The vineyard where he came from, Francia, is something that makes Conterno very unique in Piedmont. Most vineyards in Piedmont are used by many different producers. Francia, on the other hand, is a monopole. That means that Conterno owns the entire 45 acre vineyard and makes all of his wine from there (except for the seven acres he bought in a different vineyard 6 years earlier).
Everything we tasted with Roberto was straight out of the cask. None of it was ready to be bottled. We tasted three wines, one barbera and two nebbiolo. Those are the only types of wine that Conterno makes. He used to produce dolcetto, but recently ripped up the vines and replaced them with barbera. Tasting notes below.
This was fresh and fruit forward. As Roberto was quick to point out, this wine is meant to be drunk young, less than five years in his opinion. It has high acidity and much less tannin than wines made from nebbiolo. Very enjoyable.
Roberto mentioned that this was still young and had the firm tannins and structure to prove it. I think that this would definitely mellow with some age. But this wine had power. Roberto mentioned that this is the point when he is deciding whether he will make a riserva Monfortino or not. Since he only makes the Monfortino in exceptional years, it will be interesting to see what he decides. Based on what I tasted, I wouldn't be surprised if this became Monfortino.
This was a real treat. Smooth, silky tannins with brilliant acidity, cherry, cassis, licorice, tanned leather and nice aromatics. And based on the structure I tasted, this wine is still a baby. It needs several more years to fully develop, but when it does, it'll be quite a pleasure to drink. I'll be impatiently waiting for this to be bottled.