Even overshadowed by a large presence, a new generation of winemakers can build upon and refine a historic name. Franco Conterno of Poderi Aldo Conterno illustrated his family’s journey in winemaking through the centuries, highlighting what he and his brothers are continuing with the lauded Barolo label.
“Our philosophy in our generation is to have the perfect balance in our wines,” Conterno told the audience. “And for us, the ‘place’ is our goal.” And that place is in the village of Monforte d’Alba, in the hamlet of Bussia, bordering Castiglione Falletto.
Conterno is one of three sons of the late Aldo Conterno, widely considered to be one of the masters of Barolo. Aldo brought a “modernist” sensibility to his wines, combining that with classical Barolo methods; counter to his contemporaries, he shortened the lengthy time Nebbiolo spent macerating on its skins, believing the wines picked up too many harsh tannins that way.
At Aldo Conterno winery, the grapes continue to be hand harvested, and the red wines are neither clarified nor filtered. In 1998, the family decided to slash their yields by half; low yields remain a priority, and today less than 6,700 cases are produced a year.
Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson noted that 2014 was a relatively rainy year for Barolo. The Conternos became concerned about whether they could make their single-vineyard bottlings—Colonnello, Cicala and Romirasco—from the vintage. Yet, Franco said, they decided to move forward, making strict selections parcel by parcel, giving the vintage this label's distinctive “polish.”
As a result, the single vineyards showed more individuality from property to property that vintage. To demonstrate that, Conterno poured the Barolo Romirasco 2014 (93 points)—from one of the oldest vineyards in Bussia, dating to at least 1875—which was marked by notes of toasted vanilla, cherry and tobacco.
“The 2014 is very feminine Barolo,” remarked Conterno. “It has a class and finesse that exalts the character of the terroir from Bussia.”