Compared to the expression from the Cerretta vineyard, the 2017 Barbera d'Alba Vigna Francia is even darker in color with more austerity and muscle power at the back. The alcohol reading of the two wines is the same (15.5%), but this expression offers less obvious fruit and more dark mineral instead. The soils in the Francia vineyard see a mix of limestone sand and clay, and this is true of where both the Barbera and the Nebbiolo vines are located. You sense an increased mineral presence in the Francia with iron, salt and scorched earth. This full-throttle Barbera is penetrating and deep. This is a fine expression of the grape, offering exacting detail and precision.
Here are my reviews of barrel samples tasted at the winery the last week of April. Among the samples is a new wine produced for the first time: the 2015 Barolo Arione, made with fruit from one of the estate's most high profile recent land acquisitions. Roberto Conterno will bottle all these wines on June 10th, just as we prepare to go to print. These wines will hit the market in October. When appropriate, I have given final scores to these wines, or a range of scores, accordingly. This year, I not only tasted new vintages, I got to taste from a new glass too. Roberto Conterno has designed new stemware called Sensory. With the help of his son who made 3-D computer designs from Roberto’s hand sketches, the Sensory glass offers these distinguishing factors: 1) The universal glass is used for both white and red wines; 2) The base of the balloon is almost flat, giving the wine a wider rest area at the bottom; 3) The side curve of the balloon is taller and wider, at a very open angle. This gives the wine more room to travel when you swirl the glass; and 4) The actual stem is on the short side, giving you the ideal distance between your fingers to hold the glass steady. My impression? Wow, this glass is to wine what high definition is to a television screen.