“One of the greatest and most extraordinary people in the world of wine,” wrote VinoWire contributor Franco Ziliani in a heartfelt tribute to the beloved and revered maestro of the Italian wine world, “the greatest nose and the greatest palate I’ve ever met, Giorgio Grai turns 80 today.”
With his wines, wrote Franco in a profile devoted to Grai and published on the Italian Sommelier Association website, “Giorgio Grai has taught a tide of persons (myself included) the importance of the central concepts of wine — balance, drinkability, and elegance — by maintaining them as its indisputable and timeless cornerstones.
In 2000, New York Times wine writer Frank Prial wrote of Grai, quoting colleague Sheldon Wasserman:
- Giorgio Grai is one of the legendary winemakers of Italy but is almost unknown in this country. The late Sheldon Wassermann, who wrote extensively about Mr. Grai in ”Italy’s Noble Red Wines” (Macmillan, 1991), once said: ”Giorgio is only interested in making the wine. Selling it interests him not at all.”
Rather like an appellate court judge, Giorgio Grai is rarely involved in the early stages of winemaking. He has never owned vineyards, but he does make wine, for many different cantine, or wineries. For his own label he prefers to buy finished wines and blend them. He is from the Alto Adige in the far north of Italy, but he makes wine in Tuscany, the Piedmont and as far south as Apulia.
His cabernet sauvignon is considered by many Italians to be the best produced in that country. It is full-bodied with classic black-currant flavors, but its elegance and long finish are neither Bordeaux-like nor Italian. It is an exceptional wine, and most unusual.