Antonio Galloni - Wine Advocate - Issue#192 Dec 2010
About this WINE
Roberto Conterno took full control over the running of this famous estate just outside Monforte d'Alba, Piedmont, in 2003, when his father Giovanni Conterno passed away. Giovanni was the oldest son of the winery founder, Giacomo Conterno, and initially worked alongside his brother, Aldo Conterno. In 1969 the two sibling winemakers parted ways to create their own styles of Barolo.
Roberto continues to practice the traditional winemaking techniques of the area, producing long-lived, earthy wines. The focus has been strictly on nebbiolo and barbera since their freisa and dolcetto vines were grubbed up. Roberto also stresses the importance of organic viticulture especially in the early years of the vines' growth. The estate is most renowned for its great Barolos, Cascina Francia and Monfortino Riserva. The latter is produced only in the very best of vintages and aged at least 7 years in large oak 'botti'. This is regarded as one of the finest Barolos produced today and by many as the finest wine made from Nebbiolo in the world.
Roberto has recently introduced some small wooden 'fermentini' to further improve quality.
Nebbiolo is the grape behind the Barolo and Barbaresco wines and is hardly ever seen outside the confines of Piedmont. It takes its name from "nebbia" which is Italian for fog, a frequent phenomenon in the region.
A notoriously pernickety grape, it requires sheltered south-facing sites and performs best on the well-drained calcareous marls to the north and south of Alba in the DOCG zones of Barbaresco and Barolo.
Langhe Nebbiolo is effectively the ‘second wine’ of Piedmont’s great Barolo & Barbarescos. This DOC is the only way Langhe producers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style. Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be cut with 15% other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto.
Nebbiolo flowers early and ripens late, so a long hang time, producing high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins; the challenge being to harvest the fruit with these three elements ripe and in balance. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are perfumed with aromas of tar, rose, mint, chocolate, liquorice and truffles. They age brilliantly and the very best need ten years to show at their best.