The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Aldo Conterno and Cupano

Posted on | April 21, 2014 | Written by Will Di Nunzio | No Comments

One of my favorite buys in wine are the entry-level wines of iconic producers and off-vintages of those iconic producers. I remember back when I first started at IWM, we carried Domenico Clerico’s 2002 Barolo, a wine that many wrinkled their noses at, but it was, in fact, one of the best values we had at the time; it was, the terrible vintage aside, still an incredible bottle of wine. Today I chose two wines that are also incredible. The first is an Aldo Conterno Langhe Rosso, which you expect to be great but you won’t expect it to cost so little. The second is a Brunello you’d not think to buy because it’s ‘02, but I promise you will rethink everything you thought you knew about that vintage when you taste this Cupano! Enjoy.

Aldo Conterno Langhe Rosso 2009 $29.99

Piemonte – Freisa, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

A strange blend for the likes of Aldo, but it’s nothing short of delicious. 2009 was a generous and plump vintage, which gives the wine its juicy quality with rich berries notes. Freisa is an ancient and obscure varietal that has always been used as a blending grape, but enologists say that this little esoteric grape is the parent grape to the great Nebbiolo, and as such it can be a powerhouse on its own. With the smooth and calming Merlot and Cab Sauv additions, this Langhe Rosso (which has replaced the estate’s famed Quartetto) is an incredible bottle of everyday red from Aldo’s cellar that you definitely need to drink.

Cupano Brunello di Montalcino 2002 $149

Toscana – Sangiovese Grosso

Yes, you read correctly, this is a 2002, the same vintage when many Italian winemakers fell into a depression because their vineyards were ruined by rain, hail and cold weather. In every storm is a little rainbow, and alongside some of the greats, Cupano prevailed against all odds. In my many offers of Cupano, I’ve written about the vineyard and I always, always highlight that the estate has great drainage. What does that mean? It means that in what is considered the worst vintage in 50 years you can get delicious wine because the water goes straight through the soil, rather than sitting and pooling and wreaking havoc with the vines and the grapes. The meticulous care of the owners helps, but nature makes it that simple. Enjoying this great bottle from an “off” vintage is an enlightening experience that everyone should have.


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