The 2004 Barolo Cascina Francia boasts staggering depth and explosive intensity from the very first taste. One of the most brooding, backward 2004s, the Cascina Francia is one of the only wines in this vintage that I am slightly disappointed to have opened, as it is so intensely backward. Hints of sage, tobacco, menthol, rose petal and graphite open up in the glass, recalling just how mesmerizing the 2004 was in cask. At once silky, while at other times virile, the 2004 Cascina Francia is constantly changing in the glass. The multiple shades of nuance and complexity are those of Nebbiolo from a great site as expressed by one of the region’s historic families. The price of Monfortino has escalated rapidly over the last few years, but by comparison, the 2004 Cascina Francia is still available in the market and represents a good relative value.
Anticipated maturity: 2019-2044
Robert Parker 97
The 2004 Barolo Cascina Francia is an explosive wine that faithfully captures all of the promise it showed from barrel. This spectacularly rich, concentrated Barolo possesses striking perfume in its smoke, tar, spiced red fruits, licorice and flowers. The wine offers tremendous length and a finish that lasts forever. This is an especially dense, powerful Cascina Francia with a gorgeous core of perfumed sweet fruit that will require some time to fully emerge but is breathtakingly beautiful even at this early stage. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2029. The biggest news at Giacomo Conterno over the last few months has been the estate’s recently completed acquisition of three hectares in the Cerretta vineyard in Serralunga. This is a significant development considering the winery’s history. Few estates in Italy are so closely identified with one piece of land as Giacomo Conterno. When Conterno purchased the Cascina Francia vineyard (a monopole) in 1974 it was a wheat field, although vines had been planted there in the past. There are no known pre-Conterno wines from Cascina Francia. Once the estate began making wines from Cascina Francia (first vintage 1978) they focused all of their attention on that vineyard and ceased using purchased fruit. Given all of the change in Piedmont over the last thirty-plus years it is hard to believe, but Conterno never acquired another parcel – until now. There are two hectares of Nebbiolo and one of Barbera which will become new, separate bottlings. Roberto Conterno told me it will be two to three years before the vineyard responds to the work he is doing today. Unfortunately 2008 has been a challenging growing season characterized by abundant rain in the spring and summer, along with hail, which damaged a portion of the fruit, so total production from Cerretta is expected to be small. Still, it will be fascinating to see what Conterno comes up with from their new vineyards in Cerretta. As for the new releases, they are drop-dead gorgeous. While some of these wines are increasingly difficult to afford, at the end of the day it is hard to begrudge the commercial success of one of Italy’s historic estates, which in many ways, has been a long time coming. The late Giovanni Conterno and his wife Yvonne made enormous sacrifices over the years. In 1974 they paid a princely sum for their Cascina Francia vineyard, then in the early 1980s they built their current winemaking facility, all while putting five children through school. Today Roberto Conterno makes wines that can hold their own with the very finest wines made anywhere in the world, and in that context theses Barolos remain fairly priced. This is an estate that has achieved its success the hard way, by earning it – not just over the years, but over the decades. Importers: Doug Polaner, Polaner Selections, Mt. Kisco, NY; tel. (914) 244-0404, The Rare Wine Co., Sonoma, CA; tel. (707) 996-4484
Anticipated maturity: 2012-2029