Barolo has always been one of the most interesting wines in Italian history, both for its quality and for the period during the 1970s known as the Barolo Wars. As such, we always consider it a pleasure to look into the history of some of the top producers of this particular type of wine, as it offers us the opportunity to learn more about the companies that make it what it is.
With that in mind, this week’s piece will focus on Aldo Conterno, which is a winemaking company that can trace its roots back to the 19th century. Of course, we would be remiss to now also take a look at one of the best wines that they have produced in recent years as well, so expect to find one of the best Barolos on the market at the end of the piece.
The Conterno family’s time in the wine industry has been marked by a number of journeys to foreign soil, but the company always manages to find its way back to Italy. This started in the 19th century, when the forefathers of the company emigrated to Argentina in the hopes of establishing a wine business in South America. While we know that the Argentinian wine industry has become remarkably successful in the modern day, back then a number of family issues forced the Conternos back to Italy in fairly short order.
Their response was to redouble their efforts and focus on the Italian wine industry. Giovanni Conterno made the first step, bringing the family back to the small winemaking farm owned by his father Giuseppe in Monforte d’Alba. Once there, he started to help with the production of a number of local wines for which Giuseppe had received some acclaim, but Giovanni’s ambitions were much bigger than simply the local picture. Upon his arrival, production began to increase enormously and the family soon started selling their wine in casks. This not only allowed them to expand upon their reputation in Italy, but also allowed to export the wines they produced to the Americas, thanks to a relative who had stayed over in Argentina.
As demand for their product continued to grow, the company felt that the time was right to enter the Barolo market and create a version of the wine that would be capable of standing apart from the others on the market. With that in mind, they began crafting their version of the wine, which would be limited by the fact that they would only select the very best grapes to be used in its creation, also engaging in a long vinification process that would allow it to be capable of lasting over a long period of time.
All of this hard work led to the first bottle of the company’s Barolo being bottled in the 1920s. It wasn’t long after that Giovanni handed the leadership of the company over to his son, Giacomo, who was tasked with continuing to expand the company’s business interests in addition to creating more quality wines. He took advantage of the reputation that the company’s Barolo was beginning to receive, spending time to visit clients personally in order to ensure their continued loyalty to the company’s products. This period also allowed him to establish his own label in many regions of Italy.
As Giacomo dedicated more of his time to the company his sons, Giovanni and Aldo, both began helping him to run the business. During the mid-1950s, Aldo made the decision to move to the United States in order to create a winemaking business in California. Though he eventually returned, the period was noted as being one of the most useful in the continued development of Aldo as a winemaker and he returned from the United States with a host of new ideas that could be implemented once he began working at home again.
It was not long after this time that Aldo and Giovanni took the reins of the company, with Giacomo handing over the leadership to his sons in 1961. By this point Conterno had become a thriving business, building a reputation for creating some of the greatest wines in Italy.
Though he dedicated himself fully to the continued success of the company, the time spent in the United States had lit a fire within Aldo, he was determined to create his own winemaking company. After ensuring that business would be maintained and the company was left in good hands, Aldo splintered away to set up his own.
This led to the formation of Aldo Conterno, following the purchase of the Favot farm in 1969. Aldo continued to create spectacular wines, including the Barolo that we will examine today, before handing the company over to his sons, Franco, Stefano and Giacomo, to continue the work that he began.
Aldo Conterno has been crafting truly superb Barolos for a number of years now, with the 2011 vintage being particularly remarkable for its high quality.
The Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2011 features a beautiful red colouring with edges that appear slightly rusty and offer an almost translucent appearance.
To the nose, the wine features a complex mix of aromas. Alongside leather and citrus peel you will find vanilla, sweet rose petal and damson plums. All of this creates a tantalising mix of flavours that truly reach their potential when introduced to the palette.
To the taste, the wine is tight and fresh, with the notes of leather continuing to be well pronounced. You will also notice a number of new flavours making their way to the fore, with sour red cherry and dry anise being the most noticeable of them.
All of this combines to make one of the most complex and interesting Barolos that is currently on the market. The wine has been commended in a number of publications for its quality, so if you enjoy Barolo, or Italian red wine in general, it is definitely worth considering this as your next purchase.