An exciting family estate, headed up by the irrepressible Bruna, & her husband Franco (Fiorino of Ricca), whose 14ha of vineyards cover four villages (communes) of Grinzane Cavour, Roddi, La Morra & Serralunga d’Alba.
Bruna’s father Giovanni (nato ’33) had sold wine in bulk, in demi-john or occasionally in bottle when the year was propitious. Export markets didn’t exist & they mostly produced Dolcetto, the local favourite! From 1989, with the arrival of Bruna & Franco in the cantina they started bottling every year. They started bottling commercially under the ‘Bruna Grimaldi’ label in 1999. It was Bruna who began exporting their wines. In 2015 their son Simone graduated from the Alba wine school, Umberto 1, having started working in the cantina from 2013. Their daughter Martina worked as a Wine Buyer in London, but since December 2018 has returned to Grinzane to help the family entreprise!
In those early days they flirted with tonneaux, plus a couple of botti grandi (from 2000), but a new bottaio in 2014 has given them more space to invest in five more botti grandi of 16HL, 21HL & 30HL, along with more 500/700litre tonneaux; indeed two 50HL troncoconico wooden vats are in-bound! They vinify their wines in a mix of stainless-steel & cement vats. Malolactic generally takes place in cement, soon after the alcoholic ferment, to ensure the wine is clean going into wood. In 2008 they first started employing the ‘cappello sommerso’/submerged cap method of extending the maceration, staked down in the s/s vats (to achieve a rounder tannin profile).
Grinzane Cavour is where the winery is located, & birthplace of Bruna’s father Giovanni, hence their plots in the crus of Borzone (1ha planted in 2012 & 2007 at 220m asl) & Raviole (0.84ha at 280m asl planted in 2000).
Serralunga d’Alba is home to Bruna’s mother Clara (Scarzello) – a.k.a ‘La Badarina’! It’s her family that own a prize, 2ha piece, ave. 20 yo vines of the Badarina vineyard, 400m asl high up, lying just across the road from Boscareto & Francia. Their best-exposed plot & monopole, Vigna Regnola becomes the Badarina Riserva.
In the commune of Roddi, they have two fine plots in the heart of the Bricco Ambrogio vineyard (0.7ha & 0.2ha aged between 10-25yo), that Bruna & her husband bought together in 2006; first vintage 2007. 2007 is also the year when the family stopped using herbicides in their vineyards.
They also have 2.5ha of south-facing vines at 240m asl in La Morra’s Roere di Santa Maria vineyard (10 yo & 40 yo vines, the Roere planted in 1972); yet a glance & whiff tells you this vineyard belongs in Verduno – indeed it lies on the confine/border, not far from the Roero!
Finally they have vineyards in the comune of Diano d’Alba & (salty) Sinio (Vigna del Gallo), that make up approx. 60% of their Nebbiolo d’Alba; the remainder being from Roddi.
Their Barolo Classico is a very generously layered blend of fruit from five vineyards across four villages (Bricco Ambrogio, Roddi; Borzone & Raviole in Grinzane Cavour; Roere di Santa Maria in La Morra; & Badarina of Serralunga d’Alba).
Since vintage 2014 they have been farming organically.
Barbera d’Alba ‘La Mattea’
Barbera d’Alba Superiore ‘Scassa’
Barolo Bricco Ambrogio, Roddi
Barolo Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba
Barolo Riserva Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba (Barolo Badarina vigna Regnola, Serralunga d’Alba from vintage 2018!)
2019 Langhe Arneis – as tasted by DBG on Friday 10th January 2020 14%, Total Acidity (TA) 5.7g/L, pH 3.4, So2 total 104 mg/L, bottled Dec’19, 5k bts. Very much a ‘Langhe’ Arneis, coming from a single 0.6ha vineyard in the Barolo commune of Grinzane Cavour (on the road to Diano), so a site rich with white marne sant’agata fossili which imparts a wet stone sapidity to this candied lemon & white peach beauty. Unoaked & emphatic, limestone/Langhe ‘square’ & structured, quite potent but fresh & generous with the lime-stone fruit. Very good, & sealed with DIAM10.
2018 Nebbiolo d’Alba ‘Bonurei’– as tasted by DBG on Friday 10th January 2020 14.5%, TA 5.5, pH 3.55, So2 61mg, bottled Dec’19, 15k bts. Named after the ‘Sorì Bonurej’ vineyard, one of Diano’s finest. Bright ruby red, the Fiorino family has nailed the juicy, open-hearted & joyful character of 2018, whose fruit comes from the vollages of Roddi, Diano d’Alba & Roddino. For the 2018 vintage version, they also used one botte grande of 21HL, alongside 500/700L tonneaux, which seems to have helped frame the fruit expression. Lovely focus of briary, tea-leaf fruit that owes more to Roddi; the Diano (Bonurej) fruit giving a supple strawberry flesh to the wine; while it’s Roddino’s blue marne high up beyond Serralunga d’Alba that arguably contributes to a racy core of cherry kirsch. Very good indeed, sealed in a DIAM10 & complemented by the refreshing new label!
2017 Nebbiolo d’Alba – tasted Nov’18 from tank, to be bottled March’19, a blend of fruit from Roddi, Roddino & Diano: che finezza! Lots of pretty, wild strawberry, almost mentholated, dare I say ‘ribena’ esque?! Lovely cassis, charming & ready to go!
2016 Barolo ‘Camilla’– as tasted by DBG on Friday 10th January 2020. 15%, TA 5.88, pH3.5, So2 69mg, bottled July’19, 16k bts. A classic Barolo blend but generously layered with fruit from five vineyards across four villages (Bricco Ambrogio, Roddi; Borzone & Raviole in Grinzane Cavour; Roere di Santa Maria in La Morra; & Badarina of Serralunga d’Alba), which in vintage 2016 has been deservedly re-packed in a smart Albeisa bottle & with a new but understated, traditional label to boot! Maceration was for c.25 days pumping over, malolactic in cement, then aged for 24/30 mths in wood (60% 500/700L tonneaux, 40% 21HL botti grandi) the influence of the newly added Bricco Ambrogio fruit gives a broad, inviting brambly/orange warmth to the colour & nose, rendered creamier by the French oak. The Grinzane Cavour pair of vineyards provide an earthy, mentholated, hedgerow fruit, while the Roere di Santa Maria on the border with Verduno is more rose fragrant. Meanwhile the top dressing of 15% Badarina, Serralunga fruit provides the linearity, musky sapidity & length. Overall, this classic Barolo, of which the family is most proud, shows good grip, a kernel of red/black curranty, briary fruit, a zip of Badarina berries…fresh, yet quite plush & approachable even now. Prodigious.
2015 Barolo ‘Camilla’- 14.5%, bottled July’18, 90% aged in botte grande, named after the Cascina Camilla up behind their Grinzane Cavour winery, once source of fruit for their Barolo; in vintage 2015 they apparently added a dash of Serralunga’s Badarina to the blend of fruit from Grinzane & La Morra, giving this excellent classic Barolo an ethereal lift: bristling bright pale red, the nose curry red, rose, almost cranberry, ethereal freshness & levity! To taste, both crunchy & suave (if that’s possible)! Agile, it dances, ‘leggiadro’ (weightless), agrumato/mandarin esque notes.
2014 Barolo ‘Camilla’- 14%, tasted from bottle, 3 Nov’17; a blend of fruit, two-thirds from darker Grinzane Cavour vyds of Borzone & Raviole (on Diano soils), & a third from La Morra’s Roere di Santa Maria on the border with Verduno (from 2011), i.e. white talcum powder soils. Cement & stainless-steel, followed by two years in 50% botti grandi, 50% tonneaux, bottled a year before release. Bright, clear, pretty cassis red, a classic Barolo colour! Delicate perfume of rose petal spice, a hint of neo botte grande, of leaf litter, clove & curry even; to taste, bello pieno, volume, refreshing, alive, a real sense of that Roere (Verduno!) vineyard coming through with soft, orange peel tannins, rose petal fragrance, cool restraint, a core of sweet red fruit, juicy, but also salivatingly sapid. Classic but giving.
2016 Barolo Bricco Ambrogio, Roddi– as tasted by DBG on Friday 10th January 2020. 15%, TA 5.86, So2 75mg, pH3.5, bottled July’19, 3k bts. Fewer bottles were released in vintage 2016 Bricco Ambrogio, from their 40 yo prime plot that sits mid-slope & full south at 250m asl, while the fruit of the smaller, younger, east-facing parcel was used in the classic Barolo blend. Vinified for 30 days, partly on submerged cap. In vintage 2016 Bricco Ambrogio they dispensed with the used French tonneaux & focused ageing on two botti of 21HL for 30mths, so giving more clarity to the gorgeous fruit! Indeed it’s more intense & emphatic than the classic Barolo, Roddi’s Bricco Ambrogio from the Bruna Grimaldi site is a broad red garnet, the nose is voluminous, brambly warm & inviting, a hint of the 2016 vintage glacier cherry grip, but packed with more exotic fruit than Badarina, more passion fruit & blood orange (tarocco) peel. Composed, a strong character than emanates from this cliff-like vineyard on poor blue/grey marne soils that faces directly into the sun & captures the light all day long. Lots of brambly, sandalwood & even pine needle notes. Extremely inviting.
2015 Barolo Bricco Ambrogio, Roddi– as tasted by DBG on Wednesday 23rd January 2019. 14.5%, bottled July’18, stainless steel ferment, malo in cement, pH3.6, TAcidity 5.6, aged in 50% 21HL botte/50% tonneaux of 700L, drawn from Roddi’s only vigna/cru, that in my opinion is closer to La Morra’s Santa Maria & an extension of the Bettolotti cru, than it is to Roddi. An open, ventilated, sunbench at 280m asl, the richness of fruit tempered by poor grey marl soils, darker, more intense in colour than their Barolo ‘Camilla’; the nose rich with (La Morra esque) curry, incense & rich strawberry notes, fuller, volume; the palate is curvaceous, with a juicy peach character, yet bright with red highlights. Only 6k bottles produced.
2014 Barolo Bricco Ambrogio, Roddi – tasted from bottle 2 Oct’17; aged in tonneaux & botti grandi of 16HL, from two parcels, 10 & more than 25yo, in the heart of this nutrient poor, grey marl soils on a pure SW exposed, ventilated, steep slope jutting out at c. 250m asl, which appears to be a continuation of Santa Maria’s low hills; so a relatively hot spot. No surprise then at the glowing red garnet & warm, direct, superripe strawberry nose, very round & seductive, even in the comparatively cool 2014 vintage. So quite exotic then, with rich, pure, strawberry, suave, silky tannins, balsamic, enveloping. Very impressive. For those who love a pure, rich fruit expression! 14.5%
2016 Barolo Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba – as tasted by DBG on Friday 10th January 2020. 14.5%, TA 5.9, So2 75mg, pH3.5, bottled July’19, 4.5k bts. Compared to the 2015 vintage, in 2016 the family aged their Badarina fruit in only botti grandi, so framing the fruit perfectly: two of 30HL, having been vinified for c.30 days on 50% submerged skins. And just as this vineyard is one of the Barolo region’s highest, at 450m asl, across the road from Boscareto & Francia, facing ESE on white Formazione Lequio sandstone soils, so soaring high above that of Bricco Ambrogio below, so there’s surprise that it’s a paler red, more transparent & brilliant; that the nose should thrill with sensational, Campari red, wild strawberry, fieno/hay fresh, curry plant, & even white pepper, lots of slancio/lift, a sense of high skin to pulp ratio, of sublime detail, wild mint…such a fine texture, as you might expect, pinpoint, racy, linear & vertiginous, reflecting the Serralunga ridge from which the vineyard drops! It’s energetic with higher, pacy, acidity, slightly lower abv%, & packed with sapid cranberry crunch. Very long, & echoey!
2015 Barolo Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba – as tasted by DBG on Wednesday 23rd January 2019. 14.5%, bottled July’18, also 50% botte, 50% tonneaux, but this time the Badarina has been aged in relatively new 30HL botte, & includes the Vigna Regnola parcel, perched high & white, sometimes vinified separately as a Riserva (see below). Badarina belongs to Bruna’s mother, Clara, aka ‘La Badarina’ from Serralunga d’Alba, so Formazione Lequio, calc clay & sandy soils at c. 450m asl. Always paler red, the nose is fine, fein herb, fieno/hay, a mass of tiny red berries,a sense of white stone, very perfumed, it caresses, floats; the palate shows wonderful balance, packed tight with red berries & stellar fruit, sapid, the finest of textures, energetico! 8k bottles produced.
2014 Barolo Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba – tasted from bottle 2 Oct’17; aged in tonneaux for 6 mths, then botti of 21HL for 24 mths; from diverse parcels in this stunning vineyard that lies across the road from Boscareto & (Cascina) Francia, facing ESE at c.400m asl, on steep, pale sandy clay calc soils that fall away below you. An extraordinary elevation, with so much light & ventilation, the vines somehow cling on! No surprise then that Badarina is the palest red of the three Baroli, bright, tight, perfume, lifted, a focal point of cassis, hay-like, tiny red berried perfume, spirited, compact, sapid; to taste, it’s withdrawn, precise, lots of pretty red fruit, salty, fragrant, elusive but alive, biding its time. * Tasted from bottle April’18: palest of red, swirling ethereal nose, of rose petals & cassis, sand & salt, such tension, such tiny, beady red fruit, sapido!! Top Serralunga Barolo, from the best half!? 14.5%
2013 Barolo Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba – tasted May’18 at the cantina (having been open 24 hrs!), 14.5%, aged in two 21 HL botti + some tonneaux; sure-footed presence, pretty sweet fragola e cassis mixed with sandalo spice, suave soffice, dolceastro, red cherry stone finish. Impressive.
2012 Barolo Riserva Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba – tasted March’18, 14.5%, having spent 36 mths in wood; sempre from the south-facing, Vigna Regnola plot of Badarina. Compared to the 2011, the 2012 is fresher, more complete, still luxuriant, with a rich, heady, balsam oil, orange peel, leather, aniseed, tea leaves & quinine perfume; to taste, it’s full, refreshing, alive, wearing its 14.5% + lightly, indulgent sii!, but balanced by lots of pace & dynamism too. Succulent, irresistible even now!
2011 Barolo Riserva Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba – tasted from bottle, 3 Nov’17; formerly labeled as ‘Vigna Regnola’ (meaning a cantankerous person!) until 2001, from the finest exposed parcel in the heart of their 2ha of Badarina, aged for 30 mths prior to release. The current 2011 vintage is unsurprisingly rich & decadent, superripe, leather, tobacco, with gelato, strawberry ripple, & curry plant notes; rich on the palate, seamless tannins, creamy red fruit – hedonism, puro!
2010 Barolo Riserva Badarina, Serralunga d’Alba – tasted May’18 at the cantina; piu intense/scuro than vintage 2011, with more profondita, layers, notable presenza of tamarindo, of teak furniture; richly compact with kirsch fruit, great energy, electric even, plenty of blackstrap licorice, reminds me of 2014! Molto buono.
2005 Barolo Badarina ‘Vigna Regnola’ (Riserva), Serralunga d’Alba – una bomba! Richer, darker, globules of decadent fruit, what it lacks in elegance & transparency it makes up with in pure power. Made for the US market, Parker would have loved it! Next…
2001 Barolo Badarina ‘Vigna Regnola’ (Riserva), Serralunga d’Alba – wow! What a difference four vintages can make! Completely unrecognisable from the torrid 2005, but then 2001 is more highly regarded & classier, as a rule. Indeed it’s more limpido/clearer, i.e. stable! Pale 2001 red, fresh, ethereal, leather, sapid; the palate’s beautiful, refined, kirsch red cherry stone, ginger root, salato, peaceful, it flows…!
1999 Barolo Badarina ‘Vigna Regnola’ (Riserva), Serralunga d’Alba – another classic example of this prodigious vintage: fine on the nose, it’s got presence, leather, orange skin, stoffa/substance, not as fine on the finish, but impressive nonetheless.