Though most histories of the famed Giacomo Conterno estate begin with its namesake, the estate was founded by his father, Giovanni Conterno, in 1908.
Giovanni placed emphasis on making premium quality Barolo only in great vintages using long fermentation and aging periods to create the best aging potential. Giovanni taught his son, Giacomo, well, and when he returned from serving in WW I, Giacomo had a vision to make a Barolo that would age for decades.
Previous to Giacomo Conterno, winemakers made and sold Barolo in cask or demijohn. It was a wine intended for early drinking. In the 1920s, Giacomo realized his vision through extending the grapes’ maceration time and aging the wine in large, old wooden botti. The estate managed to stay afloat and even prosper over the years thanks to the Italian tradition of giving Barolo as a prestigious Christmas gift; like just a few other producers, they had substantial orders from companies such as Fiat and Pirelli to feed their success. In the early ‘60s, Giacomo decided to pass the winery to his sons, Giovanni and Aldo, passing on his credo: “Only premium quality can bring prestige to the Langhe.” Giovanni and Aldo worked together until 1969, when Aldo branched off and founded his own estate, the Poderi Aldo Conterno. Giovanni brought his son, Roberto, to work with him in 1988, and Roberto took control of the estate upon his father’s passing in 2004.
Until the 1970s, Poderi Giacomo Conterno owned no vineyards; the estate made its wines from select old-vine grapes that it purchased from farmers. But as farmers increasingly began bottling their own wine, the estate felt the need to purchase its own land; in 1974, the estate purchased the densely planted 17-acre Francia vineyard, one of Piemonte's great monopole sites. Boasting southwest exposure and sitting about 400 meters above sea level, Francia’s grapes offer deep tannins, creating ideal cellaring wines--in fact, the estate bottles its renowned Monfortino from the very best grapes grown in the same vineyard. Giacomo Conterno hews close to tradition in crafting its wines, and the estate makes its Barolos with natural yeasts, temperature controlled fermentation and a lengthy maceration; after this, the wine is aged in large Slavonian botti and aged in bottle for four years.
Known for its superb long-lived wines, this estate recently narrowed its focus strictly to Nebbiolo and Barbera. Giacomo Conterno uses only the highest quality grapes from Cascina Francia in Serralunga d’Alba for their two famed Barolos: the ‘Cascina Francia’ and the legendary ‘Monfortino' Riserva. The densely planted Francia vineyard has southwest exposure and is about 400 meters above sea level. Grapes gathered here offer deep tannins, creating ideal cellaring wines. Recently, the estate has added a third Barolo, Cerretta, from a Serralunga vineyard that it bought in 2008.