Robert Parker 98
Monfortino was not produced in 2016 nor was it made in 2017. The jury is out on whether will see it in 2018 (but I do know that Roberto Conterno is super excited about the 2019 vintage in Barolo, speaking generally). That means that we might not see his flagship wine for a number of years. The 2015 Barolo Riserva Monfortino gives us plenty to contemplate in the meantime. First, in terms of winemaking notes, this vintage see 22% Arione fruit in the blend, with the rest from Francia. Roberto Conterno is fond of telling me that “Francia is a Barolo you drink, and Monfortino is a wine you chew.” (The exact word in Italian is “masticare.”) I think his comment rings especially true in this vintage that arguably shows greater concentration and fruit weight and softer or more integrated tannins overall. There is structure but minus any hard edges or bite. Harvest was completed by mid-October, and this was a very easy and trouble-free growing season that ended with ample warmth and sunny temperatures. In fact, Roberto Conterno prefers 2015 over 2016. The wine’s beautiful richness most definitely translates to the bouquet, which is expressive, buoyant and full of dark fruit character. Blackberry and blackcurrant cede to spice, smoky tar, aniseed and potting soil (after a shorter five years in oak).
Anticipated maturity: 2026-2055
The 2015 Barolo Riserva Monfortino is not only outrageously beautiful, it also marks a new era in the wine’s history where Monfortino is once again a blend from more than one vineyard. Between 1978 (the first year of production at Francia) and 2014, Monfortino was a single-vineyard wine. Following his purchase of Arione in 2015, Conterno set aside part of that fruit for Monfortino. I tasted the 2015 from its separate components (Francia and Arione) and there was simply no question that the blended wine was better and more complete than either of two components, which is one of the main reasons Barolo was traditionally made from a blend of sites in the first place. Powerful and imposing in the glass, with tremendous textural richness, the 2015 is a total stunner. Everything seems amped up in the 2015: aromatics, fruit and acidity. What a captivating wine it is.