Last spring I had the good fortune to accompany Burton Anderson through the Piemonte. Author of Vino, Anderson was touring the cellars to research an article on that picturesque, mountainous region which gives us Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto, and the finest Barbera of Italy. Thanks to the esteem the vintners have for Anderson, I tasted countless beautiful wines, got a good look at the 1978 vintage, but saw nothing to shake my conviction that in Vietti and Aldo Conterno we have the two producers who are making the best Piemonte wines today. Aldo Conterno wouldn’t settle for less. He works from pride. By coincidence Aldo lived in the Bay Area for a few years and has relatives here. He knows that they buy his wines in the shop. Only wines of unquestioned excellence are offered on a pre-arrival basis, and in exchange for advance orders we offer a low price. Conterno’s 1978 Barolo merits this special pre-arrival offer. The 1978 vintage is finer than the 1971 and 1974. It produced big wines which will provide pleasure for decades. Oh if I could sell you his ’53 Barolo right now—that’s the job I want!—but the way the wine market is now, you’ll have to cellar this one and wait on it. It’s as dark as blackberry juice. Big deep aroma; roast coffee bean, violets, and heaps of berry-like fruit. A rich wine, almost 15° alcohol, but it is not at all raw or vulgar. Instead the impression is one of tremendous depth of flavor, perfect ripeness, and great style. The harmony of tannin, acid, and fruit is reminiscent of the great Côte de Nuits Burgundies. The wine, in a good cellar, will endure and evolve indefinitely.To read about our newest producer from Barolo, Giulia Negri, read Anthony Lynch's piece here.
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