2004 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba: The Best Red Wine in a Long Time

Posted on: February 24th, 2014 by

2004 Giacamo Conterno Barbera d'AlbaI 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.)

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2 Responses

  1. Jeff Leve asked Eric Asimov: “Do you recall your epiphany wine?”

    Eric Asimov “I’ve had many epiphany wines! They’ve ranged from a white zinfandel that I had as a college student to rare, well-aged bottles. But if I had to pick out one wine that flipped a switch, it was a 1978 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba that I drank as a graduate student in the early 1980s. It was so much better than the usual run of cheap wines I had been drinking, and yet it was only $8, that I vowed to find more wines like it that gave me so much pleasure.”

  2. [...] magazine. The Demystified Vine’s recent article on Zweigelt. Jameson Fink’s article on a special bottle of Barbara d’Alba that he was saving. With blogs you can follow along with the journey as bloggers travel through [...]

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