It all started way back in 1886, when Paolo Conterno founded the Casa della Ginestra, dedicated to the production of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto wines. An indefatigable worker with a mind of great intuition, he devoted the most favourable parts of the Ginestra hillside to the growing of the grapes, subdividing them by type, exposure and terrain. Furthermore, he had the foresight to predict the existence of a market of connoisseurs of superior quality products, selling his own wine in wooden kegs and produced by himself in his own cellar. Paolo was succeeded by his son Carlo and his wife Giuseppina. The company was subsequently run by Paolo and Caterina Conterno and today the company is managed by their son Giorgio.
As in the past, each of us makes his own contribution, caring for the vineyards with scrupulous dedication, involving the successive generations. At one time, trust was placed in the few means available, and in perseverance and determination. Modern technology, with its labour-saving devices, spares us the exertions of those times and, in part thanks to the experience we have gained, enables us to operate in the best possible way and to reap great satisfaction and ever newer stimuli from our work
Recognized as the source of the best Barbera in all of Italy, Asti is a province (as well as major city) in Piedmont, consisting of a gentle, rolling landscape with vineyards, farmland and forests alternating throughout.
Barbera d’Asti can be made in an array of styles from relatively straightforward, fruity and ready for consumption early, to the more concentrated, oak aged version with an ability to cellar impressively for 10-15 years and beyond. Some of the very best sites for Barbera in Asti are concentrated in the subzone of Nizza Monferrato. Other red varieties grown here include Freisa, Grignolino and Dolcetto, which can be bottled varietally or blended into Barbera.
Historically consumers commonly associated the Asti region with Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, both playful, aromatic, sparkling wines made from the Muscat grape. Asti Spumante is less sweet, fully fizzy and more alcoholic (yet still clocking in at only around 9% alcohol) while Moscato d’Asti is sweeter, gently sparkling (“frizzante”) and closer to 5 or 6% alcohol. Each is produced in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh and fruity flavors of the grape, often including peach, apricot, lychee and rose petal. Asti is also the spot for the pink-hued Brachetto d'Acqui, a slightly sparkling wine ready to charm with its raspberry and rose flavors and aromas.
Friendly and approachable, Barbera produces wines in a wide range of styles, from youthful, fresh and fruity to serious, structured and age-worthy. Piedmont is the most famous source of Barbera; those from Asti and Alba garner the most praise. Barbera actually can adapt to many climates and enjoys success in some New World regions. Somm Secret—In the past it wasn’t common or even accepted to age Barbera in oak but today both styles—oaked and unoaked—abound and in fact most Piedmontese producers today produce both styles.