2017 Nervi Conterno Gattinara
The Nervi estate is the oldest in the DOCG of Gattinara, north of Piedmont, founded in 1906 by original owner Luigi Nervi. A long time admirer of the wines and friends of the owners at the time, Roberto Conterno (of Giacomo Conterno fame) purchased a 90% stake in the winery in 2018, renaming it Conterno Nervi. A relatively new designation, Gattinara became a DOCG in 1990, and while the wines show similarities to those of Piedmont, generally Gattinara reds have a more elevated feel, savoury and structured, with plenty of acidity and fine tannins allowing for great longevity.
Effectively the ‘Classico’, this is comprised of four key plots, Casacce, Garavoglie, Molsino and Valferana. Nervi's Gattinara is fermented and macerated in steel at controlled temperatures for 25–30 days, followed by 30 months in large Stockinger Austrian botti.
The Conterno Nervi 2017 Gattinara sources its fruit from the volcanic soils of various vineyard sites, including Molsino, Valferana, Garavogloe and Casacce. These sites sit at various elevations in the small valley of hills that surround the town of Gattinara near the Sesia River in an area of beautifully dramatic topography. But these hills also trap the rain, and abundant precipitation (thankfully, no frost or hail, though) was an issue here in Alto Piemonte, Roberto Conterno tells me, more so than in the Langhe that generally saw a hot and dry summer. He did not make the two cru expression in 2017, and all the fruit from those sites ended up in this bottling (or was otherwise sold off). Despite this prelude, I found this wine to be stable and saturated, both in terms of aromatic character and flavor. It shows dark currant and wild plum, with hints of dusty earth, grilled herb and cola. This harvest predates Roberto Conterno's acquisition of Nervi; however, he had played a background role at this historic winery for some years by this point. From that point of view, you start to see the meticulous work to achieve freshness and precision with this Nebbiolo-based wine. Drink 2023 - 2038.
Monica Larner - Wine Advocate (Dec 2021)
The 2017 Gattinara is terrific. It will also give readers something to drink without waiting decades. In 2017, the Gattinara is a bit richer than it often is - the result of the warm dry year – but its profile is super-classic. Sweet pipe tobacco, mint, dried herbs, licorice, dried cherry and Alpine herbs fill out its ample frame effortlessly. I would give the 2017 a few years in bottle, but it won’t need more than that to start drinking well. In 2017, Roberto Conterno did not bottle his vineyard-designates. Instead, all the best lots went into the straight Gattinara, an overachieving wine that delivers the goods. I don’t expect the 2017 will be among the most long-lived wines here, but that will hardly be an issue for most readers.
Antonio Galloni - Vinous
Roberto Conterno’s purchase of the historic Cantina Nervi in 2018 signals a new Super-Italian reality, casting a spotlight on this underrated denomination. Conterno saw the 2017 vintage through élevage and decided not to bottle the estate’s famous Molsino and Valferana crus separately. With some coaxing, alpine flowers, red cherry and juniper emerge from a dark, earthy backdrop. The palate is further nuanced by bitter roots, chinotto citrus, liquorice bark and a crushed granite mouthfeel. Refined tannins build up, with textural grip closing in on the finish. Tanginess and energy are evident throughout, underscoring the promise of cooler regions as global temperatures rise. Drink 2025 - 2042.
Michaela Morris - Decanter