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Aldo Conterno is one of the historic names of Italian wine. The Conterno family has been making wine in Monforte d’Alba since at least the 1700s. Aldo’s grandfather, Giovanni Conterno, founded his own winery in 1908, which was later run by his son Giacomo before being handed to the next generation — Giovanni and younger brother Aldo.
Striking out on his own in 1969, Aldo acquired a prime vineyard area on the Bussia hill, including plots now recognised as being among the finest Barolo crus: Colonnello, Cicala and Romirasco. Bottled as single-site wines, these parcels together form the coveted ‘Gran Bussia’, made in limited quantities and only in the best years.
Throughout the 1970s, Aldo became known for his progressive approach. Having previously spent time working in his uncle’s winery in California, he was open to change, yet also upheld those elements of traditional Barolo winemaking he felt best showcased the Nebbiolo grapes.
An early supporter of shorter maceration times to tame Barolo’s tannins, Aldo resisted the modernist use of barriques with these wines, continuing to use extended ageing in large oak casks. While some Barolo producers identified themselves as traditionalists or modernists, Aldo Conterno remained in a class of his own. He died in 2012.
Aldo’s sons are the fifth winemaking generation of their family, with Stefano making the wine and Franco and Giacomo managing the business. Their quality-led philosophy and focus on producing wines that best express their unique vineyards, have ensured this family estate remains one of the most respected in the Barolo region.
Over the years, production has been deliberately reduced to increase quality. From the same 25 hectares of up to 60-year-old vines, the family now produces 80,000 bottles rather than the 180,000 made in 1998. This intensity shines through in the wines.
The Barbera ‘Conca Tre Pile’ is elegant yet rich with the classic Barbera zip on the finish. The elegance of the ‘Colonnello’, scented with a silky texture and lovely mineral finish, contrasts with the more structured ‘Cicala’, which stands out with a length and grainy tannin structure that few wines can match. The ‘Romirasco’ is perfumed, intense, ripe and mineral with great length and superb tannins. The Romirasco vineyard, situated on the highest point of the hill of Bussia, provides 70% of the fruit in the Barolo ‘Granbussia’, giving aromatic intensity, length and balance to the wine.
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