Annual Production (Grand Vin)
The Conterno crown jewel – Monfortino – was the very first Barolo made in what has come to be known as the classic style.
One of the greatest names in Piedmont, the Giacomo Conterno label started life as a modest wine bar in the village of San Giuseppe in 1908, run by Giacomo’s father Giovanni, who made wine from purchased grapes and sold surplus in barrels – the custom throughout the region at the time. The Monfortino – the label’s most legendary wine – was first conceived as a means of showing off the tavern’s very best efforts, and is thought to have been first bottled on its own in 1912 or 1920.
After Giovanni passed away, his son Giacomo took over the running of the tavern and winery. His sons, another Giovanni and Aldo, were brought into the family business in 1961, but the pair had different winemaking philosophies. Giovanni continued making wines as his father and grandfather had done – traditional Barolo of the highest quality – whereas Aldo was more interested in pursuing modern blends and contemporary takes. Aldo eventually went on to form his own estate: Poderi Aldo Conterno.
The Conternos purchased fruit from local farmers until 1974, when Giovanni bought the Cascina Francia vineyard in Serralunga. The first vintage was released in 1978, although the Cascina Francia name did not appear on labels until the 1980 vintage.
Upon his passing in 2004, Giovanni, who forged a reputation as one of the greatest Barolo producers, left the estate to his gifted son Roberto, who has continued the important work of three generations of Conternos; creating strictly traditional and globally renowned wines many claim to be the very purest expression of Barolo.
Despite Giacomo Conterno’s solid reputation and consistently high critic scores, there’s quite a spread to be had in the investment potential of its wines – born, no doubt, of the formidable reputations of some of the wines against others, and of course variable production volumes.
The Monfortino is widely regarded as the best Barolo to be had in Italy, and with a production of less than 600 cases – and only during exceptional vintages – you can expect to pay for it. The 2004 and 2006 vintages are performing steadily (with the former demonstrating more than 50% growth over the last three years alone), and if the performance of the 1990 vintage (which boasts two points fewer than the 2004, according to Robert Parker) is anything to go by – 143% over five years – we can expect to see very impressive long-term returns.
Elsewhere in Giacomo Conterno’s portfolio, prices are generally lower, and as such so are anticipated returns. Both the Barolo and Barbera Cascina Francias do well holding steady on the investment landscape, and at more affordable prices than the Monfortino, offer an accessible way to be part of this Barolo tale, which is set to only climb higher as evidenced by the estate’s performance on the Liv-ex Power 100 2013: 7th place for overall critic score, and an extremely respectable 23rd for investment performance.
Barolo Cascina Francia
The estate’s Grand Vin, the Barolo Cascina Francia is revered around Italy and beyond. Only made during top quality vintages, this traditional Barolo is rich, powerful, massively structured and capable of long aging in bottle.
Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia
Boasting fantastic structure with impressive fruit and acidity, the Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia has consistently won over critics with its commendable depth and concentration. James Suckling even claimed the 2011 vintage was “one of the best Barberas I have ever tasted”.
Barolo Riserva Monfortino
The jewel in the Giacomo Conterno crown, the Monfortino is widely regarded as the very blueprint for the perfect Barolo. Made only in exceptional vintages, the wine is aged for seven years in the bottle before release. Less than 600 cases of this legendary wine are produced every year, putting it in extremely high demand.