Saturday, 27 December 2014

HV Wines: Chateau Lanessan Haut-Medoc 1995




I came across this wine the other day laying there in a dusted wooden crate, and when I saw the vintage I could not resist to quickly check the price. This wine was in sale as it needed to go as its lifespan is really coming to a close, so the price tag was darn good, €13 £16.35 $24.40 so I took a couple.

Not many wines with old vintages are to be found in wine shops, bars, restaurants except of course if you can afford to pay the mother load of prices for the big Châteaux or Clos for that matter.
Here we have a wine reaching its 20th anniversary at a very affordable price and from a Château that seems to do a very good job.



Château Lanessan Haut-Medoc

In 1793, Jean Delbos a negociant in Bordeaux buys the Chateau, which at the time had 24 hectares of vines.
In 1878, the architect Henri Duphot finishes the construction of the Chateau as it stands today with the winery.
1907, Marie-Louise Delbos, granddaughter of Jean Delbos, marries Etienne Bouteiller.
In 1960 their son, Jean Bouteiller, increases the surface of the Chateau to 80 hectares, if which 45 is for Chateau Lanessan and the rest for Chateau Saint Gemme which they bought.
In 1962 the son Betrand takes over the direction of the Chateau after the death of his father.
In 1972, Betrand leaves the gestion and the running of the Chateau to his brother Hubert.
In 2000, they install a thermo-regulation system on all they tanks.
In 2004, a grape selection system is put into place to assure the optimum quality grape is used for their first wine.
During the last couple of years the family put into place several systems to improve the best for their wines, like improving the vineyard, the winery, new grape selecting tables to they can improve their accuracy and a management system in the vines to improve the environment of the soil and the vines.  

The terroir 

In an environment of 80 hectares of which 45 in vines, Château Lanessan is situated in Cussac-Fort-Medoc near Saint-Julien in the Haut-Medoc. The soil is mainly gravel and roots that can go very deep. The vines have an average age of 30 years and the domain is surrounded by 145 hectares of forest.

The grape variety sits as followed:
60% of Cabernet-Sauvingon
35% of Merlot
4% of Petit Verdot
1% of Cabernet Franc

First wine Chateau Lanessan 220.000 bottles produced average a year
Second Wine Les Caleches de Lanessan 90.000 bottles produced average a year

Château Lanessan Haut-Médoc 1995

At first glance this is a very classic label which somehow give you a sense of confidence and tradition. This is a Haut-Medoc with a punch and determination.

Visual
The wine looks mature and aged, the colours are running towards a brick red colour which is a sign of age, look around the rim and it will confirm the brick rim colour. This wine is getting 20 years of age and it looks still solid and impressive. The legs are medium and holds only  12.5% of alcohol volume. It is definitely a wine that does not dance in nightclubs any more, but more books, open fire talkative company style wine.

Nose
At first almost immediately smells of leather appear, with animal hints, some little appearance of cabbage, which go as quickly as it came. With the constant airing of he wine, the ripe red fruits appear on the foreground but they are feeling weak and show sign of age. The overall assembly of smells is not super prominent but for a wine close to its 20th birthday and from this price bracket, I am still surprisingly impressed. Red berries and cherries are the two most remarked smells, as said leather and animal smell are prime here.

Palate
Remarkably it hold still some good tannins which for Bordeaux is key to their wines, tannins is good for ageing. Here they are still present, the wine is soft almost velvety and a sense of history envelops in your mind as each of us thinks of where he/she was in 1995..... the red fruits are overripe and aged and the oak is truly settled and almost gone. The finish is fairly long and pleasant.

Conclusion
Well this wine has given me a sense of joy and pleasure, a real bargain of a wine, but even so buying the younger vintages, this wine is set at a very respectable price and crafts a good attitude. It is a Haut-Medoc that can stand the crowd and will be for many a pleasant and enjoyable wine. Sure it might not look like a St-Julien or Pauillac but as in all commercial aspect a brand is these days also something you are willing to pay for. So maybe it is time to look beyond the likes of Margaux, St-Julien, Pauillac and St Estephe and seek something maybe less flashy and impressive but as much enjoyable.

Score
This wine merits  17.50/20 or 75/100 (rated as a good wine 17-17.9 70-79)

Until next time please do drink responsibly

Sunday, 14 December 2014

HV Wines: The perfume of wine dominant: Flaws part 12


Finally after such a long journey through the perfume of wine have we arrived to the last chapter, this one is crucially important, as it helps you detect what should surely not be in a wine; THE FLAWS (French Defaults).


Alcohol

Ethanol, synthetic molecule. Ethanol is a major composition in wine. Produced by yeast during the transformation of the sugars, you notice it a lot in unbalanced wines, by a degree of alcohol to high compared with the other elements in the wine. Ethanol has little odour, although sometimes it can give you some vegetal facets. The nose perceive it especially as a tactical heat sensation, as well as in the mouth.

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Alcohol: Ethanol

Wines containing relevant notes of Alcohol
All wines are susceptible to the smell of alcohol, as it is the main composition after water. However in most wines the alcohol is well integrated with the other components and doesn't reveal itself on the nose, or very little. 

Smells close to Alcohol
Grass

Rancid butter

The composition of the perfumer. Butter has a conservation time relatively weak. Once past that level, under the action of oxygen, it becomes rancid and it releases a very peculiar smell.
Sun light and heat increase its process even faster.  In certain countries, they add rancid butter to tea, especially in Tibet. Traditionally prepared with Yak milk, it answers the important energetic needs of a population undergoing a harsh climate. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Rancid butter:  Butyrate de methyle

Wines containing relevant notes of rancid butter
A very rare smell, that you can at times perceive in oxidized wines who have gone through the malolactic fermentation.In general white wines are easier affected by rancid butter then red wines. 

Smells close to Rancid butter
Butter, Cheese, Mango

Rubber

The composition of the perfumer.
Natural rubber is issued of latex, a product principally extracted from "l'Hevea Hevea brasiliensis"  a tree originally from the Amazon. Cultivated in tropical regions, it is to be found in south-east Asia, Africa and south America. 
Latex is not a component of the sap of the tree, but more a product implicated to the defence of the tree. Like resin, it oozes the wounds, it forms a sort of protection by drying and forms a crust.  

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Rubber: Disulfure de carbone

Wines containing relevant notes of Rubber
The smell of rubber can appear in wines with problems of reduction. It can also be due to bad usage of pumps during the vinification, but this is rather very rare. 

Smells close to Rubber
Birch tar, Stagnant water

Stagnant water

Synthetic molecule of the smell of stagnant water, is a consequence of consecutive stagnations due to a lack of flowing water. By a lack of air, the diluted components enter a stage of decomposition and produce its characteristic odour. In wines, the smell of stagnant water, can notably come from defective closure , or during the vinification, when there isn't enough oxygen given. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Stagnant water: Methanethol

Wines containing relevant notes of Stagnant water
This smell is to find back in wines short of oxygen or reduction.

Smells close to Stagnant water
Rubber, Cabbage, Onion. 

Cork taint

The synthetic molecule. Cork is a product of the bark of the oak cork tree"Quercus seber". Originally of the Mediterranean world, it is in abundance, especially in Portugal. Even so there are different causes of appearance of cork in wine, many are due to the mold action "Penicillium". Those produce notably "Trichloroanisol", from the components present inside the cork, following the way it is fabricated or the way they stock it. Other then its imposing smell, cork taint often is perceive tactilely on the palate by a nasty drying sensation and in worst cases a total absence of the structure and fruits. It makes your senses send immediately a sign of alarm that something is wrong with the wine. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Cork taint: Trichloroanisol

Wines containing relevant notes of Cork taint
This note characterizes wines in bottles where the cork is defective, often sniffing the cork that was in contact with the wine is enough to detect it. On the nose is can be at times very faint which makes it sometimes a bit harder but on the palate you should get confirmation when your mouth dries really badly and gives you a immediate reaction of rejection.   

Smells close to Cork taint
Cork, Earthy-musty taste

Earthy-musty-taste

The composition of the perfumer remembering the smell of earthy-musty taste.
You encounter this smell when the earth isn't sufficiently aired or asphyxiated by the presence of water in to big quantities. In wines, it can appear due to cork taint from a defected cork, a lack of hygiene with the vinification materials, or due to the action of some undesirable bacteria. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Earthy-musty-taste: Ethyle fenchol

wines containing relevant notes of Earthy-musty-taste
Although much easier to detect in old wines, then in young, this smell is very rare. 

Smells close to Earthy-musty-taste
Patchouli, Peat

Rotten egg

Composition of the perfumer. Hydrogen sulphur is produced naturally by the degradation of protein containing sulphites. This degradation is often the origin of bacteria. 
In wines, this molecule is formed from sulphur present but in small quantities. Most of the times it is due to action of the yeasts who are lacking oxygen, or a deprivation of nitrogen nutrients.   
The products to treat the vines or the sulphur dioxide addition in the wines can foster its appearance. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Rotten egg: Sulphur d'hydrogene

Wines containing relevant notes of Rotten egg
Very rarely frequent in the bottle, this smell of reduction is noticed during the vinification. In general it just appears in certain stages in the making of the wine. It disappear most of the times, or it evolves towards other reductions, like notes of onion, garlic, stagnant water.

Smells close to Rotten egg
Cabbage, Stagnant water, Onion. 

Soap

The composition of the perfumer in reproducing the smell of neutral soap. 
The first soaps appear to have been fabricated by the "Sumerians" about 4500 years ago in the actual; middle east of today. The hard or liquid soaps, are composed especially from greasy acids. They have the properties to contain a fixing part of the molecules, that water can not remove, and another part that let it take away by water. 
In wines, decanoic acid  is a fatty acid produced by the yeast during the alcoholic fermentation. It can react with ethanol and produce another component, ethyl caprate which evokes as well the smell of soap. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Soap: decanoic acid

Wines containing relevant notes of Soap
Unusual, but this notes is sometimes favoured in sparkling wines. 

Smells close to Soap
Few smells have common elements as with that of soap, although certain of its aspects can at times made you think at the smell of chalk.

Sulphur

Synthetic molecule. 
Used as a conservative, this molecule is also produced naturally by the yeasts during the alcoholic fermentation. Our nose smells it principally in a tactile way. An adding to important of the sulphur anhydride is the cause of it. 
The origin of the sulphur anhydride in wines dates back to the plantation of the first modern vines in North Africa, in the beginning of the 20th Century. Having difficulty to function from 40 degrees Celsius, the yeasts leave the place to bacteria which transform the sugar in components little desired. The adding of sulphur anhydride permit to prevent the development of bacteria, all in reducing the yeasts, who ferment in a much more tranquil and better way. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Sulphur: Sulphur anhydride 


Wines containing relevant notes of Sulphur
Only very rare wines containing an important quantity of sulphur anhydride reveal this smell.

Smells close to Sulphur
Very few smells have anything in common with Sulphur, very aggressive, certain of its aspects made you think of a match before lighting. 

Nail polish

The synthetic molecule remembering the smell of nail polish. 
The Chinese seemed to have been the first to use nail polish about 5000 years ago. The composition then had little resemblance with the modern nail polish, which derives from the auto mobile industry created in the 1930. 
In wine the molecule of the acetate ethyle is produced naturally by the yeasts and the bacteria. It also appears in reaction between ethanol and acetic acid (the smell of vinegar).

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Nail polish: Acetate ethyle.

Wines containing relevant notes of Nail polish
All wines are susceptible to have a nail polish smell, even so that the majority does not reveal it at all. It all depends from the conditions during the vinification, notably the protection regarding the amount of oxygen used.

Smells close to Nail polish
Vinegar.

Vinegar

Synthetic molecule. Vinegar is issues from a transformation of alcoholic drinks by acetic bacteria in presence of sufficient oxygen. In wines, the smell of vinegar can be caused by the yeasts in the first fermentation, or by the lactic bacteria who open during the second. 
The origin of vinegar is linked to wine, we can find back the first traces of vinegar around 5000 BC in Mesopotamia, actual Middle-east and Egypt. 
Mixed with fruits, herbs or even flowers, it was a widespread beverage. It was also quickly used for its therapeutic properties, notably for disinfecting wounds of war, when alcohol was in short supply. It was Louis Pasteur who identified at first in 1864, one of the bacteria responsible for the transformation. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Vinegar: Acetic acid

Wines containing relevant notes of Vinegar
All wines are sensible to have the smell of vinegar, even so the the majority of wines will never reveal this smell. Once again here as well it all depend of the conditions during the vinification regarding oxygen control. Although that sometimes we use the term vinegar in certain wines, especially sweet wines. 

Smells close to Vinegar
Nail polish.

The end word. 
For the amateur or even the professional, wines is a complex product. Trying to approach its bouquet following innovative voice which propose this series, inspired by the perfumer and Neurophysiology, will permit yourself to understand better.
All along the chapters you could begin to get a grip to the origins of the smells in wines, the detection, followed by your brain treatment. Also the categories in which the elements are classed will help you to understand better the wines, Do not hesitate to use these series, you will see after awhile that you will get better in detecting and analysing. Also if you can afford to purchase the smell box with all the elements, it will make you  pro in the world of wine and very few will be able to fool you.

This was a long series, that I had to translate but I did and I learned a lot

 Till next time please do drink responsibly. 


Sunday, 7 December 2014

HV Wines: The perfume of wine dominant: Mushroom and Mineral part 11



The before last part of this long journey through the perfume of wine. It has been a very interesting step for me as I learned more about the detail in the bottle. One can never learn enough.

Mushroom

Button mushroom (Paris mushroom)

The composition of the perfumer. The button mushroom "Agaricus bisporus"  grows naturally on all continents. It is the mushroom the most cultivated of them all in the world. The United States, China, Holland and France are the largest producers. Button mushroom holds its name due to its discovery in the early XIX Century, in ancient Parisian quarries where the soil was covered with horse manure. The partial obscurity and the manure permit to the mushroom to develop itself in a optimal manner. Later the French production was moved to the city of Anjou, a region where there were numerous quarries. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Button Mushroom: Octenol

Wines containing relevant notes of Mushroom
Notes of button mushroom are often indications of evolution in a wine, as much for white, rose or red. Furthermore, you find button mushroom in several grape varieties, such as; Chardonnay, Chasselas, Chenin......

Smells close to Button mushroom
Yeast, Oakmoss, undergrowth

Yeast

The composition of the perfumer. Yeasts are present in the air and on the ground. Used by men since millenniums without knowing their true nature, it is only in 1857 when Louis Pasteur discovered the action of yeast in the fermentation of  wine. They are also used for other product, especially bread and beer.
During the alcoholic fermentation, the yeasts transform the sugars contents that finds itself in the must into alcohol. This transformation is accompanied by the synthesis of other fragrance or none fragrance. The principal production composition is CO2, at about 50 litres per litre of must. The CO2 is a toxic and odourless gas, that's why you have to be extremely careful during the fermentation process.

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Yeast: Heptanoate d'ethyle

Wines containing relevant notes of Yeast
When used in preparing wine, bread, or beer, yeast possesses always the same smell. By their prolonged contact with the yeasts, sparkling wines and wines raised on lees are susceptible to produce perfumes close to that of yeast.

Smells close to Yeast
Very few smells have common points with yeast, although certain aspects do regularly think to pastries smells or even button mushrooms.

Truffle

The composition of the perfumer. Producing the smell of black truffle, there exist about a hundred species of truffles, from the "Tuber" variety. Since antiquity, only a few species are used in gastronomy, one of them is the black truffle "Tuber melanosporum",  almost exclusively developed Europe, especially in France, Italy and Spain.
Much wanted in gastronomy, the species of truffles with the highest quality reach stratospheric prices, up to thousands of Euros per kilo. The most rare of truffles is the white truffle "Tuber magnatum", also known as the Alba truffle, which is principally found in Italy in the Piedmont region. Their harvest is often accompanied by a truffle trained dog or pork. Trained from a young age, these animals become quickly highly skilled researchers in hunting down those mushrooms. Always tricky to be able to separate the dog or pork from the truffle before they eat it, as like all good hunters they love to eat it especially the pork.

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Truffle: dimethyl sulfide, Bis methylthiomethane

Wines containing relevant notes of Truffle
Sometimes very intense, the truffle can be detected in wines composed from grapes such as: Cabernet-sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache noir, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Pinot noir, Syrah......You might also encounter it in Jurancons wines, Sauternes or old white wines, rose and reds.

Smells close to Truffle
Button mushrooms (Champignon de Paris), Cabbage.

Dominant Minerals
Minerals are always fairly difficult to detect, as they are for most of them discreet and not so prominent as flowers, fruits, spices........




Chalk

The composition of the perfumer. The chalk stick today are principally constructed out of plaster, itself extracted from the Gypse mineral. The Gypse is a sedimentary rock able to date back up to 250 million years. They are principally formed with the evaporation of the salty water planes. 
Although that chalk isn't a pronounced smell, the olfactory remembrance of chalk sticks we used at school to write on the black board, can act like Proust's madeleine (a micro-event that remember us something from our youth).
Sniffing a chalk stick, often remember us to our school years.

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Chalk: Sulfate de calcium

Wines containing relevant notes of Chalk
Many sparkling wines reveal notes of chalk, like the Cavas, Champagnes, Clairette de Die, Cremants. Certain grapes manifest regularly notes of Chalk, as; Arneis, Chardonnay, Chasselas, Chenin, Merlot, Romorantin, Sauvignon blanc....

Smells close to Chalk
Very few smells have anything common with chalk, although some other aspects made you regularly think at other facets of the mineral family. Minerals like Flint, and Peat.

Iron

The composition of the perfumer. The sulphate of iron "FeSO4" can form naturally from the oxydation of the iron ore, like "pyrite and marcasite" . But most of the time iron sulphate is fabricated by iron dissolution in sulphuric acid.
Iron on itself has not smell, so why do we smell one, when we manipulate? In contact with our skin, metal forms molecules who reacts with the fat from our skin. Follow the smell characteristic of iron. The same molecules are released by our blood.

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Iron: Sulfate de fer, Octenone

Wines containing relevant notes of Iron
Intense, the smell of iron, isn't looked for in wines. Discreet, you can detect it in wines issued of grapes like; d'Assyrtiko, Carignan, Humagne blanc, Pinot noir, Syrah....

Smells close to Iron
Very few smell have common characters with iron, although certain of these aspects made you think of other notes of the mineral family, such as flint, petroleum.

Iodine

The composition of the perfumer reproducing the smell of Iodine. Iodine is an earth bark element which we find back in sea water. Often attributed to Iodine, the maritime smells, are essentially due to the salt and to animal and vegetal substances that can mix into the smells, like algae for example.
The cretinism disease could be due to an iodine deficiency, the expression "Cretin des Alpes (Moron of the Alps)". owes its origin. Indeed, the principal sources of Iodine are salt, fish, algae, so the mountain populations found it difficult to procure it in the past. The moron case was then more frequent amongst the mountain populations then the others.

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Iodine: Iodine

Wines containing relevant notes of Iodine
Reminding marine smells, notes of iodine can flurry in many grape varieties, principally in whites, even so that red grapes are not exempt; Chasselas, Chenin, Mouvedre, Muller-Thurgau, Muscadet, Petite arvine, Picpoul, Riesling, Vernaccia.....

Smells close to Iodine
Cucumber, Fucus, Melon, water melon. 

Petroleum

The composition of the perfumer. Petroleum is a natural mineral oil, essentially composed of organic remains, transformed into hydrocarbons and trapped in a impermeable geological formation. The most ancient known deposits date back to 500 million years ago. The refining of petroleum is done according to a method used for many alcoholic drinks; distillation. 
In wine making no distillation intervenes directly to the procedure, although they use it notably for the production of Cognac and Armagnac. It is also used to distil products such as fortified sweet wines. 

Principal Components 


Smells/Molecules

Petroleum:  Trimethyle dihydronaphtalene

Wines containing relevant notes of Petroleum
The perfume of petroleum is frequently found in wine who are evolved. In young wines, we can encounter it in many different wines, such as; Aglianico, Chenin, Montepulciano, Nerello mascalese, Sylvaner, although the grape where you notice it the most is of course Riesling.

Smells close to Petroleum
Very few smells have common points with petroleum, although certain of its aspects do regularly think at other notes of the mineral family, such a flint. 

Flint

The synthetic molecule where the smell reminds us of the action where two pieces of silex are rubbed against each other. Flint is a weapon priming which was used since the 16th Century, replacing the wicks and other older systems. Weapons still functioning with flint are extremely rare. But we still find lighters where the spark is produced by rubbing flint against a metal piece. 
The stone in question is more often constituted by a metal alloy then that of silex, but the smell which is produced is close to that of flint. 

Principal Components 

Smells/Molecules

Flint: Benzylmercaptan

Wines containing relevant notes of Flint
The grapes producing notes of flint are in abdundance. Here a short list of those grapes most represented on the market: Aligote, Altesse, Assyrtiko, Chasselas, Chardonnay, Chenin, Falanghina, Fiano, Marsanne, Pinot blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Rauschling, Syrah, Vernaccia.......

Smells close to Flint
Very few smells have common points with flint, although certain facets makes you regularly think of other notes in the mineral family, such as petroleum, chalk. 

Peat

The composition of the perfumer. Peat is a fossilisation of humid vegetative remains of micro-organism in an environment little oxygenated and saturated in water. Its formation ask for most of the time some thousand of years. You find peatland in many areas, especially in Canada, Untied States, Russia and Indonesia, 
Peat is sometimes used in the elaboration of Whiskey, all produced from malt.To get it, it is necessary to proceed to malting, that is to say, germinating the barley to transform the starch which contains de sugars. When the degree of germination is obtained and stopped, its interruption is carried out and disaggregating the malt with hot air. That's what they call the kilning. This could be performed by means of a peat fire, giving very characteristic notes to certain Whiskies, notably those of Islay island in Scotland. 

Principal Components 


Smells/Molecules

Peat:  Ethyle phenol, Creosol

Wines containing relevant notes of Peat
Often very recognizable, the smell of peat manifest from time to time in the Madera wines, old red wines, as well in wines elaborated from the Barbera grape, Pinot noir, Syrah......

Smells close to Peat
Coffee, Castor, Oak, Birch tar, earhty-musty taste, Patchouli, Horse sweat.

So here we have all the perfumes that you will find in wine. It is a rich and elaborated exercise and one that should be nourishing you in getting to grips with all aspects wine.
Now the last one which surely maybe the most important one, knowing when a wine is faulty.

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

HV Wines: Roberto Conterno the undisputed master of Barolo



For those who have a weakness for Barolo and with honesty, I am one of them, here is someone who truly masters the craft to the King of Italian wine.

Roberto Conterno 

In 1924 his grandfather Giacomo, was a pioneer with his Monfortino, more than 90 years ago. His father Giovanni bought the first vines at Serralunga d'Alba, and Roberto follows the line of his family's DNA and has been able to give to the domain in Piedmont a world class recognition, and seen by many as true master winemakers.

The landscape is breathtaking, you only need to leave Alba and go to the heavens of Barolo to understand in a couple of minutes. The panoramic views open up to you, and if a creator was looking for a perfect viticultural design, then surely here would be the perfect place. The picturesque sight is post card perfect, with steep hills, planted with vines and forest, scattered over the landscape.
A rural mood where it feels that hardly anything has changed for centuries. A way of living unmoved unchallenged, full of charm, like at the Chateau Grinzane Cavour, where for ages each year in the autumn, the world auction of the famous white truffles is held, another treasure from the Piedmont. At the beginning of the Autumn you will cross along pathways and roads those men with their dogs on the hunt for their white gold.

In the zone of Langhe, classified as world heritage by Unesco, and Barolo only an hour south from Turin. Here woven in the landscape are small parcels of vines planted, in this magic terroir, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba, La Morra, Novello, Barolo, Verduno, Diano d'Alba.......to name some. As here each parcel expresses itself deeply different to the other with great distinction, and it is not for nothing that rumours go around to classify this zone into Premier Cru and Grand Cru Barolo.

That is something that sits a bit strange for Roberto Conterno. According to him it is to forget a bit to quickly the role of the winemaker, of course the grape is essential and the great terroirs have the capacity to produce the exceptional, but once in the cellar it is the winemaker that interpreter the terroir. Sure we make clear and precise choices, who do have an influence, that is absolutely clear, our prime philosophy is as follows; transfer 100% in the bottle what the grape transcend from the vine, in a couple of words, bring the terroir inside the bottle and lose nothing along the way. The fermentation is the key to the process, inevitably a percentage of the unknown always lingers till the end, but after the fermentation the essentials are written.

In Serralunga d'Alba, his vines at Cascina Francia 14 hectares of it, totally dedicated to Nebbiolo. Here without a doubt you enter in the category of the exceptional terroir. After weaving through the rural pathways from Monforte, you arrive at the top of the terroir of Serralunga. There the incredible view as if you sit in a amphitheatre, dropping down literally into a wild forest ahead, we sit here at an altitude of 450 metres, with a 100 metres high difference to the bottom row of the vines. The visual beauty is intense and beautiful. The row of vines straight and strong are as impressive as the Chinese golden army. The style character of the vines is typical Piedmont, steep hills, dense rows of vines over two metres high.

The climate around here is idealistic, as the mountains bring the necessary freshness for the grapes to cool down, after the long hot days. Winter brings the needed cold to the vines, so it can produce healthy and strong grapes the following year. With sea air from both sides (as Italy is fortunate to be shaped the way it is), it brings the necessary humid and rain to give this region its name as the star region of Italy.

It is in these vines that Roberto Conterno made his first steps into the family line of talent. In the 50's and 60's there were those that produced the grapes and those that made the wines. From the 70's that has begun to change, the sons of the wine maker have begun to become producers of the grapes, as they understood that it was massively important to hold the scissors that cut the grapes from the vine. They were many of them to follow the trend and so suddenly there was a great quality grape on the market and many great producers to. It was in this context that his father bought Cascina Francia in 1974. He wanted absolutely settle himself in the terroir of Serralunga d'Alba, where the soil was ground limestone marl, giving the wines more minerals and great structure. In 1978 it generates the Barolo Cascina Francia and the Barolo Monfortino, a reserva produces with the best grapes in the best years, and commercialised minimum seven years after harvest.

The house Giacomo Conterno has weaved its first sons in its history a long time ago, even before owning their own vines, almost 100 years ago. Giacomo Conterno the founder and the first in the family to be a winemaker and to hold a bottle with his own label. In 1920, after the war, he decided to produce Barolos, wines who walk the centuries and age gracefully with wisdom and intensity. This is the beginning of this remarkable Monfortino, where the first vintage was produced in 1924. His son Giovanni and now his grandson Roberto have follow suit and steer the house in the path it stands today. The exact name of the domain is; "Giacomo Conterno di Giovanni Conterno", to equally honor his father,  Roberto. My grand father had a vision and my father took it further with buying Cascina Francia, he made sure that his fathers vision was protected.

In 2008 Roberto buys Cerretta, 3 small hectares of parcels, with 2 hectares in Nebbiolo, and 1 hectare in Barbera, situated in the zone of Serralunga d'Alba equally. The difference between the wines is that those from Cascina Francia are more mineral with sapidity and refinement, those of Cerretta are more structured with more fruit and are softer. Roberto Conterno has succeeded his challenge in 2008, offering two majestic Barolos totally different from each other.

Table of vintages from 1990 to 2010 Barbaresco and Barolo
(rated from 1 to 5, 5 is excellent 1 is bad)
1990: 4
1993: 2
1995: 2
1996: 5
1997: 4
1998: 3
1999: 5
2000: 4
2001: 5
2002: 2
2003: 2
2004: 5
2005: 3
2006: 4
2007: 3
2008: 4
2009: 3
2010: 5 

Giacomo Conterno vintages 

Barolo Cascina Francia
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Best vintages: 2006, 2004, 2001, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1990, 1989, 1985

Barolo Riserva Monfortino

Best Vintages: 2006,2005,2004,2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1990, 1987, 1985,1982, 1979, 1978, 1974, 1971, 1970.

A truly remarkable wine and family. I had the opportunity to taste (and a taste it just was) Giacomo Conterno di Giovanni Conterno, I still remember it is heaven in a glass and states Italy's immense  talent and one of the best wines the world holds.

If have the funds and want to give yourself a treat don't hesitate, it will take you on a journey, you wished when the last drop comes out of that bottle that it by magic fills itself up again.

Until next time please do drink responsibly.