“He’s a lion. He was born in August you know. He’s a Leo.”
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 8 years since the wine world lost the presence of Aldo Conterno. Often called the Lion of Barolo, Aldo was a kind, gentle man and a Korean War Veteran. As I wrote at the time, “his passing will leave a void in Piedmont that will be felt throughout the world of wine.” There was uncertainty then. Even as his sons vowed to continue the estate’s proud legacy, it was natural that Barolo lovers felt a sense of unease.
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 and I think Barolo is better for it. 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 than before, but without losing the noble stature that is unique to Barolo.”
Today the estate is run by Aldo’s three sons who have admirably carried on their Father’s legacy. In this article we’re profiling one of their most recent releases. Bearing in my mind that this is the “entry level” Barolo (and I cringe just writing that) it points to the estate’s excellence and the reputation of the vintage.
The 2015 Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia is a masterpiece in waiting. Conterno’s style notwithstanding, this is a young Barolo from a top vineyard site and so I decanted the wine for 2 hours. Deep violet in the glass, the aromas developed more presence than I might have thought. Fresh flowers, crushed berries, tobacco leaf and cured meats are compelling.
On the palate, the wine is full bodied with large scale fruit and tannins. Juicy fruit coats the mid-palate with toasted spices, tobacco and stone/mineral notes. On the back end the tannins certainly assert themselves and shorten the experience. However, in this case, that was a cost of doing business. I wanted to taste this young. I’m not sorry that I did. With the grilled ribeyes, the wine was perfectly enjoyable. To soften texturally, I’d try again in8 years. If you’re looking for that orange fruit, rose petal, anise, truffle fix from your Barolo, you’ll need to wait a decade or more. I’d hope to experience both. 96 points. About $75. Find this wine.
Although this is over the wooden table, this closer look of the wine in glass offers an interesting perspective…