampaolo Tabarrini.


 

 Ex enfant prodige of the Umbrian wine scene, Giampaolo Tabarrini is today a successful producer, one of those who has been capable of bringing Sagrantino, Montefalco, Umbria and Italian wine around the world. Tabarrini winery is not only committed to Sagrantino, of which makes four labels, but also to Trebbiano Spoletino – Adarmando, dedicated to the maternal grandfather – and, in recent years, Grero too. Autochthonous grape of Umbria, almost forgotten for about a century, Grero – which takes its name from the union of Greco and Nero (respectively, Italian for Greek and Black) – is certainly a variety of which we will hear about it again in the future. Recent studies and research, conducted by the University of Perugia and by Ciuffelli Agronomy School of Todi, have allowed the rediscovering of this variety, of which there is very little information, re-evaluated it through modern viticulture and wine making techniques. It is believed Grero is an indigenous grape of the territory of Todi – some, for this reason, call it Grero di Todi – and in the past it was quite common in the territory of Umbria.

 Giampaolo Tabarrini's meeting with Grero took place – so to speak – by pure chance. Giampaolo Tabarrini himself tells us how it happened: «The story of our Grero began in 2007 when, without knowing what it was, we find a vine in the garden of the holiday home of a lady from Rome, not very far from our winery. As it had been three years since it was last pruned, we offered our help to do that. A small part of the pruning was sent to the laboratory to identify its genetic characteristics, and in order to understand what it was, another part was sent to a nursery for propagation. From the results of the laboratory we found out it was Grero, an indigenous variety of our area, already known in the past ampelography of our territory». After having “discovered” Grero, they had to make a decision about what they could do with it. Giampaolo Tabarrini continues: «We decided how much to plant and, above all, tried to imagine what kind of wine could be obtained with Grero, also by considering the existing documentation about this grape mentioned only the characteristics of the vine, without giving any information about its wines. We knew it was a late ripening variety, with a small cluster and berries. We therefore decided to take a risks and in 2007 we planted half a hectare of Grero, and then, over time, the area has been increased to one hectare. The first harvesting was in 2013».

 Experimentation and the first harvesting allowed them to finally understand the organoleptic and sensorial qualities of Grero wine. This is what Giampaolo Tabarrini says about this: «From the organoleptic point of view it is a wine not recalling any other one. There is no reference grape that can be compared to Grero. This variety, although being a late ripening grape, makes wines with a modest alcohol volume. Even in hot years the wine had no more than 13.2% of alcohol. It has a very high acidity – far from the regional standards – and a very low PH, figures that in Umbria are not found in red wines. It has a dark, impenetrable and deep color, deeper than Sagrantino or Colorino. It has no tannins, therefore Grero wines are much appreciated for their fruit sensations and crispness». Grero is a surprising grape and, even in terms of longevity, it seems to be different from other Umbrian grapes. Giampaolo Tabarrini, in this regard, comments «What is most impressive is its longevity: because of the small quantity of wine produced, we aged the first two vintages (2013 and 2014) in barrique, something usually accelerating the aging processes of wine. 2013 vintage, after three years and a half in barrique, seems not to have undergone a significant evolution: it practically remained the same as when we put it in barrique. This makes us think about a wine not being subject to oxidation and premature decay. Time will allow us to better understand the potentials of Grero, however we are confident it is capable of making wines with a great longevity potential».

 Tasting Grero unfolds its remarkable personality and character, different from any other wine, with uncommon sensorial characteristics when compared to what you would expect from a red wine, especially Umbrian. We had the opportunity to taste, by using the “blind” method and something we always do in our tasting, the three available vintages of Tabarrini's Piantagrero – 2013, 2014 and 2015 – and the result, as well as being very promising, was also decidedly exciting. First of all, acidity: pungent, vibrant and lively, clearly a dominant and pleasing quality of Grero. Do not think about a wine that is acidic only, as Piantagrero is clearly balanced, both 2013 and 2014 vintages – aged in barrique – and 2015, exclusively aged in steel tanks. Then astringency: modest and almost imperceptible, however with a good amount of alcohol – an average of 13% – is very effective in balancing the intense acidity. Moreover, appearance: red color, redder than any red you could think of, with a virtually non existing transparency, here light can barely pass through the glass. Then, nuances: purple red – blue and purplish hues are clearly seen – even in 2013 vintage, aged for two years in barrique.

 The wonders of the Grero are expressed also to the nose, revealing a particular and unique olfactory profile. On this regard, it should be noted 2015 vintage – aged in steel tanks – obviously gives a very different wine from 2013 and 2014 vintages, aged in barrique, however expressing qualities typical and frequent in Grero. The olfactory profile has a strong fruity and floral personality, as well as revealing aromatic herbs, mineral characteristics, pleasantly reminiscent of vegetables and spices, the latter sensations can be especially perceived in vintages aged in steel tanks. An olfactory perception you would not expect in a red wine is orange which in Grero is dominant and identifying, making it unique. Finally the structure: Grero makes wines with a rather modest body, despite the fact the aging in barrique contributes to increase it substantially.

 It is hard, in any case, to tell whether Piantagrero aged in barrique is better than the one aged in steel tanks. They simply are two wines offering two distinct interpretations, both interesting for sure, despite the fact it is evident – and predictable – the aging in steel tanks gives a wine with a more vibrant acidity and a more lively olfactory freshness. On the other hand, aging in barrique contributes to the balance of the typical acidity of Grero with a rounder and warmer character, as well as more complex aromas, to the detriment of fruit and flower sensations, which are however well perceptible. A matter of taste, one could say, considering Piantagrero is a wine in evident experimental stage and still needs study and verification in order to better understand it. The premises, however, are very promising and of considerable interest.

 My hope is Grero will become one of the varieties in which investing for the future of Umbrian wine making, as it has all the characteristics in order to make a unique wine to be identified to a territory. A final remark must be said for the labels, represented by nice cartoons and in which the protagonist is my friend Giampaolo Tabarrini. Each vintage has a different label: in 2014 we can see Federica, Giampaolo's wife, in 2013 and 2016 he is depicted with wine maker Emiliano Falsini, in 2015 Giampaolo Tabarrini runs away with a bottle of Piantagrero. It must be said 2016 vintage does not exist – better to say, it was not produced – because of the very strict and severe weather conditions not allowing the vine to give any grape. For this reason, in fact, in the label of 2016 vintage we see Giampaolo Tabarrini and wine maker Emiliano Falsini regretting for not having been able to make their Grero wine. The bottle of Piantagrero 2016, including the label, does exist but it is sadly empty, in the perfect provocative and surprising style distinguishing my friend Giampaolo Tabarrini.

Antonello Biancalana
61
Piantagrero 2015
Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Grero
Price: € 24.00 Score:

Deep ruby red and nuances of purple red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of blueberry, plum and black cherry followed by aromas of orange, flint, raspberry, blackberry, violet, carob, tobacco and pink pepper.
Low tannic attack with appreciable crispness, however balanced, light body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of blueberry, plum and raspberry.
18 months in steel tanks.
Pasta with meat and mushrooms, Stewed meat, Roasted white meat, Legume and mushroom soups



61
Piantagrero 2014
Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Grero
Price: € 24.00 Score:

Deep ruby red and nuances of purple red, impenetrable to light.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of blueberry, plum and raspberry followed by aromas of violet, orange, black cherry, blackberry, vanilla, chocolate and rosemary.
Properly tannic attack with an appreciable crispness, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of blueberry, black cherry and raspberry.
2 years in barrique.
Stuffed pasta with mushrooms, Stewed meat with mushrooms, Broiled meat and barbecue



Piantagrero 2013, Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Piantagrero 2013
Tabarrini (Umbria, Italy)
Grero
Price: € 24.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense ruby red and nuances of purple red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of black cherry, plum and pomegranate followed by aromas of raspberry, blueberry, orange, blackberry, violet, tobacco, chocolate, vanilla, cumin, pink pepper, leather and menthol.
Crisp attack and low astringency, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, plum and blueberry.
24 months in barrique.
Stuffed pasta with mushrooms, Roasted meat, Stewed meat, Mushroom soups




The label of Piantagrero
2016: neverwine
The label of Piantagrero 2016: neverwine

 




 Wine Tasting  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Wine Producers column Events 
  Wine Producers Issue 172, April 2018   
Tabarrini's Piantagrero: the Hidden Side of WineTabarrini's Piantagrero: the Hidden Side of Wine  Contents 
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