Robert Parker 100
The Giacomo Conterno 2014 Barolo Riserva Monfortino is made with 100% fruit from the Francia cru, which is not the case for the 2015 vintage (that sees 22% Arione in the blend) or likely future vintages. In a sense, this 100-point wine represents a milestone or a chapter finale in the long and exciting trajectory of Italy’s collected and revered Monfortino. I’ve had the great fortune of tasting this wine from barrel over the course of four years and twice again this summer during my visits to the Conterno estates (in Gattinara and in Monforte d’Alba). Roberto Conterno has long been referring to 2014 as "the vintage of his heart." There had been challenging rain during the summer, but by the end of August, Roberto knew that a window of warm and dry weather could make 2014 "the vintage of the century," he tells me. On cue, the skies opened, and the sun came shining through in September and lasted through harvest in the second half of October. As a result, this was a very long growing season and that is something the Nebbiolo grape loves most. You taste this in the tannic quality of the wine that is long, silky, elegant and firm. That quality texture and structure will carry this bottle over a half century of bottling aging, or more. From an analytical point of view, this 2014 vintage is the most tannic Monfortino made in 30 years, but you’d hardly know it thanks to the smooth integration displayed here. The wine’s bouquet is nuanced and fine with redcurrant, mint, blood orange, toasted aniseed, baked clay and tarry smoke. Initially, you get a savory touch of succulent grilled meat that adds to the "chewy" quality of the wine that Roberto Conterno often attributes to his favorite vintages of Monfortino. A note about corks: Extreme care is dedicated to quality control, and each of the 4,000 to 5,000 corks ordered for this wine are sniffed by human noses on team Conterno before making the cut.
Anticipated maturity: 2027-2060
Another last minute addition to this tasting, the 2014 Barolo Riserva Monfortino is a preview, as it had not been officially released at the time of this tasting. In fact, guests at this dinner were the very first people to taste the 2014 outside the winery. And in magnum! I am glad they did, because the 2014 has subsequently closed down, at least in magnum. The 2014 spent a year less in barrel (six years instead of seven), but its release date was the same as always, as if it had spent seven years in cask. That means that by the time it arrived in the market, it had been in bottle for more than a year, which is quite unusual, as the wine is usually bottled in the summer and then shipped immediately a few months later. I always advise readers who want to taste Monfortino young to do so right upon release, before the wine starts to shut down. That was virtually impossible with the 2014. But on this night, it was spectacular, with that intoxicating mix of soaring aromatics, silky fruit and nearly imperceptible tannins. I don t know what else I can say.
Anticipated maturity: 2029-2054