For the thoughtful and gregarious Roberto Conterno, he admits the wine he produces “belongs to his father (Giovanni) and grandfather (Giacomo).” As one, they raise the bar for the Nebbiolo grape, which, of the 4000 plus varieties that take up residence in Italy, is considered by many to be the finest.
Before 1970 the Conternos could produce their Barolos by relying on small, independent farmers who worked their old, low-yielding vines. But those farmers began increasingly to make their own wines. Threatened with the loss of their fruit sources, Giovanni acquired Serralunga's great Cascina Francia vineyard in 1974. With its fabulous exposure, and predominately calcareous soil, the site was perfect for the powerful Conterno style. Soon, the Cascina Francia vineyard became the sole source of their wines.
The deal is, Conterno makes a Barolo from the ‘Cascina Francia’ vineyard in only the best years, called ‘Monfortino’. Those bottles are highly-elevated in stature and can hammer above $1000 on the auction market. The estate has owned the entire vineyard since 1974 but they also have a block of Barbera planted within that cru. Now I am not saying this is an eye for an eye situation. What I am saying is that for a highly elevated combination of soils, micro-climates, sun exposure, vine age, and savvy farming, this could very well be the best example of Barbera available today. It is like taking the technology and designers from Ferrari headquarters and having them create an economy car.
If you want to eat the best pizza in your life, pair it with this bottle of wine.