99 Points Antonio Galloni
The 2015 Barolo Riserva Monfortino is magical. This is the first vintage that includes fruit from Arione, so the 2015 is 80% Francia and 20% Arione. That marks a return to Monfortino as a multi-vineyard wine, which it mostly was until 1978, when the first Monfortino from Francia was made. The combination of sites works so well. I remember tasting the 2015 as separate components and seeing what exactly the Arione piece adds, and that is aromatic explosiveness, texture and breadth. Rose petal, mint, sage, tobacco and cedar lend complexity. More than anything else, though, I am blown away by how utterly delicious the 2015 is. Of course, the 2015 will be better in time, but its pedigree is plainly evident today. Roberto Conterno gave the 2015 just five years in cask, the shortest time in wood for any Monfortino in recent memory, maybe ever. Like most producers around the world, Conterno is thinking deeply about what the optimal period of time in oak is. As for the 2015, it is a flat-out stunner in every way.
99 Points Robert Parker Wine Advocate
Monfortino was not produced in 2016 nor was it made in 2017. The jury is out on whether will see it in 2018 (but I do know that Roberto Conterno is super excited about the 2019 vintage in Barolo, speaking generally). That means that we might not see his flagship wine for a number of years. The 2015 Barolo Riserva Monfortino gives us plenty to contemplate in the meantime. First, in terms of winemaking notes, this vintage see 22% Arione fruit in the blend, with the rest from Francia. Roberto Conterno is fond of telling me that “Francia is a Barolo you drink, and Monfortino is a wine you chew.” (The exact word in Italian is “masticare.”) I think his comment rings especially true in this vintage that arguably shows greater concentration and fruit weight and softer or more integrated tannins overall. There is structure but minus any hard edges or bite.