There is no more revered name in Piedmont today than Roberto Conterno. Roberto is descended from two winemaking greats, grandfather Giacomo and father Giovanni. He is the third generation of the Conterno family to fashion what are for many the ultimate and purest expressions of Barolo. So, for Roberto to venture outside Barolo, it would have to be somewhere very special—a place of great terroir, history and, most important, the Nebbiolo grape. Everyone knows the standard set in Barolo and Barbaresco, but the forgotten appellations further north also have vast potential. Of these, Gattinara is surely the greatest. And that’s exactly what he found in the ancient Nervi estate, which he purchased in early 2018.
Founded in 1906, Nervi is the oldest cantina in Gattinara. Made by strictly old-school methods, including lengthy fermentations and three to four years aging in neutral Slovenian oak. These wines have consistently been among the great Nebbiolos of the Piemonte region. The winery focuses on three bottlings – Gattinara, Gattinara Molsino and Gattinara Valferana. The single-vineyard bottlings contain the best fruit from those vineyards whereas the third bottling contains the best fruit from Garavoglie and Casacce as well as some wine declassified from the Molsino and Valferan vineyards.
In 2017, Roberto Conterno did not bottle his vineyard-designates. Instead, all the best lots went into the straight Gattinara that we present today. This is a classic Nebbiolo but slightly richer than other vintages. Notes of tobacco, mint, dried herbs, licorice and dried cherry. No need to wait on this one. Feel free to open it this holiday season.
Produttori Del Barbaresco
Before 1894, Nebbiolo grapes were sold to make Barolo wine or simply labeled «Nebbiolo di Barbaresco». But in 1894, Domizio Cavazza, headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba and a Barbaresco resident, created the first cooperative, the «Cantine Sociali», by gathering together nine Barbaresco vineyard owners to make wine in the local castle that he owned. He understood well the differences between the same grape, the Nebbiolo, grown in the different areas of Barolo and Barbaresco and, for the first time, recognized it on the wine label.
The «Cantine Sociali» was closed in the 1930’s due to local economic rules. In 1958, the priest of the village of Barbaresco, recognizing that the only way the small properties could survive was by joining their efforts, gathered together nineteen small growers and founded the Produttori del Barbaresco. United once again, the small growers continued the work producing only Barbaresco wine and enhancing both the reputation of the wine and the village.
The Produttori del Barbaresco now has 51 members and controls more than 100 hectares (250 acres) of premium Nebbiolo vineyards in Barbaresco. Each family is in full control of its land, growing Nebbiolo grapes with centuries old skill and dedication. Even today, many of Barbaresco’s best growers are members, occupying the greatest sites and pooling their fruit. In lesser years, only one wine is made, but in great vintages, up to ten magical Barbaresco’s can be made: the often-astonishing flagship Barbaresco we present today (plus nine single-cru Riservas.) The proud past of Barbaresco and the dedication of its creators have made the Produttori one of the greatest producers in a great wine-producing area.
For this 2017 vintage, expect layers of spices, pepper and black cherries with red, ripe fruit and spicy flavors--balanced tannins and a lifted finish.
These are two wines ready to drink without waiting decades.