Haute Wines: Poderi Aldo Conterno – a Piedmontese Dynasty

Poderi Aldo Conterno is part of one of Barolo’s iconic wine making dynasties. The son of Giacomo Conterno, arguably the best Barolo producer of all times, set his sights on his own winery due to a difference in philosophy with his family and in 1969 established Poderi Aldo Conterno in the village of Montforte d’Alba. Determined to create a Barolo in his own unique style, Aldo acquired three cru vineyards on the glorious Bussia slope – Colonnello and Cicala and eventually the Romirasco – during a time when it was customary to purchase grapes. In a trailblazing move, Aldo e famiglia began tending to and vinifying their estate fruit. Today, estate grown fruit and single vineyard Barolos are now commonplace.

Is it accurate to say Aldo Conterno wines are modern? Absolutely not, but they do indeed combine tradition with innovation. Adamant about producing wines of place and impeccable quality, they retain traditional character in their Barolos but take a decidedly modern application on the rest of the wines aging them in new French barriquesBussiador, Il Favot, Conce Tre Pile and Langhe (blend); the Barolos are aged in large Slavonian casks between 26 – 30 months, depending on the cru, and then bottled. Their Riserva bottling, Barolo Granbussia, is aged 36 months in cask and 2 years in stainless steel prior to bottling.

Only the most exacting care and meticulous methods are employed in P. Aldo Conterno’s wine production. So much so, the estate would rather sell their crop during off years than bottle under their label or declassify wine. After five generations of wine making, wine is their equivalence of lineage and history, never compromising quality for profits, never seeking public approval or latching on to trends. Keenly aware of its family identity, the current generation of Conternos continues to propagate the viticulural expression of their beliefs having opted to hold back their Barolos in 2002, 2003 and the 2004, 2007 Granbussia. How else could Aldo Conterno come to have been recognized as the “King of Barolo”?

This week’s Haute Wines is an ode to a Piedmontese legacy whose precision and focus is unparalleled.

Poderi Aldo Conterno, Granbussia, Piedmont, Italy, 2001, $250 – A blend from their three cru sites (typically 70% Romirasco, 15% Colonnello, 15% Cicala), this riserva is all about elegance. The vines from the vineyards, at this point, are between forty and fifty years old yielding concentrated, intense fruit. But as opposed to being opulent, powerful and imposing, Granbussia is delicate and aromatic laden full of layers dark cherries, sandalwood and licorice.

Poderi Aldo Conterno, Il Favot, Piedmont, Italy, 2005, $85 – 100% nebbiolo from all vineyard sites, it is made with the younger berries (under 20 years) and aged 2 years in barrique. Il Favot is classic nebbiolo with aromas of plums, cherries, licorice, tar and flowers. Although this wine is meant to be consumed young, the tannins are somewhat aggressive and drinkers would be better served putting it to rest for a couple of years.

Poderi Aldo Conterno, Bussiador, Piedmont, Italy, 2006, $50 – Literally translated to “Gold of Bussia,” this chardonnay certainly doesn’t lack humility or personality. Not a wine for all, it is aged in new French barriques, clearly present, and boasts an opulent nose full of apples, honey, cream and spice. The same reflects on the palate. Somewhat over the top, it does not possess the elegance that has made Aldo Conterno such a reputable producer. Preferably consumed in a few years,

Classic Piedmontese Degustation Menu:

Carne Cruda – Fassone Steak Tartar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt

Tajarin con Ragu di Coniglio – Hand Cut Egg Pasta, Rabbit Ragu

Bue al Brasato di Barolo – Braised Beef in Barolo

Zabaglione di Moscato – Moscato Sabayon

Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, visit www.epicuriouschic.com and we can assist in sourcing these wines. Follow me on twitter @epicuriouschic.