~ Vintage Barolo literature at Marchesi di Barolo ~

Aldo Conterno was a master.  Barolo from Bussia is iconic.  See where this is heading?

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 12 years since Aldo has left us.  But in that time, I’ve had the pleasure to taste with his son Franco and hear is assurances that he and his brothers would continue the legacy that Aldo built.  He has clearly done that.

Back in 2020, when I last reviewed the 2015 Bussia, I wrote the following about the style of Conterno’s wines.  I think it’s holding true.

“Unlike anywhere else in Italy, there is a fierce stylistic divide in Piedmont over the best way to produce Barolo. Their are staunch traditionalists like Giacomo Conterno and Bartolo Mascarello and their are Modernistas like Scavino and Sandrone.

Poderi Aldo Conterno has always fallen somewhere in the middle. It’s a task that must be handled deftly, yet Conterno succeeds. A quote of Aldo’s from the late 1990’s, when he began reducing his role in the daily activities of the winery, resounds with me. “Today we can make cleaner, fresher wines of great color, richer fruit and softer tannins, but without losing the noble stature that is unique to Nebbiolo.”


~ The Cicala Vineyard is one of Aldo Conterno’s gems ~

The 2015 Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia is a deep garnet color that shows a lighter ring around the rim of the bowl.    The aromas are unmistakable here.  I toted this bottle along to a local Steakhouse and some of the diners were not familiar with Barolo.  The scents of roses, fennel and earthy mushroom which contrasted the deep cherry fruit were easily discernible by everyone.  It’s a text book nose.

On the palate the cherry fruit is rich and concentrated.  Framing the large core of fruit are toasted baking spices, new leather and dusty, mineral driven tannins which provide wonderful structure but do not impede the fruit.  This is luxurious wine and the steaks melted the tannins away.  I love this wine and reassert my previous review. A bargain in Barolo.  96 points.  Find this wine.


~ The current vintage of this wine (2018) is priced at $79 – an admirable effort to keep prices in line, especially with the market trends at play ~

Amazing vineyards in Barolo are not hard to find.  Along with my love of Bussia we can count Cannubi and Brunate on my list of favorites.  But if there is a vineyard under the radar, it’s Sarmassa.


~ A historic bottle of Barolo rests in the cellars of Marchesi di Barolo ~

Barolo was born at Marchesi di Barolo.   In fact, in the first half of the 19th century, because of Nebbiolo’s harsh tannins,  Barolo was vinified as a sweet wine.  In fact, in 1787 Thomas Jefferson, a lover of Italian wine, wrote:  “These are as silky as Madeira, as astringent as Bordeaux and as brisk as Champagne.”   It wasn’t until the intuition of Marchesa Giulia di Barolo, that the wine took on it’s current style.  

I’ve written about Sarmassa many times.  It never disappoints and it often stirs emotions.  The vineyard is in the northern part of the commune with ideal southeast exposure.  At 270 meters above sea level, it’s lower than some.  But that allows for slightly earlier ripening.  In the case of Marchesi di Barolo, the vines are approaching 50 years of age and the complexity in the fruit is noteworthy.


~ An amazing Barolo that is so elegant and balanced ~

The 2015 Marchesi di Barolo, Sarmassa is a wonderfully elegant Nebbiolo.  In the glass, the wine is a medium garnet color with traces of iodine at the edge of the bowl.   The nose is drop dead gorgeous to smell and again, like the Conterno, a textbook Barolo.  Floral notes of roses and lavender are prevalent with fresh fennel and gravelly tar adding complexity.   Polished, elegant, juicy and fresh on the palate with loads of caressing, dusty tannins, this was delicious with lamb shank osso bucco but you may want to hold another 5 years to tame the tannins a bit further.  Me?  I was very happy with this.  Because although the tannins are “chewy” without food, with the meal this was as silky as can be.  96 points.  Find this wine and Support Tuscan Vines.

With the manner in which these two wines acquitted themselves, it makes me think the 2015 Barolo are entering a wonderful drinking window.  One that will easily last another decade. However, I’d encourage you to try some of these wines over the fall and winter months with some wonderful food and see what you think.


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