June 2013 #207
Just a short while ago, in the midst of one of Italy’s darkest political hours when forming a functioning government seemed like an exercise in futility, someone sent me a Facebook petition proposing Angelo Gaja as a candidate for President of the Republic of Italy. Although Angelo himself would brush it off as jest, that seedling of a (good) idea took the Internet by firestorm. What he has demonstrated over the years, besides from his infectious enthusiasm and keen ability to communicate his thoughts with brilliant clarity and gumption, is a natural ability for leadership. Barbaresco is lucky to have an Angelo Gaja, the Langhe is lucky to have him, and Italy is, too.
GAJA 2010 Barbaresco
Smack from the start, the 2010 Barbaresco shows full-on Gajissimo personality with irresistible opulence and intensity, magically contrasted against remarkable smoothness and finesse. Everyone wants to know his secret. The wine delivers seductively rich concentration and integrated oak that is offset by a delicate portfolio of chiseled mineral, dried berry fruit, Spanish cedar, crushed herb, anisette and blue flower. Fruit is sourced from 14 vineyards in Barbaresco. It already leaves a mark, but will reward those who wait. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2028.
GAJA 2009 Barolo Sperss
The 2009 Sperss sees fruit sourced from Serralunga d’Alba and those telltale signs of the territory are definitely on full display. The power, added structure and thicker density of the wine speak to this corner of the Barolo denomination. Bold cherry and spice are rounded off by leather, tobacco and a touch of toasted Alba hazelnut. The finish is soft and caressing even at this young stage, yet the wine still needs more time to evolve. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2038.
GAJA 2009 Conteisa
The 2009 Conteisa sees fruit harvested from the Cerequio cru in La Morra and is one of two “Barolo-inspired” wines made by the Gaja family. A small percentage of Barbera is added to the blend. Very expressive of the cru, Conteisa opens with a beautifully floral footprint of pressed rose and blue violets followed by bright cherry, cassis, chopped mint, licorice, tar, ginger and delicately smoked cedar. Again, the complexity is mind-blowing. The wine glides effortlessly over the palate, but make no mistake, that tight, tannic austerity kicks in at the back. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2040.
GAJA 2010 Costa Russi
The 2010 Costa Russi is a vineyard-designate “Barbaresco” (although the wine’s addition of five percent Barbera prohibits it from being called such) that opens to even more profound depth and generosity. As is typical of this cru expression, the wine displays an amazing assortment of aromas that span from the floral to the spicy. Supple, round and seductive, it caresses the palate in the most beautiful fashion. The 2010 vintage is shaping up handsomely for those who collect Gaja’s best bottles. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2035.
GAJA 2010 Sorì San Lorenzo
A banner wine for Gaja, the 2010 Sori San Lorenzo brings the infinite and ethereal aromas associated with Nebbiolo into startling focus and clarity. Again, like the Sori Tildin, the structure and tannic firmness of the wine will carry the wine forward over the years and decades ahead. It demands much more time until it fully blossoms. I walked through the San Lorenzo vineyard with Gaia Gaja and she showed me some of their recent activity. Every second row is planted with barley that acts as a natural rototiller given its aggressive root system. Borrowing other “New World” ideas, they’ve started compost piles with Californian red worms and are using (with less success, I’m told) wooden tree boxes to repopulate the birds. All of this must seem very odd to the neighbors. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040.
GAJA 2010 Sorì Tildin
Gaia Gaja uses the word “salty” to describe this next wine, and I see her point. The 2010 Sori Tildin shows a dry, firmly structured quality that enhances those extraordinary, breezy overtones of lead pencil and brimstone that so fittingly frame the Nebbiolo grape. The lingering end-notes of rose petal, ginger and cedar are striking. You immediately feel the tannic structure and power of the wine. The jump is very sharp next to the Costa Russi, and that’s why this is one of Gaja’s best cellar-agers. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040.