I was so very fortunate to be at Otto Enoteca in NYC the week they opened a couple of magnums of Conterno Cascina Francia Barolo 2001. Wanting to savour every sip, I paired my quartino with 5 of my favourite cheeses and contemplated what makes Barolo “the king of wines and the wine of kings”.
Estate: Cantine Giacomo Conterno is one of the most renowned names in all of Piedmont. The estate traces its origins back to 1908 when Giovanni Conterno opened a wine bar and began making wine from both his vineyards and those of his neighbors. In the early 1960s, Giacomo passed the winery on to his sons, Giovanni and Aldo [Aldo has since founded his own estate, the Poderi Aldo Conterno]. During the 1970’s, those small winemakers they had sourced grapes from began bottling their own wines, so the brothers purchased Serralunga’s great Cascina Francia vineyard. Cascina Francia is located 400 meters above sea level with a southwest exposure and predominately calcareous soil. The vineyard is the sole source of grapes for their “crown jewel, Monfortino” and the esteemed Cascina Francia Barolos. Giovanni gained a reputation as “the greatest of all Barolo producers” and began working with the 3rd generation, his son Roberto in 1988. Roberto took over the estate upon Giovanni’s passing in 2004. Conterno Barolos are considered the perfect example of traditional Barolo made in the classic style: “rich, powerful, massively structured, and capable of long aging in bottle”.
Philosophy: “Only premium quality can bring prestige to the Langhe.”
Winemaking: Only natural yeasts are used, along with “temperature controlled fermentation and a lengthy maceration; after this, the wine is aged in large Slavonian botti and aged in bottle for four years”.
Tasting Notes: Dark garnet with brick edges in colour. Alluring aromas of plum, soft spices, rose petal, earth and hints of cedar radiate with each swirl. Dynamic, with an elegant composition to the cherry, blackberry, leather, and mineral rich earth notes. Soft and velvety with desert dry tannins persevering thru the lengthy finish of peppery spice, hints of dark chocolate and echoes of red berries. Powerful and classic, yet with a dominating opulence. Direct from my tasting notes: “Just took down that quartino without even noticing, yet I noticed that each sip was divine”.
Estate Bottled by Azienda Vittivinicola Giacomo Conterno
$250 [average price for bottle, $500 the average price for the magnum]
94 points Wine Advocate
91 points Wine Spectator