Wine Spectator Insider: 2014 Gaja Barbarescos

Angelo Gaia 3_slider

“When you talk about the character of a wine, you are talking about the character of the vintage,” said Gaia. “In the easy vintages, the grapes keep memories of the easy child­ hood they had, and the wines are easy and friendly. In 2014, the wines are not like that.” They had a tough childhood, and that gave them tension and complexity on top of the depth that comes from the Nebbiolo grape.

“Nebbiolo is not an open book. You have to investigate it,” she said. Sanderson de­scribed the Gaja Barbaresco 2014, a blend of 14 different parcels, as firmly structured, needing time to open, with a complex finish.

Angelo’s father, Giovanni, was a vintner, a surveyor and mayor of the town of Barbaresco. These roles helped him find some of the best vineyards, including Costa Russi, at the bottom of one slope, and Sorì Tildin, at the top of the same. While tasting the Gaja Barbaresco Costa Russi 2014 and Sorì Tildin 2014, Gaia explained that the lower slope receives less sun­ shine and yields a more floral, elegant wine. Sorì Tildin, ex­posed to more constant sun offers riper fruit flavors.

The Gaja Sorì San Lorenzo 2014, from another prime Bar­baresco vineyard, is known for structure over fruit or floral el­ements, Gaia said. As Sander­son noted, this is a Nebbiolo to age, with muscular tannins and earthy notes.

Now it’s my turn. For the people in the back, I’m the older one,” joked Angelo, now semi-retired . He spoke of a les­son his grandmother Clotilde Rey, who helped manage the winery for years, taught him as a young boy. She explained that in order to be a true arti­san, he needed to do, to know how, to teach how, and to transmit knowledge.

To do means to devote your­self to a craft, then learn to truly understand it, Angelo ex­plained. Next you must teach the next generation, and fi­nally, transmit your knowledge to the world. Gaja has done all those things.

But even as he has handed control to his daughters, Gaia and Rossana (now the wine­ maker), and his son Giovanni, he has new projects . In April, he announced that he has in­vested on Sicily’s Mt. Etna, forming a joint venture with local producer Alberto Graci to grow Carricante and Ner­ello Mascalese and eventually build a winery.

Artisans never stop creat­ing. “My father,” said Gaia, “is always looking to the future.”

– Mitch Frank


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