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Gaia Gaja: I Want To Play By The Rules

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In an interview with The Drinks Business in London, at the Armit offices in London where she launched the 2014 vintage of her three single vineyard Barbarescos, Gaja said of her decision to take the trio back under the Barbaresco DOP, “As much as I love my father’s great confidence and his instinct to do things differently and tread his own path, I don’t have the same nostalgia for the art of blending.”

“To move things forward I need to feel like my decisions are fully my own. I want to feel rooted in the system in Barbaresco and play by the rules, and I think it’s beautiful to show Nebbiolo on it’s own. In the past we used Barbera to soften the blend but I’m happy to sacrifice a bit of the suppleness and juiciness in order to gain more nuances and complexity.”

She added that,  “There aren’t any fights between my father and I because there is trust. If there wasn’t then there would be fights but we’re both working towards the same goal. There’s no revolution to be done – I’m just bringing a new energy to the company and am fine-tuning the details.”

Since the 1996 vintage, the wines – Costa Russi, Sorì Tildin and Sorì San Lorenzo – have used the ‘Langhe’ denomination due to Angelo Gaja’s use of 15% of Barbera in the blend. Gaia Gaja brought them back under the Barbaresco DOP from the 2013 vintage, meaning the three Barbarescos are now made from 100% Nebbiolo.

Gaja thinks Nebbiolo shares some key similarities with Pinot Noir. “They are very similar and very different. They’re both very delicate in both colour and perfume and don’t overpower what you eat. With both you don’t get density but you get intensity. Nebbiolo can be frustrating because sometimes you don’t catch the flavours when you first smell it, because they come out little by little,” she told db.

“Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo are like French and Italian cuisine – French is based on butter and French wines are creamy, while Italian cuisine is based on olive oil and our wines are more like palate cleansers – they clean the palate. I think Nebbiolo is more complex than Pinot Noir – it has more shades to it. It’s best to drink it when it’s either under five years old or over 10 years old as it tends to shut down for a few years during adolescence,” she added.

This May, db reported that Gaja has invested in 20 hectares of land in Etna, a region Angelo Gaja has wanted to get under the skin of for years.

“We’re picking the Cattarrato grapes at our new Etna vineyard at the moment and will start picking our Nerello Mascalese next week,” Gaia told db.

“We’ll have to wait and see about the quality. The wines won’t be branded as ‘Gaja’ as this is a partnership with Alberto Graci.

“We were interested in the project as there are similarities between Nebbiolo and Nerello Mascalese. If we’re happy with the wines then we’ll release them in 2019. I think the wines will have great potential for ageing,” she added.

Here is the link to the article on The Drinks Business:

Gaia Gaja: I want to play by the rules

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