Alberto Cordero di Montezemolo is the 19th-generation owner of the over 600-year-old Cordero di Montezemolo located in the heart of Piedmont, La Morra. The 39-year-old winemaker today runs the storied Monfalletto Estate with his sister Elena. Known for its refined Barolos from its single vineyards such as Gattera and Enrico VI, the winery is among a few who that modernized Barolo style. In this interview, Alberto talks about family legacy, how Langhe inspired him, his seemingly unquenchable thirst for wine and why drinking the same wine for the rest of your life is unimaginable. The reason as he puts wittingly, is that “if I had to drink just one wine for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t be a good life.”
How many years have you aged so far?
You recognize exceptional vintages of Barolo because when they are between 30 and 50 years old and they are amazing wines. I’m 39 so I hope not to disappoint the expectations of friends and colleagues.
What led you to wine?
Life. That’s the answer. Life brings you everything and everywhere. And my life led me to wine the moment when I was born. I was born, raised and inspired in and by my land: the Langhe. This land is simply magical, and the more time passes, the more I realize what it is worth. Immense.
What’s your pet peeves about wine?
I don’t think I have a particular ability. In fact, I think I do many things well but I’m not the best at any. However, I think I’m lucky enough to have a lot of curiosity and the desire to improve myself, to better understand the reasons, to seek more correct solutions and to share these wishes with my team. And this works, I would say.
Describe what’s an alcohol-free day like for you?
Indispensable. I drink wine almost every day but I am very strict with my rules. I must not abuse it otherwise I pay for it for days … 10 years ago I was stronger (ahahh!), today I always drink a lot but with awareness and with intervals of “detox”, which is fundamental to maintain a healthy and energetic body. You live better with wine, 100%, but you need to know how to find the right weekly “dose” in order not to have adverse effects. In any case, a “no-wine day” is never as nice as a “wine day”.
What’s your secret passion?
No particular secrets. I am very passionate about cycling, a sport that I have only begun to appreciate for a few years but I really love it especially because I live in a place where this sport is a popular pastime! Seeing is believing.
What kind of wines are in your wine fridge?
At this moment it is almost empty! During the quarantine I have uncorked like never before! Always at home, never in a restaurant or enjoying a moment of leisure with friends and collaborators, sad and depressing news everywhere… So, the best thing in the family was to open a good bottle every day. Now I need some refill. I love to taste everything. If you want to make a good wine you have to taste many good wines. All types, from any part of the World, from different varieties and different styles. I especially love when I find wines from different producers, but same region, with opposite styles, but both able to excite me and tell me something. A wine producer knows how to interpret his work and his own land in a thousand ways and that is why I not only drink what I prefer but I also try to taste with a positive attitude also what generally doesn’t represent me but represents another form of expression very important for someone else.
What’s the weirdest wine you’ve tasted so far that you actually liked?
It is not a trivial question. If a wine is bad, I simply feel it on the nose or on the first sip and I don’t go further. It is not worth wasting time. But sometimes I get wines that I don’t understand. I notice that there is something wrong, that is not ok but at the same time I keep drinking it to better understand. And as I drink, it starts to interest me but basically it still doesn’t convince me. It’s funny, because drinking a lot and knowing the wine well one assumes that one knows well what he loves and what he doesn’t. However, there are wines that are mysterious, which I don’t really like, but in the end I find myself having finished the whole bottle. And then I start asking myself a thousand questions: If I don’t like it, why have I finished the whole bottle and would still like to have an extra glass to better understand? I love those situations because they are extremely didactic and open my mind to a thousand aspects of the wine business.
If you can recommend one wine to any leader in the world, who would it be and what would you recommend?
Barolo, what else? All great leaders usually have three characteristics: Personality, dynamism and courage. Barolo has these peculiarities too: it has a great personality even without being exuberant; it changes continuously in the glass according to the moments and is courageous when, accompanied with any dish, proves to be always up to pairing.
If you can drink any wine in the world, which wine would you like to have?
As I said in the previous answer, I like to explore any area and I don’t put limits on it. In restaurants, it depends a lot on the mood, the time, the offer (what tickles me the most on the list), the company, the season… it must always be something stimulating, otherwise fresh water is fine!
If you are a wine, how would you imagine your tasting note would be like?
Weird (ahhahah). Kidding. We should ask this question to somebody else probably. My hope would obviously be to taste like a great wine.
What makes you happy?
Fortunately there are many things that make me happy. Many. But if I had to say one without thinking too much I would say my daughter.
If you can only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
if I had to drink just one wine for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t be a good life.