Gaja – Barbaresco, Piemonte
Angelo Gaja took over the family business in 1970. ‘The challenge was to maintain the basic power and depth of Nebbiolo while polishing the wines to give them richer colour, fuller fruit, better balance and a more refined style’. At the forefront of promoting the wines of Piemonte and Barbarresco in particular Gaja replanted many of the vineyards, installed temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks, introduced the concept of ageing wines in small oak barrels and began releasing single vineyard Barbarescos. Most controversial of all (least of all with his own father), Gaja planted some Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay on prime Barbaresco land. Today Gaja has 101 hectares of vineyards divided into 32 separate plots and produces around 30,000 cases of wine a year. The influence of the next generation, spearheaded by Angelo’s daughter Gaia, has continued with the family’s search for continuous improvement. The addition of Barbera into the crus has ceased and their estate in Bolgheri has seen the blends reworked to better reflect the lessons learned about soils and grapes since they first planted the vines here over 20 years ago. Gaja produces world-class wines and the property in Montalcino also sees them produce a small range of exquisitely crafted Brunello wines.
The Alteni di Brassica is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and is named after the stone walls and yellow flowers in and around the vineyard. The Gaia & Rey Chardonnay has the distinction of being the first Italian white wine aged in barriques. The vibrant Rossj-Bass Chardonnay is from vineyards In Barbaresco and Serralunga, seeing 6 months in oak after fermenting in steel. Almost 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the Darmagi is Angelo Gaja’s revolutionary first planting of the variety in Piemonte. The Sito Moresco is Angelo’s blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Merlot and Cabernet. The estate Barbaresco is blended from 14 individually vinified plots which see 12 months in barrel before and after blending. The three Gaja premium Barbarescos, the Costa Russi, Sorì San Lorenzo and Sorì Tildìn are truly the epitome of Angelo’s art. The Dagromis Barolo marries the power of Serralunga and the elegance of La Morra. The single vineyard Conteisa Barolo is predominantly from 65 year old vines and was reclassified from Langhe Nebbiolo with the 2013 vintage. In 1988 the Gaja family purchased a 12ha vineyard in one of the best sites in Serralunga and named it ‘Sperrs’, ‘nostalgia’ in the local dialect. This land gives us the towering Barolo Sperss. The Ca’Marcanda Vistamare is a blend of Vermentino and Viognier, the former fermented and aged in stainless steel, the latter in oak. The Ca’Marcanda Magari is a Bolgheri Bordeaux blend, all varieties used being fermented and matured separately for 12 months in oak prior to blending. The Ca’Marcanda Promis is an unconventional blend of Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese, offering a supple, enjoyable wine with backbone and character. The Ca’Marcanda itself is a Bolgheri Cabernet Sauvignon with 20% Cabernet Franc from soil rich in limestone. 18 months aging in oak and concrete is followed by several months bottle maturation prior to release. The grapes for the Brunello di Montalcino are from various different vineyard plots on the estate, all fermented and oak aged separately before blending and further aging in inert concrete vats. The Rennina Brunello di Montalcino is a blend of the Santo Pietro, Castagno, Pian dei Cerri vineyards, spending 12 months in barrique and a further 12 in large, 30 year old botti. The single vineyard Sugarille Brunello di Montalcino has ideal conditions for a long-lived, structured expression of Sangiovese, archives suggesting wine was being made here from 1541.