My Article: Differing Views In Piedmont – Giacosa & Conterno

July 28th, 2013

I was fortunate enough to visit two icon winemakers in Barolo a couple of days ago: Roberto Conterno of Giacomo Conterno and Bruno Giacosa. Both make classic Barolos and their wines are some of the most highly sought after in the world today – especially in Hong Kong and New York.

What was fascinating was to hear them talk about the 2010 in Barolo. Conterno believes that the 2010 may be one of his greatest vintages ever, and he has produced a powerful and rich Monfortino that I tasted from cask. The finish on the wine lasted for minutes. It was tannic and dense.

On the same day at lunch, Bruno and Bruna Giacosa told me that they have decided not to bottle their 2010, and have instead sold the wine in bulk. Bruno simply said he doesn't like the character of his 2010s. He did the same with the 2006, and I respect Bruno for his absolute resolve.

It's interesting how diverse opinions have become in Piedmont over the quality of vintages. I remember a decade ago when just about everyone agreed on what was an outstanding vintage. But that seems something of the past.

Perhaps this can be explained by the fine-tuning of viticulture and winemaking of each individual wine producer over recent years? They all have their personal way of doing things from crop thinning to macerations, and this changes the end result they have with every vintage, regardless of what nature gave them.

There are also mixed opinions in Piedmont about the quality of 2009 – particularly for Barolo and Barbaresco. I happen to think it’s an outstanding vintage overall that produced approachable, balanced Nebbiolos, though there were some disappointments.

Ultimately, I guess such differences in opinion make my job as a wine critic all the more interesting and important. I’m looking forward to helping keen consumers come to their own conclusions as I taste 2009s and 2010s from Piedmont this summer and next year. 

Hear what these top vinters have to say on famous Piedmont vintages from their own mouths. Six exclusive videos with Roberto Conterno where James tastes his 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and with Bruno where James tastes his 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2000


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