The story of the Conti sisters, one of the most exciting growers in the DOC, is a twofold triumph: as ultra-committed winegrowers who are reclaiming and replanting old vineyards in this difficult-to-farm zone, they are part of a larger effort to restore the Alto Piemonte to its pre-phylloxera glory and productivity; and, as visionary, trend-bucking women in a deeply conservative rural area, they have gradually overcome the skepticism and resistance of the local old timers, establishing themselves as undeniable leaders in the region. Elena, Paola, and Anna Conti are no newcomers, either; their father Ermanno, from whom they took over between 2002 and 2003, was one of the founders of the Boca DOC in the late 1960s, persisting in eking out wine from his single hectare there even as total production neared extinction during its nadir in the 1980s and ‘90s.
Today, the sisters farm three total hectares in the zone, including a hectare and a half they cleared and replanted beginning in 2015, and their rigorous, biodynamically informed viticultural practices and extreme non-interventionism in the cellar place them squarely in the region’s vanguard. Indigenous yeast are used in fermentation and little to no sulphur is applied during the elevage and at bottling. In fact, several experimental cuvees are bottled entirely without the application of sulphur.
The Boca DOC, one of the smallest appellations in the Alto Piemonte, encompasses only twelve hectares spread over five villages (Boca, Maggiora, Cavallino, Prato Sesia, Grignasco) and split among eleven different vineyard owners. While Nebbiolo is the principal grape, Vespolina and Uva Rara are integral parts of the DOC as well. The soils are composed of limestone, clay and sand, similar in profile to Gattinara, which is a short 10km drive to the southwest. However, the Boca DOC has a distinctly different structure from its neighbor, Gattinara. It is more elegant and less masculine, and requires that the wines must be aged three years prior to release.
Wines from the Conti sisters announce with authority the potential for absolute greatness—not just greatness “for the region,” but a greatness on par with any Nebbiolo-based wine from anywhere—in this exciting place. Whether tasted in their youth or after decades, these are some of the most enchanting Nebbiolo wines that to be discovered.
"One of the historic names in the tiny Boca appellation, Conti crafts beautifully pure wines that faithfully capture the personality of the region. The entry-level Origini and Nebbiolo Colline Novaresi are both terrific, while the flagship Boca is truly stellar. Readers will not want to miss these wines."
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