VISIT TO GAJA
I don’t believe there would be much controversy if I stated that Gaja winery in Barbaresco could be credited with playing one of the major roles of putting Piemonte on the map and bringing Nebbiolo into the spotlight as a world class grape.
I always love starting out my tours with a walk through Barbaresco and explaining the history of Gaja and their influence. However, I had never actually been lucky enough to visit Gaja winery myself and has always been on my bucket list.
It used to be industry only until they started requesting a significant tasting fee which goes to a charity of their choice. You can only imagine how many requests they must get to visit the winery so this is a great idea to give back to the community.
SORI’ SAN LORENZO
The tour for us started in the vineyard at Sori San Lorenzo close to the Barbaresco town center with the charming Giulia.
Gaja’s vineyards are very interesting and easy to spot because the vines run vertically rather than following the curves of the hills. You can also find the tall cyprus trees nearby which are not so commonplace in Piemonte.
They had a velo di sposa on the vines which is a new experiement in the vineyards. Gaja uses innovative techniques and works with botanists, researchers and scholars to best preserve this ancient and precious land.
Sexual confusion pheromones are used in the vineyards to avoid pesticides and they even have their own humus which is made with Californian worms that decompose the manure for the best soil treatment. These are just a few examples of the care that goes into working the vineyards.
What is a Sori’?
You can find Sori’ written on a few of Gaja’s most famous labels which means the parcels where the snow melted first. In turn, this means it is an ideal sun exposure an therefore the best place to plant Nebbiolo vines.
Why San Lorenzo?
San Lorenzo is the patron saint of Alba and the name of the main cathedral. The church had owned this parcel before the Gajas purchased it in 1964. It is within the MGA Secondine facing south.
The cellar tour was unbelievable and started in the old tavern where the family served food and drinks in the past.
Barbaresco was probably even more bustling than today with the river commerce and active train station nearby.
Then we were led down the stairs into the incredible maze of large tinos, traditional barrels and small French casks.
We walked underneath the road and ended up back in the beautiful old castle of Barbaresco where we got ready for our tasting.
The history and chronology of the labels in the building was very interesting and fun to see the style change slightly with the different eras.
GAIA & REY 2020 (Chardonnay)
Rey was the maiden name of Angelo’s grandmother, the great Clotilde who played an important role in the management of the family business and winery. Gaia is the name of Angelo’s first born daughter so this is a sort of ode to the important women in the family.
Brief tasting note (I was so excited it was hard to focus): Lemon curd and sweet pineapple with refreshing acidity and a seamless elegant mouthfeel. I remember tasting this wine about 8 years ago and it seemed to have a bit more oak influence while this time I absolutely loved the balance and complexity. It was fantastic!
* It was the first Chardonnay planted in Piemonte (Treiso and then later in Serralunga)
* It was the first white wine to be aged in small French barriques in the area.
If I understood correctly, because of the 40% damage to vines in 2018 due to hail, Gaja decided to put the crus just in the classico both for 2018 and 2019.
Description: Explosive strawberry jam and red cherry on the nose. Again a lovely seemless sensual feel on the palate with extreme elegance and suprisingly long persistance. Another fantastic wine! 3/3
CONTEISA 2018 BAROLO
Conteisa is named after a long historical dispute between the towns of La Morra and Barolo over this property. The vineyards are in the MGA cru of Cerequio in La Morra and the wine is aged for about 30 months in oak.
Description: Nose of ripe raspberries and dark black cherry with a sweeter riper fruit. On the palate the wine was energetic with refreshing acid. Congruent to the nose with the addition of blueberry and strawberry fruit roll up. Again 3/3 stars for me!
SPERSS 2013 BAROLO
The vineyards for this Barolo are coming from the Eastern older soils of Serralunga d’Alba. Sperss means nostalgia in Piedmontese dialect because of Angelo’s fathers good childhood memories of Serralunga.
Description: Considering the more powerful vintage even if older, when compared to the Conteisa from La Morra, the stronger power and spiciness is evident! The classic aromas of mint, roses and tar danced out of the glass. On the palate it was racy with medium tannins. Flavors were congruent to the nose with the addition of licorice and a very long finish. 3/3 stars again!
COSTA RUSSI 1999 LANGHE NEBBIOLO
Between roughly 1996-2013 there was a very small percentage of Barbera blended with the Nebbiolo which then was not allowed to be called Barbaresco.
Description: Nose of forest floor and old cedar wood with coffee grinds and a bit of smoke. Incredibly youthful with nice acidity, minerally long finish. Impressive! 2/3
SORI SAN LORENZO 1995 BARBARESCO
Wow what a treat! Despite being the oldest wine in the range, this was the most outstanding for me!
Description: By now I was so emothional about tasting this special wine that I only wrote down: Lavender, dried herbs, spice with minty eucolyptus notes. Lean and fresh with very long finish. Incredibly youthful and complex. 4/3 stars!!! 🙂
I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity thanks to my friend Giulia and dear clients that let me accompany them on this memorable visit. The Gaja are like royalty to me and it was an honour to see the beautiful grounds and meticulous cellar.
I have such a greater appreciation now for this family and their winery. The tasting fee is quite high but all goes to a charity, usually local so it is for a good cause.
HAVE YOU EVER TASTED ANY GAJA WINES?