Wine of the Month Club and Tim Grace


No accent here...naturally, from Ohio to England to Tuscany....who would have an accent?

Paul: Hey, welcome to the continuing winemaker of the club series here at Wine of the Month Club, and very excited to had Mr. Tim Grace stop by to say hi to us here all the way from some part of Ohio, some part of England and some part of…Tuscany, but what a great story. So, tell us about your…you were born and raised in Ohio, what happened?

Tim Grace: Yeah, my Dad is from…a little place...one of those towns, Steubenville, Ohio…

Paul: …Steubenville…

Tim Grace: …on the West Virginia border, Jimmy the (……….) and Dean Martin…

Paul: …Right…

Tim Grace: My Mom is from Cleveland, and in the late sixties they got moved over to…to the UK, to London, actually about an hour and a half away from England. And they…hadn't really been outside of Ohio at all, and one of the first places they saw…they went travelling, they went to Italy, which is really half way between Florence and, and …and right…right South of Panzano is the little village. And this is in the early seventies, I really don't remember the trip, and they kind of just kept going back and forth. And they…they…they fell in love with it, which is kind of a cliché for wine, but…true in our case.

Paul: Yeah...well, very romantic part of the world when it comes to wine, of course.

Tim Grace: Well, if you're from an old town in Ohio or Cleveland, and then all of a sudden you're in Tuscan hills, it's…impactful.

Paul: Yeah, right. So they didn't have dreams of their son becoming a football player, or you know...?

Tim Grace: ...Well, in football, buy not soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer…

Paul: ...Sorry, yeah, the wrong one, yeah…right…

Tim Grace: ...once we moved…once we moved…(laughing)...

Paul: ...(laughing)…So, how long were you in London?

Tim Grace: ...We were in England…I grew up in England, never had a British accent, always had this accent.

Paul: Like I said, you've got this Queen's English going on...(laughing)...

Tim Grace: ...it confuses everybody…(laughing). Then we moved over to Italy…in the…they started looking in the late…in the mid-eighties. So…and then bought this property in Panzano…in ninety-six.

Paul: And so, this...this is like a dream. I mean, how many people in America have this dream, I'm going to buy a, I'm going to buy a vineyard in Tuscany, move out there and you've…they found a place for one…is that common?

Tim Grace: …It took eight years, it took eight years…

Paul: Really, to fine a...

Tim Grace: …because it had to be Panzano. It had to be good quality and Panzano was very famous in…in all of Italy for really growing some of the best grapes in all of Italy.

Paul: Wow...

Tim Grace: So, it really took them eight years. It had to be the right size because we're not doing it as a hobby. Also, we wanted...then…to find a place we can actually build a cantina, the winery. So…it was eight years, yeah.

Paul: So, now it is a home, it's a tasting room?

Tim Grace: We have the home, we have the...the cantina, the winery, tasting room…a little guesthouse, and then, of course, about…I'm terrible at conversion, about a hundred acres of vines.

Paul: ...Forty-four hectares, about a hundred acres. And so, the guest room has how many beds in them…no, I'm just kidding…(laughing)...

Tim Grace: (laughing)...short waiting list…

Paul: So, you have your book here, and you've got some…that's some great.

Tim Grace: ...(San Francesca de la Vine), yeah. It's an anniversary present for my Mon from my Dad…

Paul: ...Is that there already?

Tim Grace: Yeah, it's about...thirty feet high…

Paul: Wow...!

Tim Grace: ...in the middle of one of the higher vineyards, yeah…

Paul: Very cool…

Tim Grace: Yeah…it's an anniversary present from…from my Dad for my Mom.

Paul: ...You know, I was going to get my wife the same thing like this…

Tim Grace: (laughing)…a big thirty foot statue…(laughing)…

Paul: ...Let me get a glass for you. So…was the winery active when you bought it, and if it wasn't, then why did you choose these particular wines to make?

Tim Grace: Well, there's been...there's been vineyards on the property for hundreds of years, but they have always sold to all these fantastic local producers right…right around us. So, we were the…

Paul: ...So, you weren't manufacturing anything there?

Tim Grace: ...No, we were the first people to actually make wine. So, it took us…only about three years to build the cantina. I know for Italy…I saw the look on your face…(laughing)…for Italy it's lightning speed…and so the first vintage we did was ninety…nine, which is a great vintage in Tuscany to kind of kick off.

Paul: ...Yeah, to start with…so…

Tim Grace: ...And so, this wine (Il Villano), Molino di Grace, by the way , is for our last name. In Italy it's always Molino di Grace, which just confuses the Italians…

Paul: ...(laughing)…that's funny…

Tim Grace: Grace has no meaning in Italian…but Molino is windmill in Italian. It's an old historic landmark, but...

Tim Grace: That would confuse them even more probably, and (Villano) is just a millstone and this is actually the only blended wine we make...just…just a table wine, its Sangiovese and then Merlot, which really just sort of soften the Sangiovese and just makes it very easy drinking table wine.

Paul: Well, it's got great depth, I think, for what it is, and you know in America, as you already know table wine…the term table wine just mean alcohol content. And so, your meaning have sort of a country wine to have every day…

Tim Grace: ...and every day…and every day, it is, you know…again, these are…this is a phase that is over used for Italian wine, but these are food wines, you know, that's…that's the purpose for these wines.

Paul: But, wouldn't you call this a Super Tuscan? After all it's got Merlot in it, Super Tuscan?

Tim Grace: You know, everything these days with (IDT) they say is Super Tuscan…

Paul: ...Yeah, it's Super Tuscan, man…

Tim Grace: ...So, I see it as Super Tuscan…all the time. I mean, it just…it just has a nice little finish to it, it's got some depth and some structure, its…it's a wine actually I'm really proud of…

Paul: ...It's really good…

Tim Grace: ...cause frankly it's almost, you know, it's really good. I get asked a lot which one are you most proud of, and it's kind of easy to say the higher end wines, but with good land I…it's my bad if I don't make good wine higher end, that's a little harder to do.

Paul: When you make...you can make good wine…I mean, you can make bad wine from good grapes, but not good wine from bad grapes, and that's where it starts, right?

Tim Grace: Yeah...

Paul: And so, this...now we're going to move into…Sangiovese and the chianti classico, Panzano which…that's the first time I've ever heard of the district, which is a very small district in Chianti Classico.

Tim Grace: Very small village, yeah. But it's got some very famous winery in Italy, right in Panzano. We do a couple of things a little bit...say unusual. So, one is…the fact that it's a hundred percent Sangiovese, which you use to not be allowed to do. You had to put white grapes in there, and now you can't. So, most is blended with cabernet, merlot, we just want to focus on the strength of the wine, which is really being a fantastic food wine, kind of like I've said that before, and...but to do that we also have to hold the wine back a little bit in bottles. So, this is 2010…which we've just moved into, so typically 2010 or 2011 in the market place, but you know, we want the wine to be really ready to drink when people open it.

Paul: I love the layers of this wine...in 2010…it even seems young in 2010, it's still got plenty of life in it. Wonderful expression of Chianti Classico, cause I see so many of them that are pretty insipid, kind of thin, but they say Classico, so they get good money for it. But, that's a great value. This is really fun. This is the '06 Riserva, which is a current vintage showing nice brick colors.

Tim Grace: (Which is a current vintage)...well, if you come to the winery, which everybody is invited to do, we like visitors, you would see…we have stacks…(laugh)…we have stacks and stacks and stacks of bottles in our winery, more than most people because we hold the wines back. So, I've got to hold back many more vintages than the typically producers. So, I…I'm a little limited on space…so again, to give you an idea, typically you see '08 and '09 Riserva and this is '06. So, again the wine is…these wines have many, many years left on them. The age is beautiful, you know, the marketing just hasn't quite caught up, but you know what's inside the bottle…which is why they end up being pretty good value for (tiny) wine.

Paul: They have pretty good value actually based on (what we) taste and that's what we do basically is find the value. This has a wonderful old world character to it. Certainly you sense it's age in the nose and the color, but I can see that with some really fun, like. This is really…

Tim Grace: Yeah, a piece of meat, in our area it'll be mistaken for, you know, big piece of meat, which is thick and red and something like this just, you know, is a nice marriage in your mouth, makes your mouth feel...yeah…

Paul: Really makes it...it really...

Tim Grace: ...cause Chianti Classico and Sangiovese is not supposed to fight in your mouth with the food. It's not supposed to be overpowered and I think these do that job very well.

Paul: What's the reserve or requirement in that part of Tuscany valley?

Tim Grace: So the difference in law is one has twelve percent alcohol, one has twelve and a half, between normal Chianti Classico everybody does that, one year of aging can be a Classico Riserva, year or two. We all do that, so for us like many producers, it's much older vines, it's much later harvest, more time in bottles. It's not like it's more open or anything like that...

Paul ...But clearly that gives a little more attention, cost a little more to make, right, got to hang on to it a little longer and you've got to age it. Now you guys use new oak generally or combination?

Tim Grace: We use probably less new oak than a lot of our fellow producers. So on this wine is half in new oak for eleven months and on the Riserva it's only a third. So, this is also…what people would call Super Tuscan (IDT) wine, but it's still a hundred percent Sangiovese. When we bought the property there was one vineyard that was set apart from…everywhere else. It was really our best vineyard. It's about five hundred and eighty meter up, so that's sixteen hundred…seventeen hundred feet, something like that...and it has very old vines. It's about sixty year old vines.

Paul: Really, wow, that's great...

Tim Grace: ...I say about because it's Italy, the…apologies (if there are any) Italian people out there, the paper work says about three different dates…if I average them it says it's about sixty year old vines. If…for my family who's very clearly speak English (and) not from this place, you know, a single vineyard, it just capture time, space and (varietal)…

Paul: ...Yes, it really is…

Tim Grace: ...Like, you know, it's just so focused, and I just do about five thousand bottles of this, so it's just limited production. It's just meant to capture this…just this really special place that we're really lucky to be a part of.

Paul: It's very special wine, actually. It's one of the nicest Chiantis I've had in a long time...

Tim Grace: …Thank you, I appreciate that...

Paul: ...the character is there, it's got life, it's got depth, it's got layers, and you still can sense…you sense the age of the vines. You've manufactured that well. What's the…what's the yield there…wines that…

Tim Grace: Oh, it's like a ton and a half...

Paul: Really, it's pretty low...

Tim Grace: ...yeah, it's really…it's really low, yeah. It's from a decent size vineyard, but it's…we're almost enemies. We're…what's inside…the improvements in Chianti Classico and in Sangiovese over the past thirty years have been vast. So what you get in the bottIe is fantastic. The marketing hasn't quite caught up to that. So, like in Riserva if you…if you think of a great bottle of Italian wine you're going to typically think of an old (Borella), (Berella), (Amarula), Super Tuscan, the reality is for Chianti Classico Riserva, not just my wine, but for a lot of Classico Riserva you get a great bottle of wine, whatever that means to you, for half or two-thirds the price…

Paul: ...For half the price, right... Tim Grace: Absolutely. I'm biased

Paul: Well, I'm also one of those guys that will lean towards, like instead of going after the (Brunellos) because you can find some really good values when you're in that district, other than the classified stud that

Tim Grace: Absolutely, absolutely...

Paul: Well, here's the …is the address on here?

Tim Grace: ...on the inside, yeah, yeah…

Paul: Good, so I'm…I'm going to put that up…

Tim Grace: ...and directions…and directions are in there too…

Paul: ...And directions are in there…

Tim Grace: ...Yeah, we are full circles…

Paul: So, you guys are out towards the center of Tuscany, you stop by Il Molino di Grace...("Gratsie")…(laughing)…

Tim Grace: (laughing) …Yeah, to Italy is Il Molino di Grace…

Paul: Pleasure to have you, Tim. Thank you very much for coming.

Tim Grace: Gracias.