Giacomo Conterno is a Barolo estate that commands great respect, not only amongst wine lovers worldwide, but equally with the Barolo producers themselves. This bastion of traditional Barolo, passed down from father to son over 3 generations, is now in the hands of the highly talented Roberto Conterno who has arguably taken the wines on to even greater heights since taking full control of winemaking in 2003. Though the cellars are located in Monforte, the vineyards are in Serralunga. From the Cascina Francia Roberto makes an eponymous Barolo of wide renown, in addition to a pure and fine Barbera. In particularly special years Roberto separates out the finest Nebbiolo grapes from the Cascina Francia vineyard and makes the much lauded Monfortino Riserva Barolo. The vineyard practice is as organic and respectful to nature as possible, the approach in the winery is hands off. The wines are fermented in tank gently over a long period, up to 20 days for Barbera and 35 days for Nebbiolo before ageing in large oak Botti for up to 2 years for Barbera, 4 for Barolo and 7 for the Riserva. These are high-toned, intense, and as pure as Barolo can be.
Generally a classicist, Roberto prefers the cooler vintages, though one can’t help feeling he has more of a soft spot for 2011 than other warmer years "they are a little like the 2007s but with more tannin and with fresher acidities, they are less tannic and big than the 2009, however. There is a good balance.” 2011 was, crucially, a longer season than 2009, although it was hot during September nights were cooler. This allowed perfect ripening of tannins. So whilst this has added structure to the wines, they are extremely smooth and suave.
Piedmont sitting at the foot of the mountains is justly regarded as one of, if not the finest wine growing region in Italy. The noblest grape found in the region in undoubtedly Nebbiolo, with the DOCG's of Barolo and Barbaresco at the forefront of production. Barbera and Dolcetto come in second and third, and being earlier ripening are often found located on those sides of the hills that receive less sunshine. The wines from Piedmont are intrinsically food friendly wines, a fact understandable given the culinary strength of the area.