March 28, 2006

Giacomo Conterno tasting at Liner & Elsen

A week ago Saturday saw yet another terrific event at my favorite wine shop in Portland, Liner and Elsen.

This time it was the wines of Giacomo Conterno, one Barbera and three Baroli, all at no charge. Pouring was Bob Liner of Galaxy Wine Co., a Portland-based wine distributor, alongside Roberto Conterno in town from Italy.

The wines of G. Conterno fit the traditional house style, showing very young and mostly unforgiving early on. Yet these are all wines of quality, even if I can't afford any but the first.

As G. Conterno no longer produces Dolcetto, we began with the 2003 Barbera Cascina Francia. Healthy dark ruby in color, this is ripe and even a bit roasted aromatically with a fleshy texture and good length with healthy but unobtrusive acids. If all '03 Barbera are this good, wow. Even at $26, this is a deal in top quality Piemontese wine that tastes good now but should hang on for several years.

Then the Baroli, designated Cascina Francia as are all the wines of this Serralunga-based producer. First the 2001 Barolo, in three words tight, tight, tight. Floral aromas with nice red fruit but criminally young.

Second, the 2000 Barolo, which is ripe as this warm vintage would suggest, but with young and stern acidity, mouthfilling but in need of time.

Finally, the 1999 Barolo, the most expressive of the three today but again simply too young for complete enjoyment. More tar and floral aromatics, tannic in the mouth but promising.

With each of the Baroli priced at $110, I can't exactly recommend buying. But if you like ageworthy, authentic Barolo, and you have the cash, you'd be hard pressed to find better things to toss into the cellar.

You might also make sure you're young. These are wines for drinking in 20 or 30 years, especially the 2001.

3 comments:

Ted said...

It's "Barbera". I know you know that, but I had to say it anyway. I also liked it, but whenever I tatse somebody's wine for the first time and it is a 2003, I always wonder what it would be like in a normal year. I imagine these are still good.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Thanks for the edit, and the good natured pedantry. I'd like this to be a command base for wine pedants the world over, but I better get things right in the first place if I ever hope to achieve that goal. And yes, Conterno BarbEra is always good in my experience. And the dolcetto was terrific, especially for the mid- to upper-teens price. Alas, no more.

Ted said...

Pedant am I. Where did I put my red pencil?