2013 Paolo Conterno, Barolo DOCG “Riva del Bric” Piedmonte, Italy.
There is a lot to get excited about with the 2013 Barolo vintage, and this beautiful and forward example from Paolo Conterno is certainly an easy wine to love showcasing the years warmth, its generous ripe fruit, classical texture and solid structure make it plain to see why it is a vintage to stock up on. These are wines that can be cellared for a long time, but also can be enjoyed in their youth, and this Riva del Bric Barolo in particular proving the point very well. The 2013 Paolo Conterno Riva del Bric comes from slightly younger vines, but in the best exposures of the glorious Ginestra Cru, making the Riva Del Bric one of the best values to be found in Barolo, especially so in a year like 2013. It shows depth and detail with Nebbiolo purity giving black cherry, damson plum and strawberry fruits, a hint of violets, earth tones, a whiff of volatile acidity, anise/fennel and spicy cedar. This is full bodied stuff and while opulent, still has old school charm and terroir.
The grapes were hand harvested well into October and saw almost three weeks of maceration, with primary fermentation in tank before aging for close to 36 months in large French Oak casks. The resulting wine sits nicely between modern and ultra traditional given hints of both, kind of like the best of both worlds.
One of Piedmonte’s most famous names, Conterno lends itself to many historic estates and figures in the region, one being the firm of Paolo Conterno, which was founded back in 1886, when Paolo Conterno founded the Casa della Ginestra, dedicated to the production of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto wines. Today the company is managed by Giorgio Conterno who continues the family tradition of making exceptional wines, especially his Barolo offerings. The Paolo Conterno wines are formed by the legendary Cru of Ginestra in the Monforte d’Alba zone, it is one the finest vineyards in the entire Barolo appellation. Its relatively high elevation of 300-350 meters above sea level combine with the dense, clay-heavy Helvetian soil to create masterpiece wines with dark colors, brooding tannins and incredible aromatics.
The wines of this estate have always been admired, but took a dramatic upturn when one of Domenico Clerico’s most talented, as importer Marc de Grazia notes, disciples, Massimo Conterno (no relation), moved to the cellar at Paolo Conterno in 2004 to give Giorgio Conterno a hand in winemaking, raising the game and putting this label into elite company.
While less in need of cellaring like the monumental 2010, the 2013 offers the same thrilling profile, being more explosive in nature than the lighter and less expressive, but fruity and drinkable 2011 and 2012’s, it reminds a little of 1997 and 2007 in style. This Riva del Bric is confident and compelling in the glass, you will not be disappointed in it’s performance, it should drink impressively for another decade if not longer and for the price it is an excellent choice to open now, guilt free. This garnet hued Nebbiolo is sturdy stuff and is best with robust cuisine and decanting should be employed to get it open, an hour makes a world of difference.
($45 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive