About a month ago I went on a wine outing in the Langhe and we ended up stopping in at the Gallo Wine Gallery in La Morra. Well, this is certainly an easy place to spend your money–be warned! Michele, an Italian sommelier who speaks perfect English, put me onto a lot of great bottles. When I mentioned my passion for all forms of Nebbiolo, he suggested a 2004 Conterno Fantino Nebbiolo Genestrino.
I only got around to drinking this bottle last Sunday. It was certainly everything I want a Nebbiolo to be: big, bold and straight-forward. Nebbiolo is great because you can drink it quite young. Sure, maybe it lacks the complexity that wood can impart; at the same time, it speaks directly of grapes and tells no lies about the quality of the fruit. This particular example of Nebbiolo had a great balance of acidity and tannins. Its freshness really hit the mark for me. A young red in the glass, hints of cherries in the nose and mouth filling, balanced goodness with an ample finish. Where did my wine go? This one disappears before you know it.
So I had Conterno Fantino on the brain today when I went down to the Banca del Vino at work. I asked if they had anything by these guys and they smiled at me in a way that said, “It will cost you dearly.” (Lucky they were wrong when I got to the till). They had the 2001 Langhe Rosso Mon Pra and I had to have it. This is a blend of Nebbiolo Lampia and Michet (45%), Barbera (45%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (a grape that grows very well around Monforte – 10%).
Overlooking the other bottles I had picked up, I tore into this one as soon as I got home. A young ruby red in the glass, this looked like it was going to deliver. The nose is somewhat floral (violets) and red berries. The wood is present, but not overwhelming. Once it hit my lips my mouth was overwhelmed with tannins and proceeded to turn black. It’s persistent! Despite what they told me at the old wine bank, I think this one needs a few more years to mellow out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good; I just want to like it more than I do. I honestly preferred the Nebbiolo even though the Mon Pra is the big deal (not to mention the Barolo Genestro).
I will say that those boys at out in Monforte are up to something good. I have no idea if you can get this in Canada, but if you come here (you could pay for your trip in wine savings) it won’t set you back more then 25 euros.