Small projects, family-operated projects, are those I really love. In them you can feel the passion and drive of the owners when you taste and enjoy their wines. When a winery produces 6,000 bottles per vintage, as Dominic and Leila do, and you drink a glass of their wine, it is almost as savoring a part of them, not only something they just produced but something they put their souls on.
Dominic and Leila run Grawü, whose name has been built with the first syllables of their last names: Dominic Würth and Leila Grasselli. Their winery is in the outskirts of Merano, a small village located up in the mountains of Alto Adige, in Italy. The area changed hands of Austria and Italy after each war, hence the cultural mix we find in this area, where some people have an Austrian background while others share an Italian one. Here you can ask for directions to villages and streets names known in either German or Italian languages.
They started their winemaking operation back in 2011. Two years later, they were producing around 800 bottles a year. Then in 2017, they rented a small winery and a small vineyard nearby Cermes and Naturno, where they have the capability of reaching the aforementioned 6,000 bottles per vintage. As they are still growing, taking small steps as they go, they mainly buy the grapes they need for their wines to three local growers in Trentino and South Tyrol.
Which grapes are those? They use Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and a new fungal disease resistant variety called Souvignier Gris.
One great thing about Grawü is that they are completely organic. They have a very simple approach to winemaking. As Dominic, says: “Selected grapes, no selected yeasts, no additives, no filtration and maximum of 50mg/l of sulfites. We love macerated white wines, so all our wines go through maceration. From three days to up to six months, then the wines are refined for a minimum of ten months in big acacia or oak barrels.”
Nowadays they are producing five wines: Bianco is their outstanding white cuvee with a blend of Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Grigio. Three weeks of skin contact and an ageing period of two years in barrel and one year in the bottles make this wine a spiritual experience. 2015 is the vintage in the market currently. Gewürztraminer is a beast. Four weeks of skin contact and an ageing of 18-24 months. Their Chardonnay: is an incredible wine as well. Just a merely three days on the skins and then this wines stays one year in a big acacia botti. The Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, stays in Eslavonian oak barrels for a year after beong on the skins for just five days.
Dominic and Leila also rent a small vineyard in the Venosta valley that grows the Souvignier Gris variety, which is a fungi-resistant grape variety. The must goes on the skins for six months in oak barrels, and the year of ageing is divided into six months in an inox tank and another six months in the bottle.
Finally, the wild wine of Grawü. In 2016 Dominic and Leila decided to elaborate a fully natural wine, with no treatments in the vineyard and vinified without added sulfites (it only contains 3mg/l of total SO²). Skin contact for at least six months, then it is aged in used oak barrel and in stainless steel tank for six months. The name of this wine is Ambra. This was the first vintage they have produced this wine and it is really good. I’ve had the chance of tasting a bottle of Ambra 2016 and the Bianco 2015 and I instantly fell in love with them. Ambra has a lot of power and the raw appeal of a natural wine. Bianco goes under the same philosophy but it is so fine and elegant wine that makes you enjoy the entire bottle before you even realize how good it is. They certainly are two beautiful examples of how passionate winemaking is and how natural wines should be.
This is a great winery if you like to walk in the wild side of wine. If you prefer the safety of the everyday wines, those that year after year taste the same, maybe this is not for you. But if you want to be surprised, to be held by all of you when opening and enjoying a wine made with passion and soul, definitely these are wines you should try. Dominic will be at RAW London in March and he will open the doors of his winery for the non-faint of heart. Don’t let the chance pass by.
Soon we will talk to Dominic Würth about their wines and winemaking philosophy.