Kerin O’Keefe’s Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines (University of California Press; $39.95) is a must-have book for lovers of Brunello and, in fact, for anyone at all serious about Italian wine.
Brunello has burgeoned in my wine-drinking lifetime from a few more than half a dozen producers, mostly clustered around the medieval hill town of Montalcino, to well over two hundred, scattered all over the very diverse territories of the Brunello zone. Keeping track of that highly differentiated production – much more making sense of it – is a monumental task. O’Keefe has managed to do it by dint of persistence and equally monumental effort. As she puts it, “Rather than merely sit in my office and taste thousands of wines every year, I’ve visited all the Brunello estates profiled in the following chapters, some several times, and many more that are not in the book. I’ve spent years researching Brunello di Montalcino. . . . I’ve walked producers’ vineyards, visited their cellars, and talked for hours with the winemakers and their families. . . . I take [lengthy trips] to Montalcino every year.”
That kind of leg work produces the detailed and accurate information that makes O’Keefe’s book a milestone in our grasp of Brunello.
Legendary Barolo producer Aldo Conterno passed away in Monforte d’Alba in Piedmont at the age of 81.
Aldo Conterno, who played a crucial role in Barolo’s rebirth as a world-class wine, came from generations of Barolo producers.
His father was the acclaimed Barolista Giacomo Conterno, one of the denomination’s twentieth century pioneers who in 1920 began bottling the family’s Barolo Riserva, so heralding the birth of Monfortino, arguably Barolo’s most iconic wine.
In 1961, Conterno and his brother Giovanni inherited the Giacomo Conterno winery; the two brothers went their separate ways in 1969 and Aldo created his own estate, Poderi Aldo Conterno, in Bussia in Monforte d’Alba.
From the shadows of Italy’s famous consultant winemakers, who drove the country into the spotlight with cult bottlings from international grapes, a band of less starry names is finally emerging. Kerin O’Keefe profiles six oenologists working with native grapes who are reluctantly getting the attention their efforts deserve.