About a decade ago, Roberto Conterno, grandson of Giacomo and the owner-winemaker at the Giacomo Conterno estate, came into my store unexpectedly; I hastily cobbled together a group for dinner at my favorite laid-back eatery, La Pizza Fresca. As I ran out the door to meet everyone, I took a bottle of Roberto's wine with me, a 1937 Barolo Monfortino. We took up a bunch of tables that the staff pushed together, and as everyone chatted noisily, we started drinking bottles of Gravner and eating pizza, ordering more pizza and more wine as soon as a plate or a bottle was empty.
Neither Roberto nor I had ever tried this '37 Monfortino. I'd gotten a couple of bottles from a cellar in Turin, but I'd not opened one. Eventually, the waiter placed the decanted bottle on a table next to us, about five or ten feet away. I could smell the wine from across the distance, and Roberto could too.
When the wine was poured, the other couples were still chatting and eating pizza. Roberto and I stuck our noses in the glass, looked around, looked at each other, and asked the one question you should ask when you're tasting something truly great: "What the hell is this?" We both took a sip. I started to drink, and right away, I knew that I was having one of the greatest experiences of my life.
This wine was mystical. It had undergone a kind of wine apotheosis. I wasn't fit to kiss this wine's hem, but here I was drinking it, and it was truly beautiful. Roberto and I looked at each other, we smiled the smiles of the newly beatified, and he professed that it was possibly the best bottle of wine he'd ever had. Made by his grandfather during the war, under great duress, this wine was possibly the best bottle of wine his estate had ever made.
Today, I'm proud to offer seven more bottles of Monfortino, and while I don't know if any of them rival that '37, I do know that each one is extraordinary. It's difficult to drink a wine more profound, more revelatory, or more transcendent than a seventy-year-old Monfortino. Here is your chance.