Week 37 – Grillo

We tasted: 2017 Grillo Sicilia, Rupe Secca, £8.45, Haynes Hanson & Clark

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “Our grape buying quest has taken us far and wide but this week was a special pleasure. Whilst in the Cotswolds for a wedding we popped by a high street in a pretty town called Stow on Wold. As we walked past at least a dozen tea shops, this beautiful wine shop Haynes Hanson & Clarke emerged like a mirage.

One of those traditional shops with wooden crates everywhere and bottles that all look shiny and new. This was also a lovely coincidence because a great friend Siobhan who I studied the MW with is their buying director but I had entirely forgotten they had a countryside off shoot to their London shop. If I’m honest, when we stepped into the shop I wasn’t holding much hope for an unusual wine like Grillo to be on their shelves, yet within their select Italian wine range it certainly was. So this glass sitting before me right now feels a little fateful. I hope it lives up to that.

Grillo is a special grape for me because soon after I passed the MW I was asked to do a talk on this very grape in Sicily, to an audience of food and wine critics. That daunting feat was made worse by the fact that just before I was due on stage, I was introduced to Sicily’s very own Grillo specialist, and told they would be in the audience. Fortunately I managed to fumble my way through the talk, partially by asking the said specialist to tell us everything he knew, and he seemed delighted. As a result, I’m happy to say I know more than the average person about this lovely grape.

We mentioned in our notes that it is a cross between two other local grapes and I think this is what gives it the diverse character. It has this lovely honeysuckle, floral aroma but with a rich tropical core of fruit that has a touch of spice making it feel exotic in style. I would say this is the perfect grape for someone who typically likes whites with a bit of richness and body like Chardonnay or Viognier.

But onto this particular Grillo which is happily one I’ve never tried before. It shows the grape brilliantly. The aroma is bright, perfumed with a veritable fruit salad array of characters. The palate is just as fruity but not in a confected or syrupy way so that it feels fresh and not heavy to taste. There is just the perfect amount of acidity to the wine that holds these flavours up and keeps the palate zingy. Altogether a very satisfying experience because I really feel we’ve experience Grillo as it should be. I hope whichever wine everyone else manages to taste is as good as this.

Andy says: “It’s been a hectic week of socialising for me this week, and to be honest, I only had a couple of mouthfuls of this while I popped home to get changed before going to the residents’ AGM. Yes, it was as exciting as it sounds.

I would say that it had a lovely fruity aroma and was beautifully clean and crisp on the palate, with a perfect balance between the zingy acidity and fruity flavours. It really did go down very easily, and is perhaps one of my favourite whites so far.”

Buying Guide

Grillo is a Sicilian grape that is becoming increasingly popular. It has the richness & fragrance of Chardonnay with a slightly spicy character. So check out the Italian section of the local shop and look for Grillo on the label.

4 thoughts to “Week 37 – Grillo”

  1. I tried the Tenuta Rapitala Grillo Sicilia 2016 (Waitrose, £9.99). This is the same producer as the Nero D’ I tried back in week eight which I found a bit mediocre. So I didn’t have sky-high expectations and was pleasantly surprised.

    I found it surprisingly similar to last week’s Verdejo. The nose was difficult to pin down (again, my hay fever did not help). On first opening, it was mineral scents that took prominence (pencil eraser and chalk), although I seem to smell these in everything I try… With a bit of air a pleasant scent of white flowers came through. Like last week, I didn’t get much of the tropical fruit or spices. For me it was more of a soft scent of peaches, apples and lemons with maybe just a hint of pineapple. Minerality and saline notes were far more prominent than any spices.

    The taste was lovely. Dry and medium bodied. Neither big nor bold, but certainly not subtle either. It had a lemony core with some more overtly fruity flavours such as peach and pineapple in the background. There were those mineral and saline notes too. Just the right amount of acid to balance it and keep it crisp. Not a bad length for this style of white either.

    Overall I found it very nice. More tight and crisp than I’d anticipated (I was expecting something similar to Riesling) and perfect with some fish. I’ll buy this again.

  2. Wine -GRILLO, 2017 Le Casematte (Lea and Sandeman £13)
    Bottle says – nothing

    Quite pale with a hint of green in colour. I’m not quite sure how to describe this wine. I think the word ‘winey’ could be appropriate here, (thanks Andy). It smells ‘winey’, ie it’s generic to the point of banality. I found it hard to detect specific aromas, apart from a general sense of fruit with a hint of pepper.

    The flavour also reveals very little, in fact I’m still struggling to find anything to say about it. Maybe I’m having an off day, or maybe I’ve just chosen poorly, but this tastes like a sub £5 wine from somewhere you shouldn’t really buy wine from. Not nasty exactly, just not very interesting. This was a bit of a disappointment, as all the other Sicilian wines we have tried have been amazing. I have had Grillo before, as an alternative to my usual choices in Italian restaurants, but it was never a memorable wine. This just enforces that opinion. I think I’ll just put this one down to experience.

  3. Grillo. For me this wine had all the attributes of Chardonnay albeit a poor man’s Chardonnay. New to the wider world, a wine that hasn’t matured and still in its infancy. At six quid a bottle from M&S am tempted to return.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.