Wine Advocate’s Italy reviewer Monica Larner is in with general comments on the 2013 GAJA single-vineyard reds from Barbaresco, and individual reviews of each of the wines:
This exciting set of wines from the Gaja family represents a true stylistic departure and a not-so-subtle break with the past. I enjoyed a very interesting tasting with Gaia Gaja at her family’s Barbaresco property in May. As I tasted through the wines recorded below, I made a note to myself regarding what I perceived as a sharper tannic delineation in the wines and a more focused quality to the fruit. These wines are noticeably less fleshy, chewy or succulent compared to past vintages. They are tonic, crisp, angular and fiercely determined in a uniquely distinct manner. Angelo Gaja joined us at the conclusion of my tasting to exchange greetings. I asked if there was any new news to relay to my readers. The father and daughter team exchanged furtive glances and announced sheepishly: “Yes, there is something…” Have I piqued your interest? Look no further than the appellation field: The Langhe Nebbiolo DOC designation on the Costa Russi, Sorì Tildìn and Sorì San Lorenzo wines has been replaced by Barbaresco DOCG. These celebrated wines (that in the past saw the addition of 5% Barbera) are now 100% expression of Nebbiolo. “This change is something we’ve been discussing as a family for a long time,” says a smiling Gaia Gaja. This is indeed a new chapter for Gaja.
2013 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo
Congratulations to the Gaja family and their 2013 Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo. This is a sheer and powerful expression of Nebbiolo that boasts a very firm and precise textural quality. The wine is 100% Nebbiolo, as blended Barbera is no longer part of the Sorì San Lorenzo DNA. The tannins are sharply delineated with a crunchy snap that you feel on the palate. This should definitely serve to keep the wine firmly rooted and committed to a slow aging trajectory. That structural firmness is the defining characteristic of this wine, and that unique identity is even more evident now that this wine is officially classified as Barbaresco.
2013 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn
The 2013 Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn sees fruit sourced from a vineyard site located directly above Costa Russi. This fruit is harvested at 260 meters above sea level, while the latter is located 30 meters lower in elevation. The age of the vines is slightly younger as well, with 45-years-old being the average age. That subtle change in vineyard location does much to shape the generosity and bounty of the bouquet. There is a distinct softness and roundness here that comes forth as dark cherry, pressed blackberry and plum, with tobacco and leather in a supporting role. This Barbaresco stands on solid feet with tight textural richness that comes exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape. Breaking with past tradition, Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn is made with a single variety.
2013 Gaja Barbaresco Costa Russi
The 2013 Barbaresco Costa Russi is a celebration of vineyard site. In the past, this wine was blended with 5% Barbera, but this is no longer the case starting now. For the first time in recent memory, we are tasting a pure expression of Nebbiolo as harvested from the rows of vines in the Costa Russi cru, located directly below Sorì Tildìn at the base of the Barbaresco village. The vines are over 65-years-old and are planted in limestone clay and marl soils. Costa Russi is known for delicate, light-bodied wines that exhibit floral aromas of rose hip and lavender, as well as darker fruit tones at the back. Those qualities are beautifully evident in this vintage. The mouthfeel is characterized by a firm sense of tannic structure that is common to all of Gaja’s new releases in the 2013 vintage.
These reviews appear in Issue 225 (June 2016) of the subscription-based Wine Advocate.