Giacomo Conterno, their legendary wines
& Barolo Monfortino Riserva
Giacomo Conterno’s wines have reached mythic status and I feel lucky to have visited the winery in person just once! I remember wanting to be skeptical but when the Monfortino tasted straight from the barrel blows you away, you know the wines really are worth the hype! I must admit that these are not the bottles that I can regularly open but the few times I have, it has always been memorable. We feel honored to have been given an allocation this year from the winery, especially with the full range of Barolos from the unbelievable 2016 vintage. We were extremely lucky to get the current Monfortino from 2014 with this range because those have a special place in my heart since they are my children’s 2 birth years! We will be saving those easily until they are 18 years old for those lucky kids!
About The Winery
For those of you who don’t know, Giacomo Conterno is one of the most legendary wineries in Italy. Their jewel, Monfortino Reserves are only made in the best vintages.
Conterno started out as a caffé/bar in Monforte d’Alba all the way back in 1908! As most did at the time, Giovanni Conterno sourced grapes from farmers to make his own wines. It is thought that the special first “Monfortino”, the very best of the wine made that year, was either 1912 or 1920. At those times most wine was sold in casks, making the Conternos one of the first family wineries to bottle and label their own wines. For 54 years two Barolos, a normale and riserva, were produced from purchased grapes, made by the motto that a Barolo at the time of bottling should be “undrinkable”, though be a great bottle after twenty, thirty, forty years.*1
This practice of buying grapes carried on with the following generations with Giovanni’s son Giacomo and grandson Giovanni until 1974.when he bought the famous “Cascina Francia” vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. Since Barolo is released by law after 4 years, the first Barolo Francia label was not released until the beginning for the 80s. This rare “monopole” cru has now become Conterno’s flagship wine.
Giovanni passed away in 2004 when his talented son Roberto Conterno took over and continued to maintain the legacy. Their wines today (and yesterday) are considered some of the purest and finest expressions of Barolo. Roberto decided to make the wines with respect to his family tradition and did not follow his peers with the modern winemaking style. His immaculate care of the vineyards and precision in the cellar make these wines some of the greatest in the world. Throughout the years he has expanded the Barolo portfolio by purchasing vineyards in Cerretta (Serralunga) in 2008 and Arione (Serralunga next to Cascina Francia) in 2015. Many say that Arione has an even more beautiful exposure than their benchmark Francia!
Barbera d’Alba Vigna Francia 2018
Coming from the monopole cru Francia in Serralunga this Barbera is considered one of the best! It is aged 2 years in traditional large casks. The 2018 represents an elegant vintage expressing notes of blackberries and raspberries with beautiful acidity and persistence. This is always a Barbera that you can age!
Barolo Cerretta 2016
Different than the Francia and Arione Barolos from the estate, the grapes for this Barolo come from the opposite side of Serralunga in Cerretta. As with all his Barolos, this wine has a 3-4 week fermentation and maceration and is aged for over 38 months in large wooden barrels (mostly from Austria). On the nose you smell beautiful red fruit and rhubarb with a strong floral note. On the palate it is structured and lifted with smooth tannins but a great ability to age.
Barolo Arione 2016 (97 pts. WS)
The most recent Barolo label under Conterno’s name. Arione is a vineyard situated next to his Francia cru. This exhibits similar soil characteristics as its neighbor but has a more southern sun exposure making this a fascinating wine to try. Aged in big wooden vats for approximately 48 months. The flavors are representative of the Helvation soils giving way to a nose of violets, herbal notes, spices and tobacco and on the palate the perfect balance of power and finesse. Long finish with structure to age well through the years.
Barolo Cascina Francia 2016 (97 pts. WS)
Not made in less than satisfactory vintages, the wine macerates on its skins for 3–4 weeks at controlled temperatures below 30°C and is aged 4 years in large wooden casks. This grapes from this special vineyard give deep tannins to the wine and a special salinity coming from the limestone, therefore a wine to hold on to for many years. This wine is extremely complex with notes of small red berries, cherries with hints of licorice and mint (typical of Serralunga and Monforte) and leather. A powerful wine for aging.
Barolo Riserva Monfortino 2013 (99 pts. WS)
Possibly the most important wine in Italy and one of the most prestigious wines in the world. It is made only in exceptional vintages, coming from the top selection of grapes. The wine macerates on its skins with submerged casks in conical giant vats for up to five weeks with no temperature control. It is then moved to big barrels (generally Austrian oak) where it ages for approximately 6 years . This wine is known for its elegance and longevity (typical from Serralunga d’Alba). It is a wine thought to reach perfection at the 15 year mark and on. A collector’s and bucket list wine. This vintage displays floral notes of rosehip and violets, red fruits, dried leaves and underbrush. All the elements are perfectly in balance with an incredibly neverending finish.
footnote: Maresca, Tom, The Wine News (October/November 2002). Spotlight on Barolo Archived 2012-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
To see our Conterno line-up available in limited quantities click here >