This big, beefy Barolo opens with such tremendous purity of fruit you’ll want to sit with the bouquet for a long minute before you take that first, glorious sip. A wine this good deserves to be savored. Also, a little time and air does wonders for pulling all of the elements together, bringing in some lovely minerality to join the core of cherry, strawberry, licorice and tar. Still tight and structured after a decade, this beauty could cruise for another 30 years.
Angelo Gaja, born in 1940, remains the alpha male of Italian winemaking, one of a long line of natural-born leaders and entrepreneurs. His father, Giovanni, was the political secretary for Barbaresco under Mussolini, and was so popular with the local citizenry that the Italian resistance never harmed him during WWII. Giovanni went on to become Mayor of Barbaresco from 1958 to 1983. For most of the postwar period, Giovanni worked as a construction manager all over Piedmont, and invested all of his earnings in land, while his mother, Clotilde Rey, AKA Tildin, ran the winery. By the time young Angelo entered the family business in 1961, the family owned 82 acres of prime vineyard land in Barbaresco and their brand was already well-known throughout Italy. In the following years, Angelo went on to build an Italian institution, adding estate vineyards in the Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and Bolgheri appellations. Today Gaja [GUY-yuh] is arguably the most prestigious wine brand in Italy.
Extremely pure fruit on the nose here with aromas of plums and strawberries and hints of cedar and rose petals, as well as rose stems. Full body. Very tannic and structured, yet polished and refined. Dusty and stony undertones and textures. Drink after 2021.JD97
A big, beefy Barolo, the 2015 Barolo Conteisa comes from a site near La Morral and was first made in 1996. It takes plenty of air to come together but offers a complex bouquet of bright cherry and currant fruit interwoven with classic licorice, tar, sappy flowers, and even hints of iron. It shows a touch more minerality with time in the glass, but this is classic, full-bodied, powerful Nebbiolo with plenty of ripe tannins, a stacked mid-palate, and a blockbuster finish. Give this structured, tight 2015 upwards of a decade of cellaring, and it's going to keep for 30 years or more.WA96
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.WS93
Savory, with salinity wrapping around a core of cherry, strawberry, licorice, eucalyptus and tar flavors. Supple in texture yet firmly structured, showing nice harmony and a long finish. Best from 2021 through 2036.WE93
Underbrush, toast and oak aromas form the nose. Firm and austere, the linear palate evokes tart cranberry, raw pomegranate, sage and roasted coffee bean alongside taut, close-grained tannins. Drink 2023–2030.VN97
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.