Very high tannin, berry, pepper, high acid, made for immediate consumption, Grignolino is a native of Monferrato.
A vine named Barbesino was known for producing Chiaretto, or light red wine in the 13th century. This is thought to be the origin of the vine, but not the name. The name comes from Grignare, meaning to smile or laugh in dialect, or Gringnole meaning seeds, as the variety has a lot. Grignolino, along with Freisa survived Phylloxera, but has been reduced to secondary status since. Grignolino was and is made to be a wine that is drunk earlier, while Nebbiolo is aging. It makes pale delicate reds. Some almost consider it a rust-colored Chiaretto of gentle fragrance. It has also been compared to Beaujolais. The wines are intensely aromatic, with wild berries and an alpine scent. It is a lightweight cherry red, with high acidity and low alcohol (11 to 12%). However, one thing that stands out is the high tannin. This is because there are so many seeds. Grignolino does well on loose dry soils. There are two DOC areas: The Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese DOC is considered the best, as the vines thrive on light calcareous soils in the hills of northern Monferrato. To the south, the Grignolino d’Asti DOC is also good, making less tannic versions, although they have a slightly bitter finish that is an acquired taste. Here in the sandy calcareous soils around the town of Asti, Grignolino obtains a spring like fragrance, and an almost elegant flavor. Both DOC’s allow up to 10% Freisa to be blended in. Unfortunately, these wines are often overshadowed by the hearty wines the area is known for. Although vineyard acreage has decreased, many growers feel Grignolino is very distinctive, so they are determined to continue planting it.