In January 2012 the very personable Franco Conterno came to our London Bridge offices to offer not one but two Aldo Conterno masterclasses due to huge demand. He took us through his extraordinary wines in the form of a mini horizontal acorss the 2005 vineyards and a mini vertical from 2004 to 2007. We started the evening with his white wine, 2008 Chardonnay Bussiador which was a fabulous rich wine that could easily have been from a top class Burgundy producer.
Then we settled into the following line up that could not have better shown the subtleties of the vintage and terroir:
The nose leaps out the glass with loads of fresh raspberries but this is far from simple with layers of complexity. The palate starts with all the acidity you would expect from a big, quite young Barolo but the flavours are rich with lots of deep juicy red fruits and a touch of spice that lifts the wine and gives a very clean finish.
The nose on the 2005 could not be more different from 2004, with less fruit jumping out but a more medicinal direction, perhaps some eucalyptus there. The tannins are silkier here as well, not filling the mouth but skipping through it and finishing on a slightly earthy note. It is very drinkable for such a young wine, almost ethereal.
Another wine, a different nose; there is a delicacy here and is more fragrant, makes me think of violets. The palate is where the wine comes alive with a lot of tannins adding weight to a core of raspberries, young strawberries and has a long finish with a clean note of tea tying it off.
The nose seems to be the liveliest of the straight Barolos with the generous fruit so ripe it is almost sweet and very red – strawberries, cherries, raspberries etc. The tannins are silky and do not appear until mid palate but carry it to a very long, very clean finish.
2005 Barolo Colonello
A subtle expression of the vineyard, it takes its time to come out of the glass and there is a definite not of spice, not just one but various like walking through a market. There is also a suggestion of earthiness which really shows on the palate which is very tight and closed just now. Young but with a lurking power and nicely balanced.
2005 Barolo Cicala
A lot of ripe red fruit here and there is distinctly more weight and acidity than next door vineyard Colonello. It is clear how this contributes to the overall blend as there is so much power here that will take years to mellow into a ready- to-drink wine.
2005 Barolo Romirasco
This one sat the longest before assessing the nose and in that time the chocolate had truly developed with dense waves of dark fruit. The palate is complexity embodied with spicy black and red fruit, an earthy hint of tea and more chocolate. It is sophisticated and comes with a huge structure but also so very young.
Lastly the final treat of the evening was 1996 Barolo Gran Bussia Riserva and what a finish it was. This, the palest wine of the evening, had a perfumed nose of lavendar, rose petals and dried fruit. Balance was the main feature of the palate with an astounding acidity for a 1996 and dark cherries with a hint of tar give a depth that finishes in a clean, tea-like finish. Still young!
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