Review: 2017 GATTINARA, Nervi-Contero, Piemonte

Nervi is the oldest winery in the Gattinara area, north Piemonte, at the foot of the Alps, nearby the Lake Maggiore.  Founded by the Nervi family at the beginning of the previous century, the winery was sold about 100 years later to a group of Norwegian investors led by a wine collector friend of Roberto.  It was him who asked Conterno for help in elevating the quality of the wines. Finally, in 2018, the winery was bought over by Roberto Conterno with the obvious intent to make it exceptional.

This bit of history is why I’m quite interested in watching, what I expect, is an increase in their quality and probably prices to go along with it.

The Difference Between a Gattinara and a Barolo

Barolo: Can only be made in the Barolo area and follows a specific regulation (disciplinare) from its DOCG.

Gattinara: Is made in the Gattinara village and, according to its DOCG, needs to be aged for a minimum of 3 years before the release and a minimum of 2 years in oak (This is 6 months longer than a Barolo!).  3 years and you have a Riserva.

The soil in Gattinara is volcanic and the temperature is cooler than in Barolo. The wine is made with min 90% Nebbiolo grape, locally named SPANNA, and for the
remaining 10% with UVA RARA and VESPOLINA. A Barolo, on the other hand, can only be made with 100% Nebbiolo grapes. 

Climate and soil differences in addition to the longer aging, the addition of other grapes on top of Nebbiolo, make the 2 wines in question, different…


The Gattinara relies less on power and more on elegance and perfume compared to the Barolo. At this point in time, it also costs 30% less than a Barolo!

Exploring the wine…

Colour: Light brick-red colour that is typical of the Nebbiolo grape and very similar to the French Pinot Noir. You can see the freshness and the strength of a young wine in the glass. You can see that this is a fresh strong powerful yet elegant wine by looking at its colour.


Nose: I can totally feel a harmony of sweet cherries, mint and mountain flowers. It’s a typical Nebbiolo nose but with some kind of aromas of mountain fields…even though I don’t really know much about fields in the mountains but that’s the feeling I get.

Taste: Fresh yet muscular and structured in the palate with high tannins and high acidity but not too aggressive. To me, this is an elegant and beautiful expression of a Nebbiolo from the north of Piemonte. It’s made by Roberto Conterno, probably the biggest Barolo guy around, with the same perfectionism he manically expresses in his more famous Barolos.


Conclusion: This Gattinara is for me to be drunk now, today. This wine is underpriced and I’m sure you will love it if you know what to expect: elegance, power, high acidity and tannins. I would love to try it again in five years’ time too and see what has happened to its acidity
and tannins: probably more integrated and less aggressive. Even though these wines could last for 20-30 years, I would say, do not pass the 10 years mark…but that is my view.


Open it now and enjoy it with a traditional Tajrin pasta with Truffles!
Life is too short: don’t wait!


Other notable producers of Gattinara are: Petterino, Travaglini, Antoniolo.


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