By Martyn Zemavicius
We started our trip to Piedmont by climbing Gran Paradiso, the highest peak in Italy at 4061m, in the jovial company of friends and clients. It was a magnificent, but tough, 12-hour climb. More than enough justification to reward ourselves with three days of tasting the great wines of the region and sampling the delicious local fare.
Poderi Aldo Conterno
We kicked off our wine itinerary with a visit to one of the most famous producers in the region, Poderi Aldo Conterno. We were welcomed by Giacomo Conterno, one of Aldo’s three sons who have looked after the winery since their father’s passing. Giacomo’s hospitality was generous and warm in equal measure, and he treated us to samples of all the wines they produce, including their top wine Granbussia.
Poderi Aldo Conterno was established in 1969, but the Conterno family have been making wine since the 1700s. Traditionally minded visitors to the winery will delight in seeing the fantastic old bits of equipment they have used to produce Barolo wines over the years.
But the family are not slaves to tradition, and there is plenty to evidence the pursuit of high quality. Since 2001 they have cut yields, and the number of bottles produced has dropped from 200,000 to 80,000. They have also drastically reduced their use of pesticides, so much so that the family are happy for their children to run around playing throughout the estate.
They currently farm 26ha of vines (including 12ha of Nebbiolo) in Bussia, in the village of Monforte d’Alba. The picturesque vineyards are situated at around 400m above sea level, on some of the best south- and southwest-facing slopes in the area. These include the three celebrated ‘single cru’ vineyards of Romirasco, Cicala and Colonnello.
The winemaking style at Aldo Conterno can be expressed as traditionalist, but with a modern twist to make the wines more approachable to today’s wine lovers.
100% Nebbiolo fruit from the highest hills and the oldest vines on the estate (40-55 years old). Vinification included 60 days’ skin contact. 32 months of maturation in large Slavonian oak casks. Minimum of 8 years in the cellar before release. 4000 bottles produced.
Aromas of forest floor, mushroom, dark fruit and lavender perfume. Stunning depth. Elegance and power, silky smooth texture on the palate. Wonderfully long finish. 96 pts
100% Nebbiolo fruit from 50-55 year-old vines in the Romirasco single vineyard (3.8ha). 30 days’ skin contact, and 30 months’ ageing in large Slavonian oak casks. 4,960 bottles produced.
Amazingly intense nose, with notes of cherry and rose. Wonderful balance in evidence. Delicious, cherry-floral depth. Wow! 95 pts
100% Nebbiolo from 40-45 year-old vines in this single vineyard (3.2ha). Skin contact for 30 days. Matured for 29 months in large Slavonian oak. 5100 bottles produced. This is the only one cru selected to produce magnums.
Less floral, more earthy. Blood orange, lavender, earthy blackcurrant aromas.
On the palate earth, pomegranate, touch of herbs, dark forest berries. Amazing and with big potential. 94 pts
Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo DOCG Colonnello 2011
100% Nebbiolo fruit from 40-45 year-old vines in this single cru vineyard (less than 2ha). Aged for 28 months in large Slavonian oak casks.
Concentrated aromas of blueberry, lavender and pomegranate. Earthy red fruit on the palate. Elegant and round. 93 pts
To Be Continued…