2005 Giacomo Conterno, Barbera d’Alba, Cascina Francia (RT 89) Another less than elegant showing for this iconic bottling. This was my last bottle of the 2005 vintage and was followed over the course of two days. Bought on release and stored in my cellar since. Still hanging on to its core purplish hue, with a slight amount of bricking at the rim. Shows a bit more mature on the nose than on the palate where it delivers notes of violets and blue fruits with hints of minerality and smoke. On the palate it reveals an array of fresher, fruit driven characteristics with good acidity, but is mostly monolithic in its profile. Solid acidity, but its tannins still hold a sharp, unfocused edge and its fruit notes remain a bit unfocused and has not integrated as one would expect. For my palate a less than average bottling, drink this earlier than more age-worthy vintages, as I don’t see this going anywhere spectacular. Drink now – 2020+

2006 Giacomo Conterno, Barbera d’Alba, Cascina Francia (RT 93) Bought on release, this is the second bottle I’ve opened. SO’d for the day, then poured and followed over the course of two days. What was lacking in the 2005 is present in spades in this fantastic 2006. Intoxicating freshness with perfectly ripe fruit and a beautifully balanced palate texture. Loads of red fruit, saddle leather, white flowers and violets with citrus zest create and aromatic display that is to die for. With time in the glass green tea notes, which I often associate with the Cascina Francia cru, emerge. On the palate the freshness and connectedness of the fruit makes you yearn for another sip. The balance of ripe fruit and acidity creates a beautifully layered package. Now in its peak drinking window, pull those corks! Drink now – 2026+

In researching the current trading price for the 2005 and 2006 it appears high demand and modest production has at least temporarily cleaned out the market. I found no 2005 available stateside and one source for the 2006, which was priced at the chokingly high cost of $180 a bottle. At that price it’s a no brainer PASS! Current vintages (2014, 2015, 2016) are available in the $60-70 range, and even at that price I question if this wine is worth buying any longer. It certainly was when it was releasing in the low-to-upper $40s.