Giacomo Conterno

About the Producer: 
The spacious cellars of the ultramodern winery that carries his fathers Giacomo’s names seem out of character with Giovanni Conterno’s philosophy of making wine. For if brother Also follows techniques that qualify as traditional, certain of Giovanni’s methods might be considered antediluvian. He vinifies his Barolo for some 35 days on the skins (the current norm is less than 2 weeks) and ages the reserve Monfortino for at least 7 years in old casks (DOGC requires 2 years). Yet even admires of new-style Nebbiolo concede the Monfortino is a monument to Barolo, a wine of massive structure, soaring bouquet and rich, ripe flavors that manage to be both bold and elegant. Monfortino was named fort he family’s home town of Monforte d’Alba when Giovanni’s grandfather first produced it in 1912 from acquired grapes. Today it originates in the neighboring village of Serralunga d’Alba, in a privileged plot amid the 14 hectares of vineyards of Cascina Francia. There Giovanni Conterno and son Roberto produce a second Barolo, as well as Barbera and Dolecetto d’Alba, that carry the name Cascina Francia. In all, they produce from 60,000-80,000 bottles a year. Towering over all is Monfortino, a wine which from the latest available vintage is 1990, was greeted with unprecedented critical praise. Giovanni, courtly and taciturn, is modest about his accomplishments. “I make Barolo by the old method because that’s the only way I know,” he says. “I keep things simple: no clarifying, no filtering. I wouldn’t be capable of learning new techniques or using barriques.” Yet no doubt influenced by son Roberto, he installed stainless steel vats with computerized temperature control. “They are convenient,” Giovanni admits. “You know, before we built here, I did everything by intuition, even staying in the old cellars all night to be sure I didn’t miss those vital moments. Well, I’m getting on in years and I guess I need my sleep.”