October 9, 2020
Move Over Spress – It’s the Other Side of GAJA from the Grand Cru Vineyard of Barolo. The GAJA Touch from the Cerequio Cru Stuns the IWM Team. 2015 GAJA Conteisa - The Finest Release In Twenty Years.
“The 2015 Barolo Conteisa is an exotic wine, and also one of the most complete, alluring Conteisas I have ever tasted ... best of all, the 2015 will be ready to deliver pleasure with just a few years in bottle. I loved it.” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous
It's a classic Piemonte and Barolo tale – you have the historic cru of Cerequio in La Morra, you have the iconic name of GAJA, and you have Mother Nature blessing the Langhe Hills with one of the greatest vintages of our lifetime in 2016. It’s the making of legendary wines, as we saw with the 100 point, 2016 GAJA Sperss. However, you also have Piemonte’s greatest threat – HAIL. And that is what happen in for GAJA and his Barolo Conteisa from Cerequio in 2016. It is heartbreaking, but while all eyes are on 2016 Barolo and Sperss, we took a step back and tasted a vertical of Conteisa going back two decades - and the wine that absolutely stunned us was the 2015 GAJA Barolo Conteisa.
We are not alone in our opinions on the great sleeper Grand Cru Barolo of GAJA. In fact, for Antonio Galloni and Vinous, the 2015 GAJA Barolo Conteisa is the highest rated release since 1996. What IWM appreciates here, much in the way that Marta has done at Giuseppe Rinaldi, and Maria Teresa has done at Bartolo Mascarello, is that Angelo’s daughters have brought out even more finesse, balance, and elegance from the historic site. And while GAJA’s celebrated Barolo Spress over in Serralunga is more concentrated, richer, more structured – it is also more ferocious, and it is a wine that needs substantial time. For the IWM team the 2015 GAJA Barolo Conteisa displayed a Grand Cru Burgundy elegance with balance we have not seen in a GAJA wine. It is a Barolo in harmony that is deceivingly approachable today.
As for the history on Conteisa, in 1995, GAJA decided to purchase a second farm in the Barolo appellation, this time in the township of La Morra. Nearly all of the property’s vineyards lie in the famed Cerequio cru, widely recognized as one of the finest growing sites on the west side of the Barolo-Alba road. The location of the cru along the border between the communes of La Morra and Barolo (to the south). The prized fruit has made it one of the most coveted and “contended” in the appellation, with both townships vying for greater surface area under their control. For this reason, GAJA decided to call the wine Conteisa, Piedmontese dialect for the Italian contesa, meaning the contended vineyard, and in 1996 bottled the first vintage.
Featured Wine: The Grand Cru of La Morra and Angelo GAJA - Conteisa
Additional Notes and Reviews:
2015 GAJA Barolo Conteisa
Christopher Deas, Italian Wine Merchants: “While all eyes are the classic 2016 vintage in Piemonte, the IWM Team tasted a vertical of Conteisa going back two decades – and the wine that stunned was the 2015 Conteisa. The reality is, the wines of GAJA in Piemonte are pinnacle expressions, but they are often unapproachable in their long youth. Enter the celebrated and Grand Cru like vineyard of Cerequio and Angelo’s Barolo Conteisa. These are wines that capture the more feminine and elegant side of Barolo. Well, in 2015 these qualities were best captured in the warm vintage and by Angelo’s daughters. This is the most balanced and friendly Barolo we have tasted from GAJA – ever. Dare we say it is deceivingly approachable and delicious today? It is a wine that can easily please the Burghead and the Nebbiolo purist. There may be no 2016 Conteisa, but there is still plenty to celebrate with this expression – the finest in 20 years.”
97 Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous: “The 2015 Barolo Conteisa is a heady, exotic wine, and also one of the most complete, alluring Conteisas I have ever tasted. Conteisa is usually a wine of grace and understatement. The 2015, on the other hand, is a bold, sweeping Barolo that saturates the palate with stunning depth and volume. Even with all of its intensity, the 2015 remains vibrant. This is such a complete, harmonious wine.” (11/2019)
96 Points, Monica Larner, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: “The large shoulders of this warm 2015 vintage contrast sharply with the delicate nuances of the 2016 Barbarescos also released now from Gaja. The 2015 Barolo Conteisa is intense, with a background chorus of plum, prune, herb, mint and wild cherry. It's a very balanced Barolo. The Cerequio vineyard that provides this fruit often suffers from hail damage because the vineyard is located along the corridor of bad weather that comes over the hill from La Morra. There was some damage in mid-August, but fruit in the 2016 vintage suffered much more extensively in comparison. In fact, so little fruit was saved that Gaia Gaja is pretty sure this wine will not be produced next vintage. She tells me that they are now experimenting with anti-hail netting at this site—an eyesore they had long hoped to avoid.” (8/2018)
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