The Monumental 2015 Giacomo Conterno Barberas

2015 promises to be a Barolo vintage for the ages, yet it may have been even more ideal for Barbera, with the year’s warm summer perfectly balancing the variety’s hallmark bracing acidity.

And so it will surprise no one that Roberto Conterno has produced stunning 2015 Barberas from the Giacomo Conterno estate’s noble Serralunga vineyards of Francia and Cerretta. There is no greater or more consistent vignaiolo in the Langhe than Roberto who, over the past decade and a half, has fashioned brilliant Barberas even in years of less acclaim.

But give Roberto a great vintage and the results ascend to the pinnacle of what Barbera can achieve. That is just what we have in both 2015s. 

Barberas Apart

Roberto’s Barberas are, of course, cast in the traditional mold, which makes them unique in taste ... as well as in aging ability.

While modernist Barberas are vinified for early, and easy, drinkability, traditional Barberas offer a different aesthetic. They are much more like the Barolos from the same cellars.

Their aging ability also resembles Barolo. In fact, the old Langhe families even have a word for what happens to classically made Barbera when it ages: Baroleggiare, which means "to become like a Barolo."

And there can be little doubt that some of the very greatest of all traditional Barberas are made by the man who also sits at the top of the Barolo hierarchy: Roberto Conterno of Giacomo Conterno.

Co-existing with Nebbiolo

The secret to the greatness of Roberto’s 2015s starts in the vineyards. Here, Barbera vines occupy the same sacred earth as some of the most revered Nebbiolo vines on the planet. And Roberto’s Barbera yields are painfully low, concentrating both terroir and vintage character.

Second, the winemaking is both meticulous and utterly classic. The Conterno 2015s underwent a two week fermentation/maceration—with regular breaking up of the cap—in upright wooden vats. They were then aged for two years in the cantina’s large oak botti, the same vessels in which his Barolos are aged.

And finally, there is the 2015 vintage, a year of epic quality for Barbera.

But Roberto’s Barbera holdings are small, and so is our allocation. If you love great traditional Piemontese wine, you’ll want to hurry.

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