Neal’s visits in Alto Piemonte continued with a trip to Castello Conti:
“Tuesday morning Oct 22 we visited with Elena and Paola Conti. Four wines were the subjects for the day. The wines had just been bottled 10 days prior. The Nebbiolo Colline Novaresi 2012 was the most affected by the bottling, showing the dryness one associates with the addition of sulfur at the moment of bottling. The Zingara followed, and received no sulfur whatsoever! This is a wine of Croatina, produced currently from the 2012 vintage and is quite compelling, far superior in my opinion to the first release from the 2011 vintage that we purchased and shipped this September. The ’12 version is bold with a dark robe, concentrated, round and thick.
Finally, the Boca 2009 is excellent. The ’09 is composed of almost 90% Nebbiolo, although the vineyard is planted to 20% Vespolina. Concentrated, with a deep robe, it expresses more like the 1984 than the immediately preceding vintages. That is to say, it has a touch of game in its nose and flavors, the tannins are more pronounced while retaining its linear structure. The wine spent 3 years in 9 hl tonneau.
Neal concluded his Alto Piemonte visits with Massimo Clerico:
“The 2013 ‘season’ was erratic: lots of rain in the spring, then no rain for 3 months, then some rain again around harvest time. The result here will be wines with less color, lower alcohol and expressive aromatics. This year, due to the discussion that occurred during the March visit of the RWM group, Massimo used indigenous yeasts (in large part) to launch his fermentations.
The Ca’ du Leria 2012 will be dominated by Croatina (85%) because the Nebbiolo harvest was very small in 2012. The Lessona 2010 is particularly strong (aged in 15hl botte made in Austria of French oak). From 2010 on, all Lessona from Clerico will be classified “Riserva” due to the extended aging he applies to his wines. The Lessona 2011 looks to be more elegant, less structured than the 2010.
The 2011s in general here appear to be wines of lovely finesse with less emphatic tannic expression.
The Ca’ du Leria 2010 (50% Nebbiolo, 40% Croatina, 10% Vespolina) is marked by earthy, Nebbiolo-based aromatics and bitter-cherry flavors (influence of Croatina). Excellent!
The Spanna Costa della Sesia 2011 is less powerful and dark than the ’10, drier in the finish but with a lively presence on the palate.
The Lessona 2008 that we will ship in the first half of 2014 (along with the Spanna 2011 and Ca’ du Leria 2010) has good structure, quite linear in form, fine, elegant and fresh, a classic version of Lessona (a 30 day maceration, by the way). The Lessona 2009 which will follow is darker (hail in the early spring reduced yields), more concentrated and dense, a very impressive wine.
All in all, a rewarding visit with Massimo and Concetta, two lovely people who are producing wines of real character.