Giacomo Conterno | Piemonte
The Giacomo Conterno winery is one of the greatest names in all of Piemonte. The estate was founded in the 1920’s by Roberto Conterno’s grandfather Giacomo from whom the estate gets its name. Giacomo was not the first in the family to make wine but he was the first to label the bottles with the family’s name. Giacomo’s father, Giovanni, had made Barolo from purchased grapes and whatever was not consumed at the family’s tavern during this period was sold in barrel, as was the custom throughout the region in the early twentieth century. Their flagship Riserva Barolo, Monfortino, was first conceived as a means of showing off the quality of their best wine and the first confirmed vintage to have been made was the 1924.
Giovanni Conterno passed away in the 1930’s and his son Giacomo took over running both the tavern and the winery. Giacomo had two sons, another Giovanni and Aldo, who were given the reigns of the family business in the early 1960’s. Giovanni (son of the estate’s founder) had vinified the 1958s with his father, and was responsible for the estate’s wines from 1959 onwards. Younger brother, Aldo Conterno was interested in experimenting with a more modern style of Barolo and so in 1969 they separated ways and Aldo Conterno decided to start his own winery. Giovanni continued making wines as his father and grandfather had done before them, making great, traditional Barolo of uncompromising quality.
Today, the torch has been passed to third generation winemaker, Roberto Conterno. Roberto worked side by side with his father for many years before his passing in 2004. Roberto himself is one of the most fastidious and perfectionist winemakers and many feel he has taken the winery to even greater heights than his predecessors.
The Conterno style of Barolo has always been ultra-traditional, with a long maceration followed by extended aging in large, oak casks (botti). In the old days, aging was anywhere from four to ten years prior to bottling, and often longer, sometimes with multiple bottlings from the same vintage. Today, the "regular" Barolos are aged for four years before bottling, and the Monfortino for six to seven years.
Like many top producers, in the old days, the Conternos made their Barolo exclusively from purchased grapes. The Conterno family sourced from some of the best growers in the commune of Serralunga d’Alba and/or Monforte d’Alba. In 1974, the Conterno family purchased the 14 hectare vineyard of Cascina Francia, one of Serralunga d'Alba's most choice parcels. The first vintage to be produced from this vineyard was the legendary 1978 and in 1979 the name of the vineyard Cascina Francia appeared on the label.
Today, the estate owns vineyards in three of the top Crus in the commune of Serralunga, having added Cerretta in 2008 and Arione in 2015. Today, there are three single-vineyard Barolo bottlings at Conterno, plus the Monfortino Riserva, which is only released when the wine possesses the right characteristics to be a “reserve wine”. Up until the 2014 vintage, both the Monfortino and the Francia bottling were sourced exclusively from the Cascina Francia vineyard. The grapes for these two wines are earmarked while they are still on the vine, with the vintage's very best grapes selected to become Monfortino.
In addition to the outstanding Baroli made by Giacomo Conterno, there is also Barbera d’Alba produced from both Cascina Francia and Cerretta. The Barbera are aged two years in large botti and are some of the most age-worthy and brilliant examples of this underrated grape to be found in Piemonte.