Rare Nebbiolo from Piedmont's Northern Reaches: 89 Conti Boca

Posted by CrushWine

Library Release Northern Nebbiolo
1989 Castello Conti Boca
Age and Altitude Unlock Perfume, Poise, Mineral

Past Barolo and Barbaresco, in the cooler and higher elevations of Northern Italy, beautiful and haunting things happen to Nebbiolo...

The ravishing, high-wire nature of these unique expressions of Italy's most noble grape become all the more thrilling as they age, which is what makes today's 22-year-old such a fascinating find.

Those who have enjoyed Ferrando's Carema, Ar Pe Pe's Valtellina, reds from the Jura and Bara's Bouzy Rouge are strongly encouraged to check this out.

Today's wine hails straight from producer Castello Conti's cellar in Boca, a tiny jewel of a DOC (totaling a mere 15 hectares!) in the northern extreme of Piedmont. 

While today's price is the lowest in the nation, this is hardly the point - it's still a relatively expensive bottle of wine from a rather obscure place. But Nebbiolo, in this small part of the world is special, very special. Making wine in Boca is back breaking work and risk filled. Nebbiolo ripens late, particularly here, and only the best most dedicated vineyard work yields sufficiently ripe grapes. And obviously, there's a cost to cellaring a wine for over 20 years; there's a value to a provenance like this.

In the context of the great 1989 Barolos and Barbarescos, today's rarity is a steal; it's also a celebration of the diversity, the complexity of Nebbiolo and the geography of Italy itself.

Barolo and Barbaresco may enjoy the easy spotlight, but when Nebbiolo speaks from these kinds of cooler climates, a perfume and snappy acid structure are unlocked from the grape, speaking in a fascinating and singularly compelling way.

The 1989 Conti Boca shows the tension that's expected from these northerly precincts, but it also displays a velvety texture. The nose and palate offer an absolutely lovely procession of bright red fruits, spices, flowers, leather and salty minerality. Everything is present with a sense of poise, clarity and delineation.

As the wine's aromatics, acid structure and striking saline mineral effects testify, Conti's Boca is born at impressive altitudes of 1,500 feet and on soils that combine glacial moraines with sand, clay and limestone. The tradition in the region (and the requirement of the DOC) is to blend Nebbiolo with local grapes Vespolina (20%) and Uva Rara (10%). Vespolina, a genetic relative of Nebbiolo, is thought to add spice and some roundness to the wine.

The 89 vintage in Piedmont is generally thought to be the best vintage of the eighties, having produced wines that combined ripe fruit with lively fresh acidity and serious tannins. Conti's Boca displays all of the 89 vintage's traits as it enters its peak drinking window. Take special note: The wine is still holding enough in reserve to benefit from another 3-5 years of cellaring - and possibly more.

One has to be happy with the situation in the wine world today where it's possible to find a traditionally made Nebbiolo from an obscure appellation that's been perfectly stored and is drinking near its peak. We strongly encourage those with an interest in the classic and the eclectic to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

1989 Castello Conti Boca

Special Email Bottle Price: $76.95
Compare at: $85

Special Email 3-Pack Price: $214.20 ($71.40 / btl)

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