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Wine Spectator: Gaja, Modernity, Tradition and Passion in Italy

wine spectator gajaFrom the October 29, 2013 online edition of Wine Spectator (in the photo, from the left, Gaia Gaja and her father, Angelo, with Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson, standing).

At just after 9:30 a.m. on the third day of the Wine Experience, attendees could have been excused if they had chosen to sleep in after two nights of Grand Tastings and a Friday filled with seminars. But the ballroom was packed, every seat taken.

Angelo Gaja was on stage.

Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator, remembers the first time the Piedmontese vintner—who revitalized the Barbaresco appellation—spoke to a Wine Experience audience. “Afterward, there was a line from the stage all the way to the back, of people lined up to shake his hand or say hello, as if he was the Pope.”

Gaja was joined this time by his eldest daughter, Gaia, who works with him, continuing the family business, which is now a five-generation tradition. Father and daughter discussed their three wineries and presented four iconic wines that displayed the qualities that have made their family a success—coupling modernity and tradition with passion.

Angelo commented that he enjoyed seeing so many young people at the Wine Experience because modernity is crucial for wine’s future. Fittingly, he started with a wine from his most modern project—Ca’ Marcanda, on Tuscany’s coast in Bolgheri. Unlike their other two wineries, Ca’ Marcanda has no tradition. “In Italy,” explained Gaia, “when you’re very lucky, we say, ‘You discovered America,’ because every family has someone who traveled to America for a better life. The idea of America is hope, opportunity, a brighter future. In Bolgheri, we traveled to our America. It is the only place in Italy where there is no deep tradition of wine, a place that is very open-minded and welcoming, where we could start something new.” The Ca’ Marcanda Bolgheri Camarcanda 2009 (92 points, $165) is certainly less traditional for Italy—a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

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