Table Key: N = Non-Reserve, R = Reserve, X = None Made, * = Special Label.
Notes, History, and Some Non-Barolo Labels
- The winery began in 1908 when Giovanni Conterno started an osteria (tavern) and
made wine in the village of San Giuseppe, and significantly expanded when his son, Giacomo,
returned from World War I. During this time, their wine was sold in large barrels in Italy and Argentina
(where Giacomo was born and they still had family).
- According to A Wine Atlas of the Langhe, in the 1920s, father and son (Giovanni and Giacomo)
decided to bottle their best wine as a riserva, and this is how Monfortino was born.
Consistent with this, the Wassermans wrote:
"According to Carlo Petrini, Giuseppe Conterno produced his first Monfortino, the 1920,
from grapes grown in the Le Coste vineyard of Monforte."
But then added "Other reports suggest that it was made in 1912.
Giovanni and Aldo Conterno told us they don't recall the date of the first one,
only that it was prior to the First World War."
The Giovanni referred to in this quote is the son of Giacomo not the father.
The book Barolo: Tar and Roses says that Monfortino was first made by Giovanni in 1912.
- Giovanni the father died in 1934. Giacomo ran the winery and the osteria.
- Giacomo Conterno ran the winery until 1961, when he turned it over to his two sons, Giovanni and Aldo Conterno.
The Wassermans report that Giovanni and his father Giacomo made the 1958 Barolos, but that Giovanni made the
wines by himself starting in 1959. This Giacomo passed away in 1971.
- Aldo wanted to experiment with new winemaking techniques, so in 1969, Giovanni and Aldo Conterno split the winery.
Aldo went out on his own, founding
Poderi Aldo Conterno.
- In 1988, Giovanni's youngest son, Roberto Conterno, joined his father in the winery.
- Giovanni Conterno died on 18 February 2004 at the age of 75.
He was widely mourned as one of the giants of Barolo.
Roberto now runs the winery and makes the wine.
Barolo and Vineyards
Cascina Francia Vineyard
- In 1974, Giovanni Conterno purchased the entire 14-hectare Cascina Francia vineyard
in Serralunga d'Alba.
- Here is a photo of Cascina Francia vineyard
taken from the winery by Rune Rake in 2010.
- At the time of purchase, the land was not being used for vines,
so the entire vineyard was replanted in 1974.
- The G. Conterno winery has not used purchased grapes since that time.
No G. Conterno Barolo was made in 1975, 1976, or 1977.
- 1978 was the first vintage in which both Barolos were made exclusively from Cascina Francia grapes,
though the vineyard name did not appear on the Barolo until the 1979 vintage and
it has never appeared on the label of Monfortino.
has a nice story from John Kapon that "Giovanni asked his wife by what means they could consolidate their business.
She logically replied that they should purchase their own vines, nurture the vitis vinifera themselves to control quality.
He discovered a vineyard whose entire crop was being sold to other growers and
its acquisition meant that they gained exclusivity,
Mrs. Conterno reasoning that higher quality and prices would yield financial returns."
- Monfortino is not a vineyard. It is a name invented for their top bottling at some point
early in the 20th Century.
- Since 1974, when they purchased Cascina Francia, it has been made only from this vineyard.
- The Conternos only make Monfortino when they feel the quality warrants it.
- Monfortino is sometimes made in vintages that generally don't have a good reputation for Barolo in general,
but Monfortino can be surprisingly good in these years. For example, Monfortino was made in 1968, 1969, 1987,
1993, and 2002, all considered mediocre or even poor quality years for Barolo.
- On the other hand, no Monfortino was made in 1989, arguably the best vintage in Barolo between 1978 and 1996.
The reason for this is not entirely clear.
Giovanni Conterno has stated that it did not have the requisite balance.
I've wondered if that was a euphemism for something worse that happened as the wine was developing.
The Cascina Francia vineyard was hit hard by hail early in 1989.
Initially, Giovanni said he might make no wine at all in 1989!
Eventually, he bottled a Cascina Francia, but at about 30% of his normal total production of Barolo.
Thankfully, he did, because it's quite a wonderful bottle of wine.
Perhaps not among the best Monfortinos, but among the best Cascina Francia certainly.
- Another generally good vintage in which no wine was produced at all by G. Conterno is 1986.
There was a devastating hail storm that swept through the region. Many vineyards were completely wiped out.
Other were untouched. It was actually a pretty good vintage for those that made wine.
Giacosa even made a Falletto Riserva.
- In 2008, Roberto Conterno bought a three-hectare parcel in the Cerretta Vineyard
in the north of Serralunga d'Alba. (Cascina Francia is in the far south of Serralunga d'Alba.)
- The first two vintages are just labeled 2008 Nebbiolo d'Alba
and 2009 Nebbiolo d'Alba, not Barolo, because Roberto Conterno
felt that the quality was not yet up to his standards.
- We have heard reports that the 2010 is outstanding and will be labeled as Barolo.
- In addition to two hectares of Nebbiolo, Conterno's parcel includes one hectare of Barbera.
A Cerretta Barbera d'Alba was from this vineyard starting in
Other facts about Barolo bottlings
- In some vintages (up to and including 1980), both a non-riserva Barolo and a Barolo Riserva were made
(not including Monfortino).
In these cases, these wines may have been bottled at different times, but from the same lots of wine.
So the only difference between a "Barolo" and a "Barolo Riserva" is that the Riserva spent more time in cask.
- In each vintage, all Monfortino is from the same lot. Even if some bottles say "Riserva" while others
say "Riserva Speciale" or "Stravecchio", these are all from the same cask and bottling.
There was only one bottling of Monfortino in each vintage.
- Large bottles (over 10 liters) of Monfortino were produced in some vintages.
Pictures of some large bottles.
Other Wines: Barbaresco, Nebbiolo d'Alba, Barbera
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All original content © Ken Vastola