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Gaja Conteisa 2003

Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Italy
  • WS96
  • RP91
0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

Color: Garnet.

Aroma: Expressive floral nose with notes of red berries, plums, licorice and spices.

Taste: The Nebbiolo in Conteisa reflects the essence of the Cerrequio terroir: sumptuous texture and a very refined character with perfectly integrated tannins.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
WS 96
Wine Spectator
Offers fabulous aromas of blueberry and lilac. Full-bodied, with a solid core of ripe fruit and round, caressing tannins. This is deep and concentrated, yet wonderfully balanced. Superb. The best Conteisa after 2000.
RP 91
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2003 Conteisa, from the Cerequio vineyard in La Morra, is especially intense in this vintage. It is a rich, full-bodied Conteisa made in a sweet, super-ripe style, with outstanding palate presence and well-integrated tannins. In 2003 the floral, spices notes that are the hallmark of this vineyard are somewhat attenuated. Still, all things considered, this is a lovely effort. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019.

Angelo Gaja and long-time oenologist Guido Rivella produced some of the most monumental wines of their long, storied partnership in 2004. Although I admire Gaja’s wines, especially for their consistency, I rarely find them this emotionally moving and utterly profound. The stable weather and cool, tempering evenings towards the end of the growing season allowed Gaja and Rivella to harvest fairly late in 2004. I remember passing by Gaja’s Barbaresco vineyards in October of that year and seeing fruit still waiting to be picked long after most producers had already brought the fruit in. Gaja’s 2004s from Barbaresco are especially breathtaking for their clarity and precision. The wines also seem less internationally-styled than in the past. Readers fortunate enough to possess the means to acquire these wines won’t want to miss them! The 2003s from the Barolo zones of La Morra and Serralunga are also strong efforts considering the vintage. "Historically in Piedmont there has been an inverse relationship between quality and quantity. Great vintages like 1961 and 1989 were characterized by low yields," says Gaja. "2004 is one of those rare vintages like 1964 and 1990 where quality is high even though yields were generous as well. I think 2004 is a very elegant vintage. It is much easier to achieve opulence in the wines, but finesse is always much more elusive."

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Gaja, Piedmont, Italy
2003 Conteisa
The story of the Gaja Winery can be traced to a singular, founding purpose: to produce original wines with a sense of place which reflect the tradition and culture of those who made it. This philosophy has inspired five generations of impeccable winemaking. It started over 150 years ago when Giovanni Gaja opened a small restaurant in Barbaresco, making wine to complement the food he served. In 1859, he founded the Gaja Winery, producing some of the first wine from Piedmont to be bottled and sold outside the region. Ever since, the winery has been shaped by each generation’s hand, notably that of Angelo Gaja. Under Angelo's direction, the the native Nebbiolo grape was elevated to world-class esteem.

Today, Angelo Gaja, alongside Guido Rivella, his winemaker since 1970, and his daughter, Gaia, advance their legacy. To fully realize their vision, all Gaja wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown in estate-owned vineyards, including 250 acres in Piedmont's Barbaresco and Barolo districts as well as estates in Pieve Santa Restituta (Montalcino) and Ca’Marcanda (Bolgheri). It is from these storied vineyards, and the earth, weather and vines upon them, that Gaja wines reveal their true heart.


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A prestigious and distinctive region for red wines in northwestern Italy, Piedmont is responsible for some of the country’s longest-lived, most sought-after wines. Set in the foothills of the Alps, the terrain consists of visually stunning rolling hills. The most prized vines are planted at higher altitudes on the warmer, south-facing slopes where sunlight exposure is maximized. The climate is continental, with cold winters and hot, muggy summers. Despite the rain shadow effect of the Alps, precipitation takes place year-round, and a cooling fog provides moisture that aids in the ripening of grapes.

Easy-going Barbera is the most planted grape in Piedmont, beloved for its trademark high acidity, low tannin, and juicy red fruit. However, the most prized variety is Nebbiolo, named for the region’s omnipresent fog (“nebbia” in Italian). This grape is responsible for the exalted wines of Barbaresco and Barolo, known for their ageability, firm tannins, and hallmark aromas of tar and roses. Nebbiolo wines, despite their pale hue, pack a pleasing punch of flavor and structure, and the best examples, when made in a traditional style, require about a decade’s wait before they become approachable. Barbaresco tends to be more elegant in style while Barolo is more powerful. More affordable and imminently drinkable Nebbiolo can be found in the larger Langhe area as well as Gattinara, Ghemme, and other less-prominent appellations. Dolcetto is Piedmont’s other important red grape, ready to drink as quickly as Barbera but with lower acidity and higher tannin. White wines are less important here but can be high in quality, and include Arneis, Gavi, and sweet, fizzy wines made from Muscat.


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Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area as well as in neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it is at its best in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo is a finicky grape, and needs a very particular soil type in order to thrive. Outside of Italy, it often fails to show the captivating aromas for which it is so beloved, but some success has been achieved in parts of California.

In the Glass

Nebbiolo is an elegant variety with mouthwatering acidity and a compelling perfume of rose petals, violets, fresh tar, licorice, clay, and dried cherries. Light in color and body, Nebbiolo is a more powerful wine than one might expect, and its firm tannins typically need time to mellow. With age, it develops a velvety texture and a stunningly complex bouquet.

Perfect Pairings

Nebbiolo’s love affair with food starts in Piedmont, which is home to the Slow Food movement and some of Italy’s best produce. The region is famous for its white truffles and wild boar ragu, both of which make for excellent pairings with Nebbiolo.

Sommelier Secret

If you love Barolo and Barbaresco but can’t afford to drink them every night, you can try the more wallet-friendly, earlier-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo. But Piedmont’s best-kept secret is the northern part of the region, where outstanding earthy and rustic versions of the variety (known here as “Spanna”) are produced in Ghemme and Gattinara.

ULL67773_2003 Item# 92595