VIN94 The 2017 Gattinara is terrific. It will also give readers something to drink without waiting decades. In 2017, the Gattinara is a bit richer than it often is – the result of the warm dry year – but its profile is super-classic. Sweet pipe tobacco, mint, dried herbs, licorice, dried cherry and Alpine herbs fill out its ample frame effortlessly. I would give the 2017 a few years in bottle, but it won’t need more than that to start drinking well. In 2017, Roberto Conterno did not bottle his vineyard-designates. Instead, all the best lots went into the straight Gattinara, an overachieving wine that delivers the goods. I don’t expect the 2017 will be among the most long-lived wines here, but that will hardly be an issue for most readers.
Once more famous than Barolo, the Alto Piemonte faded into obscurity in the 1900s, its cooler cli- mate failing to deliver wines that satisfied Twentieth Century palates. But with increasingly warm summers, great terroirs and many surviving old Nebbiolo vines, the Alto Piemonte has been poised for a renaissance. All it needed was a visionary to carry it into the future. That visionary turned out to be Roberto Conterno. In 2018, Roberto bought the region’s most iconic estate, Nervi, founded in Gattinara in 1906. As he does with Giacomo Conterno, Roberto has poured everything he has into making Nervi the equal of any of Barolo’s great estates.
While some of the world’s classic wine regions see warmer summers as a threat, in Alto Piemonte, they have been invaluable. This is, after all, a region where Nebbiolo sometimes struggled to ripen in the past. But with more consistently warm summers, the possibility of making wines of unprec- edented richness and concentration – yet with the elegance afforded by cool nights and volcanic soils – is emerging. For proof, we need look no further than Roberto’s brilliant 2017 Gattinara, which is the essence of that year’s warm days and cool nights. Effusively aromatic, rich and mouthfilling, long and beautifully textured, this is a Gattinara that few would have envisioned 20 years ago.
Antonio Galloni: Roberto Conterno continues to take Nervi to new heights. I tasted all of these wines from cask during a visit to the winery in 2018, so I can’t say I am surprised by the level of quality. The 2016 single-vineyard Gattinaras are out of this world. Conterno has taken his maniacal attention to detail and the best practices he has developed at his Giacomo Conterno estate in Serralunga and applied them at Nervi. The results speak for themselves.