2008 Barolo Cascina Francia Giacomo Conterno

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Average critic rating : 95.0 points



The 2008 Barolo Cascina Francia possesses gorgeous inner perfume, layers of sublime fruit and fabulous overall balance. Plums, dark cherries and licorice are followed by darker notes of graphite and tar as the wine opens up in the glass. Today, the 2008 is much less expressive than it has been the many times I have tasted it from barrel. It will be interesting to see how the 2008 develops and whether it puts on weight or remains more of a mid-weight, gracious Barolo. Either way, it is fabulous. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2048. ||A stop at this historic cellar in the center of Monforte is always fascinating, as no one keeps Barolo longer in cask than Roberto Conterno, giving the visitor a chance to taste numerous wines all in various stages of their maturation. If forced to pick a favorite recent vintage, I would vote for 2010, a year in which all of the wines are fabulous. Next would be 2008 and 2006, two super-classic years. Robero Conterno is by far the most enlightened of the traditional producers in Barolo. I don’t think too many producers taste their wines as often as Roberto Conterno does, but what really separates Conterno from the overwhelming majority of his peers is his intense intellectual curiosity about the world’s great wines. The Conterno wines remain traditional in interpretation, but they are also clearly the work of a winemaker living in his time and not the past. This set of new releases is full of highlights, but the Barbera from Conterno’s Cerretta vineyard is particularly of note because it is the most improved wine in the lineup. When Conterno purchased this plot in 2008, he told me it would take 2-3 years to get the vineyard into top shape. When I asked him recently where he was in that process, the answer was, “Ninety percent.” Readers should note that the two flagship Baroli, Cascina Francia and Monfortino, were especially shut down every time I tasted them this past summer. Conterno bottled a month earlier than normal this year, and I think that is the reason the wines were particularly impenetrable. Readers may also want to take a look at my previous reviews, based on barrel samples, for greater context. Wine Advocate.October, 2012


For any wine collector, Giacomo Conterno is a name that makes you sit up straight and pay attention. Widely acknowledged as the most majestic examples of traditional Barolo, these wines are some of the most thought provoking heavy-hitters known to the wine world. Power, massive structure, richness tempered with delicacy and the ability to age beautifully for 30+ years are just some of the reasons for Conterno’s world-class reputation.


The winery, established in 1908, initially conformed to the way other producers in the region made Barolo; in cask or demijohn suitable for early consumption. In the 1920s Giacomo Conterno set his sights on making a higher quality Barolo that could age for decades. He started by extending maceration periods extensively and began aging his wines in large wooden botti. The shift in quality kept the winery afloat during difficult economic times and eventually led to the ability to purchase the Cascina Francia vineyard in the 1970s.


Cascina Francia is one of Piedmont’s greatest sites and the exclusive source of Conterno’s Baroli – Monfortino and Cascina Francia. The densely planted 14 hectare site boasts southwest exposure and sits 4,000 metres above sea level, offering ideal conditions for deep tannins and big, ripe acidity. This vineyard is the key in producing Conterno’s powerful, age-worthy style of Barolo.


In great vintages, Barolo Monfortino Riserva is made from a selection of the best fruit. It is vinified differently than Cascina Francia, first undergoing an uncontrolled fermentation at a high temperature, followed by an additional three years of maturation in cask. Antonio Galloni remarks “Baroli Cascina Francia and Monfortino... rightly considered by most observers as among the most profound wines in the world.”


Today, the winery is run by Roberto Conterno, who benefits from the wisdom and legacy of his late father, Giovanni, and grandfather, Giacomo. The winemaking is still rigorously traditional with long fermentations followed by periods of 7+ years in cask, practices reminiscent of other great Italian producers Gianfranco Soldera and Giuseppe Quintarelli. This powerful style of Barolo continues to shock and amaze those lucky enough to open them.


Made in tiny quantities of only around 1,000 cases per year, this is a hugely desirable and collectable wine with a rarity factor similar to Petrus in Bordeaux and Domaine Romanée Conti in Burgundy. Highly rated by Antonio Galloni, the vintages 2010, 2004, 1999, 1978 and 1970 are among some of the most sought after wines in the world.


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