Conti, Boca DOCG
Conti, Boca DOCG

Conti, Boca DOCG

Piedmont, Italy 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$75.00

Conti, Boca DOCG

Ladies and gentlemen, The Conti Sisters! No, they’re not singers, although Elena, Anna, and Paola Conti have achieved rock-star status for the wines they craft in the tiny appellation of Boca, in the northern reaches of Italy’s Piedmont region. We’ve devoted countless column-inches to the “Alto Piemonte” over the years, as it has emerged from its post-WWII doldrums and become a source of Nebbiolo-based reds to rival the best of Barolo and Barbaresco. These wines have the distinction of being both trendy and authentic, and in Conti’s case, they also happen to be heartbreakingly rare: the sisters farm just two hectares of vines in an appellation that measures about 12 hectares in total. Their now-legendary Boca bottling, dubbed “Il Rosso delle Donne” (the womens’ red) is not only the family’s flagship but, arguably, the region’s as well. If you are serious about Piedmontese wine, Conti is a must-have collectible from this star-studded region.

To repeat: The Boca DOC (controlled denomination of origin) is one of the smallest wine-producing zones in Italy, and the Contis are one of about a dozen families still making wine here. Boca is one of several wine zones clustered along the Sesia River north of the Piedmontese city of Novara—Ghemme, Gattinara, Lessona, and Bramaterra are among the others—which sit in the shadow of the Alps, on soils that combine volcanic porphyry, iron-rich red clay, and some alluvial gravel/sand. At one time, more than a century ago, the alto Piemonte was blanketed with vineyards and was Piedmont’s commercial winemaking epicenter, but a combination of phylloxera, the exodus of workers to industrial jobs in Turin and Milan, and two World Wars all but wiped it out. Of all the above-mentioned appellations, Gattinara is the biggest at about 100 hectares (way down from its 19th century heyday). 

Boca is not only the smallest, but the most northerly, of the Alto Piemonte appellations. Ermanno Conti planted the family’s two small hillside vineyards in 1971, in the village of Maggiora, and vinified/aged his wines in the cellar beneath the castle—yes, castle, with crenulated ramparts and everything—he built in the 1960s. The sisters officially took the reins in 2006, continuing their father’s work and taking the wines to new heights of quality and international recognition.

There are some small details that set Boca, and especially Conti, apart from the pack. First, the blending varieties Vespolina and Uva Rara play a significant supporting role behind Nebbiolo in this wine. And if you look closely while walking the Conti vineyards, you’ll notice some of the most exotic-looking soil ever planted to Nebbiolo vines, with porphyry and quartz crystals held together by reddish sand and clay. The ground literally twinkles in the sunlight and its unique mineral composition is evident in every sip.

The Conti sisters understand that such unique terroir and their combined years of perfecting organic and biodynamic practices (herbicides have never been allowed) means they need not fuss too much in the cellar. There is very little in the way of technology or modern gadgetry at Conti. The minuscule amount of juice produced from their vineyards is fermented in stainless steel tanks. They make twice-daily punch-downs during fermentation and after malolactic fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred to old, handmade, 500-liter oak botti. It rests in those barrels for a minimum of three years, after which the wines typically mature further in bottle before they are released.

Conti’s new-release wines can be reticent and usually require a lengthy decant before they start to reveal themselves, but 2019 is the kind of vintage that allows for some immediate gratification (nevertheless, this wine will age 20 years with ease). Decant this ’19 about an hour before serving and you’ll be treated to the full Nebbiolo panorama: perfumed aromas of redcurrant, dried rose petal, blood orange rind, clay, spiced red plum, cherry skin, tar, pipe tobacco, damp wild herbs, and so much more. This is an elegant, earthy, soulful take on Nebbiolo, utterly spellbinding and destined to get better and better with time. It should go without saying, also, that this is a wine for the dinner table, not the cocktail hour. We’re right in the thick of truffle season, so do whatever you can to pair this with a little of Piedmont’s “white gold.” You won’t regret it!

Conti, Boca DOCG

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