From: Piedmont, Italy
Tasting Notes: Spanna, of course, is the local term for Nebbiolo, and Conti’s is as proudly regionally distinctive as the word itself—a wine that could only come from within the reach of Monte Rosa’s long shadows. The vineyard from which this wine is produced belongs to a friend of Elena and Paola; it is farmed organically, according to the sisters’ specifications, and harvest is overseen and conducted by the Contis themselves. The Spanna (pure unblended Nebbiolo), like the Boca, is aged in a combination of smaller and larger used wood—in this case, for two years—and sulfur here, too, is kept to a bare minimum and applied only at bottling. If the Boca is driven more by its titanic minerality, the Spanna is built on a sense of kinetic energy—a wine of lift and drive rather than power. Fruits here are pitched higher and complemented by a more vertically oriented layering of spices and mountain herbs, and its tannins, while certainly not shy, serve to augment this impression of verticality with their lip-smacking freshness. This is mountain Nebbiolo at its finest and most articulate.
Following in the path of their father, Ermanno Conti, the Conti sisters (Elena, Anna & Paola) represent the second generation to tend the family’s single hectare in the Boca DOC, which is comprised of two hillside parcels, planted by Ermanno in 1971. The Conti family rigorously applies organic standards to their farming, does a manual harvest, and continues to apply the same philosophy to the work in the cellar. Indigenous yeasts are used in fermentation and little to no sulphur is applied during the elevage and at bottling. In fact, several experimental cuvees are bottled entirely without the application of sulphur.
The Boca DOC, one of the smallest appellations in the Alto Piemonte, encompasses only twelve hectares spread over five villages (Boca, Maggiora, Cavallino, Prato Sesia, Grignasco) and is split amongst eleven different vineyard owners. While Nebbiolo is the principal grape, Vespolina and Uva Rara are integral parts of the DOC as well. The soils are composed of limestone, clay, and sand, similar in profile to Gattinara, which is a short 10km drive to the southwest. However, Boca has a distinctly different structure from its neighbor, Gattinara, more elegant and less masculine. The Boca DOC requires that the wines must be aged three years prior to release. The Conti wines have proven themselves to be particularly age-worthy, as evidenced by a series of older vintages (dating back to 1984) that we have had the pleasure to present alongside the current releases (2007 and 2008 vintages at the time of the publication [October 2013] of this profile).
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