I chose my last bottle of 2004 Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia Barbera d’Alba for Saturday’s “Open That Bottle Night” festivities. If this is the first time you’ve heard of the event, you can get the story on Grape Collective. It comes as a once-a-year reminder to not wait for that “special” event to open a bottle. This day gives you a reason to get your corkscrew working, and should inspire you to less postponing when it comes to raiding your cellar.
The pictured Giacomo Conterno Barbera is Exhibit A for why you should be looking at your bottles less, and drinking them more. Hailing from Northern Italy’s storied Piedmont region, the other “B” wines from the region, Barolo and Barbaresco, get the lion’s share of the press and much larger prices. And though many wines made from the Barbera grape are the kind of wines you enjoy with gusto at the table within the first few years after they leave the winery, the Giacomo Conterno is an exception.
I bought it for around $30 probably five years back or more. It was stunning on February 22, 2014. Still had loads of fresh fruit and a nice minty note to it from time in the bottle. Not overpowering mint but just enough presence, like when judiciously added to dark chocolate, that you take notice. It also had some meaty, savory notes in it. The whole thing was like a perfectly simmered red wine stew with herbs and tender, subtle meat. But completely liquid, with no solids. And served not piping hot but rather slightly cool. Does that make any sense?
Anyhoo, it was one of the most fantastically delicious and surprising bottles of red wine in ages. It’s going in my Hall of Fame, for sure. Actually, it’s already there. (This is a virtual hall. Still working on the funding for the brick and mortar site in Tasmania.)best barbera ever, giacomo contero barbera, piedmont barbera