For me, the Gaja family are one of the reasons why Barbaresco is now considered to be one of the greatest wines’ of the world. This has not always been the case, as if not for the hard (and sometimes controversial) work of Angelo Gaja, Barbaresco might not have such a high standing in our world of wine. This has nothing to do with quality, but more to do with the acceptance of Barbaresco being the equal to that of Barolo.
Angelo Gaja has not only been able to lift the profile of Barbaresco and the wines of Gaja to be placed amongst the finest of Italy, but their wines are now accepted to be the equal of the most noble wines of the world.
The hard work of Angelo Gaja has done promoting the wines of Gaja around the world is now undertaken by his daughter, Gaia Gaja. Angelo must be proud to have such a smart and passionate daughter by his side telling the story of Gaja around the world. I first met Gaia in Melbourne a few years ago and it was an honour to have Gaia return the favour on an amazing tour of her families vineyards and cellars in Barbaresco. As much as I know and understand Gaja, I feel a deeper understanding and greater respect for the reasons why this family has been so influential and successful.
The cellars of Gaja are amazing and seemingly take up half the town of Barbaresco. The cellar and winery are spotless and nothing is left to chance, different size barrels (from large to small) are situated on different levels of the cellar.
On every corner and floor of the cellars, a different piece of art captivates your eye. In some wineries it might seem out of place, but here in the heart of Barbaresco it serves of a reminder of the beauty of Barbaresco and its’ wines.
It was a fascinating experience to visit each of the single vineyard cru’s with Gaia and listen to her explain the differences between each site. Different row orientation, soil and aspect all contribute to the differences between the three single vineyard cru’s.
After a tour of the cellar and vineyards, we went upstairs to the tasting room to try a number of different wines under the Gaja label. As we walked through the corridor, Gaia’s mum was hosting an international tasting for a bunch of buyers. Little things like this illustrate to me why the family has been so successful: they all work hard in all parts of their business.
We tried through a number of different wines spanning over two decades. For me, the three wines that stood out (and I could have easily chosen any of the ten wines as they were all of the highest quality) were the 2008 ‘Estate’ Barbaresco, 1999 Sperss and 1989 Darmagi. Below are my tasting notes on the three wines:
2008 ‘Estate’ Barbaresco: perfume, tightly wound, red berries, rhubarb, quite savoury, ripe tannins and balanced. So youthful with many many years in front of it.
1999 Sperss: Amazing, so perfect, will hold for many years. Sweet graphite, earth, minerals, so youthful and expressive.
1989 Darmagi: Served blind by Gaia, I picked it as 1999. Well a decade off, not bad! Hint of capsicum and ginger, very Cabernet palate but with an expression of the Langhe. Amazing wine, so perfect.
It was a perfect way to finish an amazing few hours with Gaia Gaja in the cellars of Gaja in Barbaresco. Grazie Mille Gaia!!