Giacomo Conterno Ceretta Barolo (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2015
Regarded as Piedmont’s greatest producer of Barolo, Giacomo Conterno founded his eponymous estate in the early 20th century. The ‘Cerretta’ vineyard was purchased in 2008 and has only elevated the winery’s knockout line up. The wine is elegant and ageworthy, marked by fragrant notes of red fruit, forest floor, and tobacco. Bright acidity and gritty tannins ensure a long, complex life ahead.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
After our tasting of the two Barbera wines, we moved over to 40-hectoliter cask number 101 to get our first taste of Conterno's finished (or nearly finished, as the wine had not been bottled yet) Nebbiolo. The 2015 Barolo Cerretta is influenced by the warm conditions of the vintage with plenty of ripe and succulent fruit, although this vintage differs from the similarly warm 2017 and 2011 harvests in that the 2015 growing season had more moisture locked within the soil. Consequently, this vintage tends to offer cool-climate tannins and structure, giving the wine the ample backbone it needs to carry all those luscious dark nuances. The wine is ripe, profound and makes your mouth salivate.
Very Burgundy-like, featuring a silky texture wrapped around cherry, raspberry, earth and tobacco flavors. As this builds on the palate, the dense, muscular tannins remind you this is Barolo. Reticent now but shows promise.
These majestic wines descend from a colossal legacy, spanning three generations of Conternos: Giacomo, Giovanni, and Roberto—in each case, the torch passing from father to son. Both Giovanni, who forged a reputation as the greatest of all Barolo producers, and now his gifted son, Roberto, have continued the important work of patriarch Giacomo.
Roberto Conterno is quick to say that the wines he makes belong to his father and grandfather. Yet his era may prove to be the most exciting. After all, Roberto benefits from the wisdom of both Giacomo and Giovanni. And Roberto has shown that he shares not only their genius, but also their devotion to tradition and history.
The center of the production of the world’s most exclusive and age-worthy red wines made from Nebbiolo, the Barolo wine region includes five core townships: La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and the Barolo village itself, as well as a few outlying villages. The landscape of Barolo, characterized by prominent and castle-topped hills, is full of history and romance centered on the Nebbiolo grape. Its wines, with the signature “tar and roses” aromas, have a deceptively light garnet color but full presence on the palate and plenty of tannins and acidity. In a well-made Barolo wine, one can expect to find complexity and good evolution with notes of, for example, strawberry, cherry, plum, leather, truffle, anise, fresh and dried herbs, tobacco and violets.
There are two predominant soil types here, which distinguish Barolo from the lesser surrounding areas. Compact and fertile Tortonian sandy marls define the vineyards farthest west and at higher elevations. Typically the Barolo wines coming from this side, from La Morra and Barolo, can be approachable relatively early on in their evolution and represent the “feminine” side of Barolo, often closer in style to Barbaresco with elegant perfume and fresh fruit.
On the eastern side of the Barolo wine region, Helvetian soils of compressed sandstone and chalks are less fertile, producing wines with intense body, power and structured tannins. This more “masculine” style comes from Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba. The township of Castiglione Falletto covers a spine with both soil types.
The best Barolo wines need 10-15 years before they are ready to drink, and can further age for several decades.
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo, named for the ubiquitous autumnal fog (called nebbia in Italian), is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area, as well as in the neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it reaches its highest potential in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. Outside of Italy, growers are still very much in the experimentation stage but some success has been achieved in parts of California. Somm Secret—If you’re new to Nebbiolo, start with a charming, wallet-friendly, early-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba.