2010 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cerretta - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d’Alba (6/18/2013)
Off the wine list at a rather forgettable trattoria in the heart of Barolo village (in itself a rarity within a week of fantastic food). Big name aside, I thought was this was a bit awkward on the night. It had a huge nose - smoky, tarry, meaty, with bold black fruited and a whiff of glycerol. The palate was rather a shift in gear from the nose. It was dominated by bright, citrussy, almost strident acidity which pierced the palate like a spear on one hand, but also helped to lift the wine’s big, rich, but still pure notes of blackberries and plums on the other. One could tell that the wine had pretty nice proportions, with a solid sense of substance on the attack and midpalate and a good bit of minerality and some fine tannins underneath. However, it came across a bit disjointed, with a bit of alcohol sticking out at awkward angles. And while there was a little linger of black fruit and spice at the finish, this seemed a bit short in the end. I have no doubt it will get better over the next couple of years, but overall on the night, this was decent, but not entirely convincing. (89 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker
Paul, Conterno is among a handful of producers making Barberas d’ Alba that are ageworthy and capable of greatness in many vintages, although the Cascina Francia is that producer’s flagship Barbera, with the Cerretta only having been made for a few vintages. Long and deep experience has taught me that Barbera d’ Asti is a better food wine. I generally prefer Nebbiolos or good Dolcettos with meals when the Barberas on a wine list are dominated by Barberas d’ Alba. While no generalization is always true, Albas can often be fat, oaky and/or overripe (definitely many victims of Parkerization out there, with silly high prices to match), while the majority of Astis are thinner wines with little or no new oak, moderate alcohol in all but the hottest vintages and a bracing acid cut that shines with the rich, sometimes fatty Piemontese cuisine. Not surprisingly, it is often difficult to find Astis on wine lists in the Alba zone and vice versa. For that reason, I have a few favorite trattorie and osterie in the Roero that have a great range of Astis on their lists. It has been my experience in years past that perhaps some Astis do not travel as well to the U.S., but on the home turf, they are hard to beat…
Thanks for the thoughtful note Bill - I completely agree with you about Barbera d’Astis. We had far too many mediocre d’Albas from big name winemakers who make great Nebbiolo on this trip - almost as if Dolcetto was the favourite easy going wine and Nebbiolo the serious one, with Barbera being the neglected middle child.
On another note, we also enjoyed a visit to Ovada where they craft some serious Dolcettos. Together with Dogliani, those two areas, which make precious little if any Nebbiolo, may be the go-to appellations for Dolcetto.
Indeed yes on the Dolcetti di Dogliani, especially the higher-end ones. They can be a revelation for those who have had Dolcetti that they did not find all that great…
What an oddly agreeable thread. I prefer Asti Barbera and Dogliani Dolcetto too.
I had the '09 and '10 Barbera Cascina Francia at a tasting a few months back. Both were disjointed, alcoholic, overripe, and comically monstrous. No one had more than a sip or two. It was sad as Conterno used to make good, age-worthy Barberas.