A Modernist’s Nebbiolo

Today’s Story: Conterno Fantino

Founded in 1982 by Claudio Conterno and Guido Fantino, Conterno Fantino has grown into a somewhat large (~140,000 total bottles annually) producer of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, and Chardonnay. This being said, the winery employs only about 10 people at a given time including Alda, Fabio, and Elisa Fantino who joined over the years. During an expansion for the winery in 2008, Conterno Fantino implemented solar panels and a geothermal system to conserve energy in pursuit of their environmental impact goals, which I will delve into a bit more speaking about the winemaking process.

Throughout harvest and winemaking, Conterno Fantino employs methods such as manual picking of fruit, spontaneous fermentation from indigenous yeasts, and careful use of wood for aging the wine while minimizing sulfites. Taking a step back, the entire farming process is certified organic in an attempt to preserve the land’s biodiversity with a goal of environmental sustainability. All this being said, Conterno Fantino is a great example of modernist Italian winemaking, particularly for Barolo. Namely, Conterno Fantino ages their Barolo in French oak barriques after relatively short maceration and fermentation. While I am not reviewing one of their Barolos today, hopefully I will in the near future.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo Ginestrino

100% Nebbiolo; 14% ABV

I normally don’t pair Nebbiolo with spaghetti (I prefer a Sangiovese such as Chianti), however, when duty calls and this is what I can find, we drink it. The wine is clear, pale to medium ruby in color which is a bit lighter than most young Nebbiolo wines I’ve tried. Once this opens in a decanter, the nose showcases aromas of cherry, strawberry rhubarb, tomato sauce, tar, red licorice, and mixed green herbs. On the palate, we get notes of cherry, dried raspberry, gravel and slate, slightly smokey earth, and tobacco. Overall very easy drinking with not a whole lot to it, this wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity and medium (surprisingly not medium (+) to high) tannins with a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $35. This is a good price-point for entry level, drinkable-while-young Nebbiolo. Though I am a staunch proponent of traditionalist winemaking, this wine could be a great entry for those not familiar with the Nebbiolo grape or Italian wine as a whole. The wine paired easily with red/meat sauce pasta, though would also go well with lightly peppered ribeye, prime rib, or smoked duck.

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