Spotlight on… Giacomo Conterno

Conterno

Location: Monforte d’Alba, Langhe, Piedmont
Owner: Roberto Conterno
Founder: Giovanni Conterno
Classification: DOCG
The Liv-ex Classification 2019: 2nd (Barolo Cascina Francia)
Vineyard area: 28 ha
Colour: Red
Grape varieties planted: Nebbiolo, Barbera
Famous wines: Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia, Barolo Cascina Francia, Barolo Riserva Monfortino

Brief history

The beginnings of the Piemonte winery can be traced back to 1908 and the establishment of Giovanni Conterno’s tavern in San Giuseppe near Monforte d’Alba. The Conterno family have been linked to viticulture since the 18th century; however, the production of their first bottled Barolo wine started in the 1920s. Until then, producers would normally sell Barolo in cask or demijohn. The wine was intended for early drinking.

Giacomo Conterno (Giovanni’s son) revolutionised this by creating a Barolo with vast aging potential. The Conterno Barolo, normale and riserva, was made by the motto that at the time of bottling the wine should be “undrinkable”, though be a great bottle after twenty to fifty years.

In 1961, the estate was inherited by Giacomo’s sons, Giovanni and Aldo Conterno. The brothers’ conflicting winemaking philosophies prompted Aldo to establish his own winery in 1969, Poderi Aldo Conterno, based on a more “modernist” approach.

In 1974, Giovanni acquired the 16-hectare (40-acre) Cascina Francia site in Serralunga d’Alba, which brought an end to the era of purchasing fruit from local farmers. The south-facing vineyard was planted with Nebbiolo vines, and its first vintage was 1978.

Ten years later, Giovanni Conterno’s youngest son Roberto began to work by his father’s side in the winery. Since 2004, Roberto Conterno has overseen and expanded the family business, continuing Giovanni’s work in a traditionalist fashion.

Nowadays, the Conterno estate is most renowned for two of its Barolos, Cascina Francia and Monfortino Riserva. The latter is produced only in the very best of vintages and aged at least seven years in large oak ‘botti’. Below, we analyse its success on the secondary market for fine wine.

Market Performance

In line with Italy’s growing trade share (a record high of 23% in April), Barolo has been rising too. A significant part of that has been Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino. The Riserva Monfortino 2013 topped the list of the most traded wines by value this past quarter. It came ahead of the likes of the Super Tuscan, Tignanello 2016, and Dom Perignon 2008 – clearly pointing to the market’s growing appreciation of Piedmont’s finest.

The 2013 is the most recent vintage available from the producer, released late last year. Antonio Galloni (Vinous) awarded the wine 99 points, calling it “brilliant, precise, focused and nuanced”.

Vintages 2010 (the prior release, AG 100) and 2006 have also been popular. Of all Giacomo Conterno trade over the past five years, the 2013 Riserva Monfortino has accounted for 57%, the 2010 for 20%, the 2006 for 5%. Barolo Cascina Francia 2012 and 2015 have followed.

Chart 1: Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino vs Barolo trade since 2015barolo

Wines from Giacomo Conterno have been providing good investment returns. In 2017, three vintages of Barolo Cascina Francia featured in the top ten price performers. Last year, the 2002 Barolo Riserva Monfortino topped the list of the biggest risers.

Over the past two years, the Monfortino index (up 14.1%) has outperformed both the Italy 100 (+10%) and the Piedmont (+14%), albeit slightly.

In the past year, however, the Italy 100 has led the way. The broader index is up 3.2%. It has been partly elevated by strong performances from Gaja and the Super Tuscans. Although Monfortino vintages 2000, 2002 and 2005 have also been on the rise, its 2010, 2006, 2008 and 2001 have seen prices drift more recently.

Chart 2: Italy 100 vs Piedmont vs Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino – two years

The chart below compares the current Market Price and score of the last ten physical vintages of Monfortino. The 2008, with 98 points from Galloni, is currently the “cheapest” at £7,376 per 12×75. The 2004 and 2010 are the only two perfect wines, according to Galloni. The 2004 is available at a 7% discount to the 2010, and benefits from more time in bottle. With 99 points, the popular 2013 is now available 18% below the similarly scored 2001.

Chart 3: Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino: Market Price vs Score

Looking for more? Last year, we published an extended report titled, The fine wines of Italy: past, present and future, which examines the region’s phenomenal growth on the secondary market. You can download it via the form below.