As many wines, this one also has its story. Aldo Conterno‘s Il Favot usually contains Nebbiolo stemming from younger vines (less than 20 years old) and is meant to be a deeply coloured but smooth and thus easy to drink Piemont-wine. But with the 2003 vintage, it actually is a downgraded Barolo. The whole story which created a certain hype around this wine is very well told in this article of the NY Sun. But for a brief explanation: Aldo Conterno first thought 2003 was too hot of a vintage and didn’t yield the quality he wants to achieve for his Barolo. Against the opinon of his sons, he decided to declassify it and apparently realized a few months later that he “made a mistake”.
So what do we have here in the end? Just a marketing trick? Or really a top notch Barolo for less than half the price? I got a heads-up on this wine thanks to my friend Didier who sold plenty of it when he used to work in a wine shop in Manhattan, the background story helping. But that was a couple of years back and I was curious of how it would perform.
So here we go. After popping and pouring one stares at a brick-red to brown hue on the side of the wine glass which instantly brings up the question wether this wine is over the top already. But it is only the side and the rest of the wine is a beautiful black, showing that the forces of extraction have done their work.
Also, the first sniff brings relief with an intense and very seductive cherry nose comes out of the glass. It transports a certain sweetness as well as small amounts of vanilla and almonds but also something which can be described as a lively freshness.
On the palate one is immediately confronted with the incredible structure of the wine. Whilst there is some strong astringency at the start, it quickly becomes bearable and then essential as it stands in contrast to the voluptuous fruit. Indeed, there are loads of very ripe dark cherries at the center of this wine. The finish, which shows a nice 20 second length also includes some welcome freshness as well as herbal bay leaf notes. After some time, as the wine gets air, the impression grows that the fruit might be rather overripe, which would confirm Aldo Conterno’s first opinion of a too hot vintage for Barolo. Also, except for some bay leaf and the classic autumnal notes, there is rather little complexity in this wine.
As a conclusion I would say that this wine certainly doesn’t represent the conception of a classic Barolo that many seek – Overripe fruit, lack of balance and depth as well as limited ageing potential are the main concerns for this and I guess the declassifying makes more sense than the NY Sun article suggests. But on the other hand it is a wine with great concentration that shows nicely when popped and poured and would represent an excellent match with strong flavored braised meats such as a boar stew or Boeuf Bourguignon. For me it was an interesting introduction to the world of Aldo Conterno but I will definitely look out for other vintages since I know this bottle doesn’t permit too many conclusions on the estate.