Name Game

A deal on a hallmark wine

Shakespeare may have contested the importance of a name, but most winemakers would say that nomenclature matters quite a lot.

Take the newly released 2008 Giacomo Conterno Langhe "Cerretta." It drinks identically to Barolo, but its name means that it will cost considerably less.

The Conterno estate bears a hallowed reputation for producing some of the finest single-vineyard Barolo on the market, and each bottle fetches hundreds of dollars.

In 2008, Roberto Conterno, who currently runs the estate, purchased a new plot of vines in the storied Barolo vineyard of Cerretta. He wasn't in control of the vineyard from the start of the growing season, so he declassified his first release from Barolo to the less specialized "Langhe" designation. Consequently, thanks to the semantic twist, you can now buy the equivalent of a single-vineyard Conterno Barolo for only $65.

After an hour or two in the glass, the wine opens to reveal dazzling dried cherry Nebbiolo fruit, complemented by a delicately seductive floral component and a textbook whiff of orange peel.

Next year, Conterno will probably return the estate's bottlings to the Barolo label. The cost will increase accordingly, so there couldn't be a better time to splurge. Stash the bottle away for a few years, then pop the cork at a special occasion: The wait will more than reward your investment.