I went up to Piedmont over the weekend and stopped in to see Aldo Conterno, one of the great Barolo masters. His wines have such refinement and delicacy, yet they have structure and richness to age for decades. His single vineyard Barolos from the area of Bussia near the town of Monforte d¹Alba are a legend: Cicala and Colonnello. I tend to be a bigger fan of the former, which I find has a bit more structure to the Colonnello. However, many Barolo fans are crazy for his blended riserva Barolo, called Granbussia. This is a wine made from three vineyards: a selection of the best grapes from Cicala and Colonnello, as well as grapes from Romirasco. The wine can be massive and muscular, but sometimes very closed. My favorite in recent vintages has been the 2000 that shows intense layers of bright fruit and velvety tannins. But the 2001 and 1999 are excellent as well.
Aldo, 76, has decided to release a few hundred cases of special big bottles of the 2001, 2000, and 1999 Grandbussia: 3-liter, 5-liter and 1.5-liter, respectively. Check out my video blog:
He wasn't sure exactly when the wine will be available, or the price, but it should be out sometime next year. It's a great package in wooden cases.
"The wines are bottled according to the greatness of the vintage," he said to me. "The 2000 is the best, followed by the 2001 and 1999."
I tasted the wines from the different bottles and the 2000 was, indeed, the very best. Here are my non-blind tasting notes:
1999: Wonderful chocolate and mineral character with fresh porcini and hints of truffles. Full bodied and super silky. Very crisp and lively. Hard not to drink now, but will improve with age. Better than I remember. 92 points, non-blind.
2000: Amazing clarity to this wine with crushed raspberries, mineral, fresh flowers, orange peel and milk chocolate. Crystal-clear aromas. Full and super velvety, with fabulous fruit. Layered and so wonderful. Balanced. Great, great. Best after 2012 but so fabulous now if you decant it a couple of hours before! 97 points, non-blind.
2001: Very dark fruits of blackberries and plums with lots of mineral. Full bodied and very chewy with firm and big tannins. Hints of oak with lots of chocolate and berry. Fabulous tannins. Needs loads of time. Best after 2013. 94 points, non-blind.
I tasted the wine with Aldo and his son Giacomo, as well as my tasting coordinator Jo Cooke, and a David Gleave, a wine merchant friend from London.
"It's so pure, the 2000," said Giacomo. "The 2000 has the most incredible balance. It is in harmony with the tannins and fruit. It's extraordinary. You didn't make a mistake saying 2000 was an extraordinary vintage!"
We all agreed that the 2000 Granbussia was the knockout. In fact, we drank some more of it during dinner with a number of courses with white truffles. Stay tuned for a short video blog on that on Wednesday.
Alas, Aldo wouldn't be drawn on his favorite wine. "Some wines are just one instrument," he said. "These Barolos are an orchestra."
Horacio Campana / Butler Me — Monterrey, Mexico — October 22, 2007 8:38pm ET
Steven Balavender — Tampa, Fl — October 23, 2007 1:57pm ET
Stephan Katz — Chesterfield, MO — October 25, 2007 5:02pm ET
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