Two brothers tale of Barbera & Barolo: Aldo and Giacomo Conterno @ Scopri Thursday 18th October

On Thursday the 18th of October at Scopri Food and Wine, I will be running the second of a series of dinners’ looking at the best winemakers and best wines of Italy. 

This dinner is a comparison of two great brothers who started off at their family winery together before Aldo went his own way. This dinner is sold out, but if you would like to get on the waiting list for this dinner or are interested in future dinners email me at anthdanna@gmail.com

Their father was the acclaimed Barolista Giacomo Conterno, one of the denomination’s twentieth century pioneers who in 1920 began bottling the family’s Barolo Riserva, so heralding the birth of Monfortino, arguably Barolo’s most iconic wine.

 In 1961, Conterno and his brother Giovanni inherited the Giacomo Conterno winery; the two brothers went their separate ways in 1969 and Aldo created his own estate, Poderi Aldo Conterno, in Bussia in Monforte d’Alba.

 ‘Aldo Conterno was really a great man. He made Barolo history over the last fifty years by continuing to take the reputation of this unique wine to its highest level,’ said Pietro Ratti, a Barolo producer and president of the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Roero.

One of the secrets of Conterno’s success, besides owning prime vineyards, was his open-mindedness, a quality few other Barolo producers from his generation possessed, and a trait which perhaps originated when Conterno moved to California in the 1950s to help his uncle establish a winery.

 Soon after arriving however, Aldo opted to complete his mandatory Italian military service in the US Army and served during the Korean War. By the time he got out, his uncle had abandoned the winery venture and Conterno returned to Piedmont.

 Aldo became known for balancing tradition with new techniques. By the 1970s, in an effort to reduce Barolo’s massive tannins, he had reduced customary fermentation times and abandoned the submerged cap method in favor of pumping over – all radical decisions at the time.

 Although he allowed his sons Franco, Stefano and Giacomo to use barriques for the firm’s other wines, he insisted on large Slavonian casks for Barolo.

‘Vanilla, toast, spice and sweet tannins don’t belong in Barolo,’ he said. Aldo Conterno’s celebrated Barolos include Granbussia Riserva and single vineyard bottlings Romirasco, Cicala and Colonnello. Decanter

Aldo Conterno Conca Tre Pile Bussia 2009 Barbera Alba

SPECIES OF VINE: Barbera.

VINEYARD: Conca Tre Pile in Bussia (Monforte d’Alba).

HARVEST: manual, with grapes selection in the vineyard.

TIME OF HARVEST: first week of October.

VINIFICATION: red, with skin soaking inside stainless steel vats.

VINIFICATION TIME: the must stays on contact with the skins for about 8 to 10 days and it is further drawn off wine ; finally, the alcoholic VINIFICATION gets complete. 
VINIFICATION TEMPERATURES: from 26 to 28 degrees centigrades.

CELLAR REFINING: the new wine spends a few months inside stainless steel vats, it is transferred several times, and, consequently, it is poured onto barrels (“barriques”) where it remains for 12 months; finally, it will be bottled.

NOTES: the “Conca Tre Pile” is a hilly area in Bussia Soprana whose main vines are Barbera’s with vineyards having a maximum age of 45 years. The barrels (“barriques”) are 100% made of new wood.

Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia 2009 Barbera d’Alba

The 2009 Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia is at first quite a bit more floral and ethereal than the Cerretta, but with time in the glass the wine finds its center. The Cascina Francia dazzles with its combination of expressive, generous fruit and insistent minerality. Sweet herbs, roses, spices, anise, licorice and leather add complexity to a core of radiant fruit. This is a regal, aristocratic Barbera of the highest level. The 2009 has the openness of vintages such as 2007, but with the medium-bodied structure and finesse of silkier vintages such as 2004, which is a very appealing combination. This is a very complete, harmonious wine from Roberto Conterno. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2029. 93 points Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate 197, October 2011

Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia 2010 Barbera d’Alba –Monforte

The 2010 Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia is bigger, richer and broader than the Cerretta. Rose petals, sweet herbs, plums and dark cherries wrap around the palate in this striking, intensely satisfying Barbera. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2030 (92-94) points Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate 200, October 2012

The late and great Aldo Conterno

 Aldo Conterno Grand Bussia Barolo 1997

VINIFICATION: in wood with maceration of the skins in large Slavonia oak casks.

PECIES OF VINE: Nebbiolo, Michet and Lampia varieties.

VINEYARD: Romirasco, Cicala and Colonnelo vineyards (Bussia – Monforte d’Alba).

HARVEST: manual, with grapes selection in the vineyard.

TIME OF HARVEST: mid-October.

VINIFICATION TIME: the must remains in contact with the skins for 60 days, during which the alcoholic fermentation is fully completed.

VINIFICATION TEMPERATURES: variable with maximum peaks of 32 degrees centigrade.

CELLAR REFINING: once removed the new wine remains in large Slavonia oak casks where it ages and refines for 32 montha.

NOTES: the Barolo Reserve Granbussia is produced by blending grapes from the oldest vines, from the Romirasco, Cicala, and Colonnello, before fermentation starts, in the following percentages respectively: 70% – 15% – 15%. Naturally these optimal values may vary depending on the year.

The Granbussia remains in the cellar for at least 7 years before commercialization. It  is produced exclusively in the best years and in limited quantities.

Granbussia, the Barolo Riserva of the house, is made principally from the grapes of the Romirasco vineyard, the estate’s highest, and the altitude was obviously of real assistance in the unusually hot year of 1997. The 1997 Barolo Riserva Granbussia, quite fresh for the vintage, features a sweet, ripe, floral and tarry nose, fine cherry and plum fruit on the rich and full-bodied palate along with minerals, herbs, licorice, and asphalt. Though always a long-lived wine, it generally comes around earlier than Vigna Cicala, and I would choose to drink the wine between 2005 and 2020. 92 points, Daniel Thomases, Wine Advocate #149 Oct 2003

Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia 1997 Barolo Monforte

1997 Barolo Cascina Francia—Dark ruby. Incredibly beautiful nose of dried flowers and sweet fruit. The 1997 is dense and lush on the palate, showing very ripe dark cherry fruit, with notable extract and glycerin. Another wine that is just singing today, the alluring and irresistible 1997 offers superb drinking now. 92+ points Antonio Galloni In the Cellar Jul 2005

 

Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia 1998 Barolo Monforte

The 1998 Barolo Cascina Francia from Giacomo Conterno is delicate, layered and perfumed, showing gorgeous finesse and lovely inner tension in its fruit. Overall this is a soft, accessible Cascina Francia that is drinking beautifully today and should last for at least another decade. Both bottles I tasted from the property were truly sublime but I should point out that I, and others, have had decidedly different experiences with bottles purchased in the US, which have often come across as more austere for reasons that admittedly remain somewhat of a mystery. For those who are curious, I didn’t included a note on the 1998 Monfortino as it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that the wine is much too young to deliver any real pleasure at this stage, no matter how thrilling the wine might be to taste! Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. 93 points Antonio Galloni In the Cellar Mar 2009

Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia 1999 Barolo Monforte

1999 Barolo Cascina Francia—Dark lively red. The exceptional and outrageously decadent 1999 exemplifies the very best qualities of traditional Barolo. A wine of great length and persistence, it offers a multidimensional nose of sweet fruit, minerals and tar and a dense, layered personality bursting with flavors of dark ripe fruit, tar, roses and mint. Of these first four wines, the 1999 is clearly in a league of its own. 94 points/drink after 2009, tasted 05/05 Antonio Galloni In the Cellar Jul 2005

Conterno makes two Barolos both from the Cascina Francia vineyard, one of the great monopole sites in Piedmont. The vineyard was purchased by Giovanni Conterno in 1974 and measures six hectares. Cascina Francia is made in a traditional style, with natural yeasts and temperature-controlled fermentation and maceration lasting 3-4 weeks. The wines are aged in large Slavonian oak casks and are bottled in the summer of the fourth year following the harvest. In great vintages a special selection of the best fruit is made in the vineyard and that fruit becomes the Barolo Riserva Monfortino, perhaps the single most iconic wine in all of Piedmont. Monfortino is also made with natural yeasts, although fermentation/maceration time is longer, lasting 4-5 weeks, and is carried out without the aid of temperature control. Current vintages are aged seven years in cask, but past vintages have seen as much as 10 years of cask aging before being released. Monfortino is legendary for its extraordinary longevity, which is usually measured in decades. Antonio Galloni In the Cellar Jul 2005

Aldo Conterno Bussia Colonnello 2000 Barolo Monforte

SPECIES OF VINE: Nebbiolo, Michet and Lampia varieties.

VINEYARD: “Colonnello” vineyard, in Bussia (Monforte d’Alba).

HARVEST: manual, with grapes selection in the vineyard.

TIME OF HARVEST: mid-October.

VINIFICATION: red, with skin soaking inside stainless steel vats.

VINIFICATION TIME: the must stays on contact with the skins for 30 days: during this time the alcoholic VINIFICATION  gets fully complete, and the wine is then drawn off. VINIFICATION TEMPERATURES: changeable, with highest peaks of 32 degrees centigrades.

CELLAR REFINING: The new wine is racked several times before transfer to large Slavonia oak casks where it is aged and refined for 28 months.

NOTES: the vineyard “Colonnello” is about 40-45 years old and, to maintain it, its vines are replanted from time to time. The main variety of Nebbiolo is Michet and its rootstock is 420 A.

The 2000 Barolo Colonnello reveals a pretty bouquet with early stages of tertiary development. Tobacco, licorice and sweet spices emerge from the Burgundian bouquet. The Colonnello has aged evenly and gracefully. The tannins have melted away while the fruit is soft and expressive. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2018. 91 points, Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #195 Jun 2011

Aldo Conterno Bussia Cicala 2000 Magnum 1,5 lt. Barolo Monforte

 SPECIES OF VINE: Nebbiolo, Michet and Lampia varieties.

VINEYARD: “Cicala” vineyard, in Bussia (Monforte d’Alba).

HARVEST: manual, with grapes selection in the vineyard.

TIME OF HARVEST: mid-October.

VINIFICATION: red, with skin soaking inside stainless steel vats.

VINIFICATION TIME: the must stays on contact with the skins for 30 days: during this time the alcoholic

VINIFICATION gets fully complete, and the wine is then drawn off.

VINIFICATION TEMPERATURES: changeable, with highest peaks of 32 degrees centigrades.

CELLAR REFINING: The new wine is racked several times before transfer to large Slavonia oak casks where it is aged and refined for 28 months.

NOTES: the vineyard “Cicala” [meaning: balm-cricket] is about 40-45 years old and its vines are replanted from time to time. The main variety of Nebbiolo is Lampia and its rootstock is Rupestris du Lot.

The 2000 Barolo Cicala opens with gorgeous notes of crushed berries. The 2000 is a relatively small-scaled, lithe Cicala that shows excellent freshness all the way through to the long finish. The wine gains energy and focus in the glass, with suggestions of menthol and pine that add lift. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020. 93 points, Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #195 Jun 2011

MYSTERY WINE…..

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