Even one of Italy’s most famous wine families can never be certain that they know the best way to do everything. In fact, Gaia Gaja says, doubt plays a key role in her family’s philosophy. She explains why at the 2017 New York Wine Experience.
Gaia Gaja of wine producer Gaja discusses viticulture philosophy and her role in the five-generation-old family business in this video.
“Densely woven with flavors of cherry, plum, earth and spice, this red starts out very tightly wrapped, relaxing and gaining richness with air. A touch dry on the finish, but overall balanced. Decant at least 3 hours now, or better yet, age another 5 years. Best from 2022 through 2038. 200 cases imported. ” – BS
“Textbook rose, tar and cherry aromas and flavors, with accents of oak, spice, licorice and tobaccom are the hallmarks of this complex red. Powerful yet harmonious, showing fine structure and a lingering finish. Best from 2022 through 2040. 375 cases imported.” – BS
2014 Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo – 97 Points
“The 2014 Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo is certainly one of more structured, masculine 2014s. From more limestone soils and a slightly cooler, south facing hillside, it offers a deeper ruby color to go with beautiful notes of black cherries, currants, wood smoke, white flowers, and an undeniable minerality. Like all the 2014s, it’s incredibly elegant on the palate, with a Burgundian-like texture, fine tannin, and terrific length. As with the Sori Tildin, it unwinds with time in the glass, yet needs 4-5 years of bottle age and is going to cruise in the cellar for 20-25+ years,” – JD
2014 Barbaresco – 95 Points
The 2014 Barbaresco is beautiful and made in a fine elegant style. Its medium ruby color is followed by classic (yet incredibly pure) notes of ripe black cherries and currants, with ample floral nuances, and it hits the palate with medium-bodied depth and richness that carries serious amounts of ripe, polished tannins. With nicely integrated acidity, beautiful purity of fruit, and a big finish, it blossoms with time in the glass yet still needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will keep for 25-30 years,” – JD
2013 Barolo Sperss – 97 Points
“The gem of the 2013s is the 2013 Barolo Sperss which comes from limestone-dominated soils. The 2013 is deep, concentrated, and structured, with a fabulous sense of minerality in its black cherry, leafy herbs, damp earth, and licorice aromas and flavors. From a late, cool vintage, it has awesome purity of fruit, plenty of tannins and a huge finish. It’s a brillant wine any way you look at it. I’d happily drink this elixir today but it deserves at least 3-4 years and will keep for 25+,” – JD
2013 Barolo Conteisa – 95 Points
“The 2013 Barolo Conteisa (which is the first year it’s been classified as a Barolo) is another beautiful, elegant 2013 that has loads of charm. Black cherries, framboise, tobacco, and smoked earth characteristics all emerge from this medium to full-bodied, silky effort that has ripe – even sweet – tannin, no hard edges, and beautiful purity of fruit. It’s far from inaccessible but will be better in 2-3 years and keep for two decades,” – JD
2013 Darmagi – 92 Points
“The 2013 Darmagi is almost all Cabernet Sauvignon (there’s 3% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc) and comes from a small 2.8-hectare vineyard. Aged 6-8 months in barrel before being moved to a larger oak cask for a year, it offers a Bordeaux-like character in its ripe dark fruits, tobacco, and damp earth aromas and flavors. Possessing medium-bodied richness, nicely integrated acidity, and an elegant, seamless style on the palate, it’s a beautiful wine to drink over the coming 10-15 years. It’s the most mid-weight of the four vintages reviewed for this report, yet it’s impeccably balanced and a classy wine,” – JD
2012 Darmagi – 94 Points
“The 2012 Darmagi is a ripper, more voluptuous and sexy wine compared to the 2013. Made from 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc brought up in barrels and larger oak casks, its deep ruby/purple-tinged color is followed by loads of classic Cabernet dark fruits, damp earth, graphite and obvious minerality. With sweet,polished tannin and plenty of fruit, its a pleasure bent, yet elegant beauty that will keep for 15-20 years,” – JD
2011 Darmagi – 94 Points
“From a warmer vintage, the 2011 Darmagi saw a slightly different elevage, spending two years in 20% new oak barrels. It’s a more evolved, upfront, perfumed wine and boasts lots of red and black currant fruits, smoked herbs and dried earth aromas and flavors. Already drinking nicely, with chewy tannin, it lacks the elegance and purity found in the 2010 but makes up for it with sheer exuberance and character. Drink it over the coming 10-15 years,” – JD
2010 Darmagi – 95+ Points
“The gem of the lineup is the 2010 Darmagi which is the most pure, seamless, and elegant of the vintages reviewed in this report, all while not losing a beat with regards to depth and concentration. Blackcurrants, tobacco leaf, chocolate, and a touch of rocky minerality all flow to a medium to full-bodied, elegant, yet concentrated beauty that does everything right. With good acidity, fine, polished tannin, perfect balance and a great finish, this spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon will benefit from another 2-3 years of bottle age and will keep for 15+ years,” – JD
1982 Barbaresco 95 Points
“While working on this report, I had lunch with Gaia Gaja while she was visiting Denver, Colorado, and she brought a bottle of 1982 Barbaresco. Showing how beautifully these wines age, this gorgeous Barbaresco was still ruby to the rim and offers a classic, mature bouquet of dried cherries, leafy herbs, tobacco and spice. Medium-bodied, seamless, and elegant, yet still packed with sweet fruit, it’s a glorious Barbaresco drinking at point. It should have no issues keeping for another decade, but there’s no need to delay gratification,” JD
Some wines are good, some are bad, and some are significant. Here are 40 that made a difference.
What was the first wine? There’s no way to know, though the oldest evidence of winemaking dates back 8,000 years, to Stone Age villages in the mountains south of Tbilisi, Georgia. But whoever made that first wine, man or woman, priest or peasant, we owe them a big debt. Some wines are good, some are bad, and some—a very few, like that first one—are significant. Maybe they shatter preconceptions about the potential of a grape or region; maybe they shock us with a new flavor or set of tastes; maybe they even leave us taken aback by the fact that they’re packaged in cans. Here are 40 that made a difference.
1. Ruinart Rosé Champagne (1764)
Think rosé is a new trend? Ruinart, the first Champagne house (founded in 1729, the year after France’s King Louis XV first allowed wine to be sold in bottles), was also first off the bat with pink fizz. Referred to at the time as oeil de perdrix—eye of the partridge, a reference to its hue—it probably tasted very different from the dry, crisp NV Ruinart Brut Rosé ($89) sold now; almost all Champagnes were sweet until about 1850. Even so, it could be said to have launched one of the world’s most drawn-out trends.
2. Schloss Johannisburg Spätlese (1775)
If you think all Riesling is sweet, thank Germany’s Schloss Johannisberg estate for that. Or at least the Prince-Abbot of Fulda, whose courier arrived several weeks late in 1775 with permission to start harvesting. Once those hyper-ripe grapes were picked, sweet Riesling was born—a fine example being the peachy 2015 Schloss Johannisberg Grünlack Riesling Spätlese ($55).
3. Veuve Clicquot Champagne (1810)
Without the widow, or veuve, Clicquot, Champagne might still be sold with a sediment of leftover yeast in the bottle. Riddling, the crucial process Barbe-Nicole Clicquot helped develop in the early 1800s, removes that yeast efficiently. The result? Mass production of a luxury wine, such as Clicquot’s ubiquitous, toasty NV Yellow Label Brut ($49).
4. Ricasoli Chianti Classico (1872)
Wine has been made in the Chianti region for centuries, but until 1872 no one had ever codified exactly what Chianti’s wines ought to be. After years of research, the Baron Ricasoli developed the first formal “recipe” for this classic wine: Sangiovese for its aroma and “a certain vigor in taste,” Canaiolo to soften it, and white Malvasia to make the wine “lighter and more readily suitable for daily consumption.” As of 2006, white grapes are no longer allowed in the Chianti blend, but even so, the forest-scented 2013 Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione ($65) would surely please the Baron.
5. Louis Roederer Cristal (1876)
Without the Russian Czar Alexander II, the first prestige Champagne might never have been made. His demands to the Roederer family were simple: top quality (of course), sweet (still the popular style at the time), gold label (duh), and a clear crystal bottle—hence Cristal—to make sure no bombs were hidden inside. (The czar’s fears were well-founded: Dynamite, though not in a Champagne bottle, got him in the end.) The current 2009 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut ($249) is suave, complex, not at all sweet—and, of course, entirely bomb-free.
6. Inglenook Claret (1889)
Long before the famed Judgment of Paris in 1976, a California wine stunned doubters and garnered international attention by taking a gold medal at the 1889 Paris world’s fair. Later years saw Inglenook’s reputation fall, rise, and fall again, but under current owner Francis Ford Coppola, quality has rocketed up, and wines like the cassis-rich, luscious 2014 Rubicon ($210) deserve their storied name.
7. Penfolds Grange (1951)
When Penfolds winemaker Max Schubert created Australia’s most famous wine, Grange, a Shiraz-based red meant to age for decades like the great wines of Europe, it was at first utterly rejected by Penfolds’ management. (Schubert actually had to hide the 1957–59 vintages to keep them from being destroyed.) No doubt he would have been stunned that in 2017 a single bottle of that initial ’51 vintage sold for almost 52,000 Australian dollars ($41,100). Bargain hunters, however, can pick up another great vintage, the intense 2013 Penfolds Grange, for a mere (ahem) $850.
8. Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (1966)
The first vintage of the definitive wine from the first winery established in Napa Valley after Prohibition, made by the man who did more to promote the quality of California wine than any other person before or since. Enough said. The current 2015 Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($34) is ripe and polished, full of black currant fruit, and, appropriately, deeply Napa Valley Cabernet-
9. Ridge Geyserville (1966)
Ridge’s Geyserville was one of the first domestic wines to draw attention to the idea of “old vines” and to what a single mature vineyard (dating back to the 1880s) of mixed black grape varieties can produce. Labeled as Zinfandel in its early days, it’s actually a blend of Zin, Carignane, Petite Sirah, and Mourvèdre. Look for the boysenberry-scented 2015 ($40) for a taste of California viticultural history.
The message was clear: In the hands of an unparalleled winemaker like Angelo Gaja, Barbaresco’s greatest vineyards could be as fully distinctive and terroir-expressive as those of Burgundy. The original 1967 vintage of this wine was his first single-vineyard Barbaresco and one of the first in the region; the current 2013 Gaja Sorì San Lorenzo ($475) is thrillingly aromatic, powerfully structured, and still revelatory, 51 years later. .
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Andrew Jefford joins Gaia Gaja plus dog on a tour of the company’s vineyards – and discovers the Gaja way of thinking en route.
Gaia Gaja in the vineyards. Credit: Andrew Jefford
Back in mid-June, on a typically warm and humid Langhe morning, I visited the key Gaja vineyards in Barolo and Barbaresco with Gaia Gaja – and Bris, her small, inquisitive lap dog. Gaja vineyard practices have changed radically over the last decade, but Gaia’s insights also helped me understand the challenges presented by a change of generation – in this case, as two daughters (Gaia and her younger sister Rossana) and their younger brother Giovanni slowly take over from their dauntingly successful and innovative father. Giovanni is working in New York at present, while Gaia describes herself as “the ministry of external affairs” and her sister as “the ministry of internal affairs”.
Around 1997, Gaia says, the family realised that global warming meant that “we had to change something in the vineyard.” The traditional Langhe quest for ripeness was no longer an imperative: it was coming more easily, even (on occasion) to the point of jamminess. “Weird things were happening in the vineyards. Suddenly we realised we had to protect the acidity and the drinkability, which meant reconsidering all our way of working.”
High inter-row plantings in Gaja vineyards. Credit: Andrew Jefford
There were three main challenges: the first was to moderate plant vigour, the second to prevent erosion, and the third to work on improving the organic matter in the soil. In quest of these goals, Gaia wanted the company to switch to biodynamic cultivation. She suggested this to her father. “He thought about it. He said ‘No. That’s not the way to go.’ I was disappointed; he crushed my dream. ‘You have to do something different,’ he said, ‘something that is yours. If we do biodynamics, we do what everyone else is doing.’”
This approach, it emerged in talking to Gaia, is fundamental to her father’s life’s work — and chimes with the Piemontese way of thinking. “Like most of the people in Piemonte, we’re not naturally people who open the door and sit around a bit table and discuss. We’re all quite closed. We do things in our own way.”
Angelo Gaja, it would seem, almost obsessively so. “I have been working with my father for 12 years now. He has always been very proud and protected the dream of being different. That’s the one thing he is telling me every day: ‘Be different’. I admire this instinctive attitude of believing in yourself and doing things in your own way, but I don’t know if I’ll ever learn it.”
Self-belief, though, doesn’t go with complacency. “He’s never dogmatic. He says you always have to keep 30 per cent of doubt. If you think you’re right, there’s no room for improvement. My father is always looking for the bad side of a good thing; he’s always keeping doubt. This is his way of being.”
After the impasse over biodynamics, Gaia suggested to her father that they should work with consultants. “The reaction of my father was – No. He didn’t like consultants. He said they were strangers who come to your house bringing knowledge, but they also take it away, they spread it.” Father and daughter had “a long conversation. Eventually he said, ok, we can work with consultants, but they must be consultants who don’t work for other wineries. Actually that became the beginning of a very fun new period for us, because we started working with consultants who were experts in other forms of life.”
Insect hotels in the Gaja vineyards, to encourage biodiversity. Credit: Andrew Jefford.
Most of the vineyard changes have come out of these seven collaborations. Biodiversity was the first priority, especially the creation of distinctive composts based on cow manure and Californian worms. Then came the use of high grass in the inter-rows, and of different cereal crops to control the vigour of the various parcels; of minimum vine trimming during summer; of the planting of cypresses to act, when fully grown, as ‘hotels for birds’; and the use of fungi and plant extracts as treatments in place of synthetic chemicals. The company has also adopted a new approach to plant selection based on the notion of using not the strongest plants, but those which can best recover unaided from disease outbreaks.
Gaia Gaja’s conversations with her father also, it turns out, take a singular form. “We communicate by writing. One day I should publish the letters between my father and myself. The problem is that he is very impatient. If I go into his office and I can’t tell him what I have to tell him in three minutes, his legs start shaking up and down and he is thinking about something else. So I write him long letters which I circulate to my mother and sister. He then reads it and he writes all over it with underlinings and exclamation marks and we discuss it all at a meeting three days later.” They also have a family chat room (with “no specific rules”) and write each other lots of little notes.
The new generation, though, is beginning to steer the ship in its own way – and perhaps the most prominent sign of this so far is the return of the Barbaresco wines, crus included, to the Barbaresco DOP. According to Gaia, her father’s decision (back in 1996) to market the wines under the Langhe name alone was another example of his drive to be different – and his celebration of doubt. He began to question, at that point, that the greatest site expression was possible with Nebbiolo alone. Would it not come, rather, with a blend of varieties? Such, after all, were the most ancient regional traditions (some might see a kinship here with Jean-Michel Deiss’s theories about terroir expression in Alsace).
“When we bought Cerequio in Barolo,” Gaia pointed out, “where the hill dipped suddenly and there was more water, it was planted with Barbera, and up on the highest part where it was more windy, there was Dolcetto. It was my father’s idea that we should consider bringing back these minor varieties into the blends. He talked to the Consorzio but they didn’t agree.” He carried on regardless – allowing, of course, that even this course might be wrong (only Barbera, in fact, was used in the blends). The fact that the Barbaresco wines are once again back in the DOP means that doubt has redoubled back on itself.
In the winery, too, evolution continues. Delicacy of grape handling is the watchword; there is now a longer period on lees and less racking; milder oak toasts are used than formerly. These are not oaky wines: just 20 per cent new oak for Barbaresco, and between 30 and 35 per cent for the single vineyards, with two years’ ageing of which the second is in bottle.
As I was tasting the 2013 and 2014 Barbaresco wines, Angelo marched in: a sprightly 77 years old, bright-eyed, faintly combative, and still involved in new projects (“Etna,” said Gaia, “was my father’s idea, his optimism”, referring to news in April 2017 of a Gaja joint venture with Alberto Graci). “I believe,” Angelo stated, “that we are reaching new knowledge in trying to improve the quality of the vineyard and the grapes. But did she explain,” he immediately added, “that we are sure of nothing?”
A genuine summary of the zone, in that Gaja’s 100 ha of Langhe vineyards include at least 10 different sites scattered around the Barbaresco DOP; the 2013 vintage is a fine one, perfect for revealing Barbaresco’s intricacy and grain. Scents of sweet, floating gentleness; ample poised, ripe classicism on the palate, with flavours of milky grace. 93 points
Barbaresco Costa Russi 2013
“Russi’s slope” (Russi was a former owner) lies in the lower part of Roncagliette, a leading cru to the southeast of the Barbaresco zone, with a south-southwestern exposure. All of Gaja’s individual vineyard wines have unique fantasy names: another sign of the determination to be different. The scents of Costa Russi ‘13 have a meatiness which was not apparent in the Barbaresco, while the flavours are firmer and grippier, with a gratifying bramble note to the fruit spectrum. 94
Barbaresco Sorì Tildin 2013
Sorì Tildin (the name is an allusion to Angelo Gaja’s energetic grandmother Clotilde Rey, a formative influence) lies higher up in Roncagliette, with an open exposition. The wine is still youthful, with an intoxicating swirl of plum, sloe and elder fruits. Vibrant and energetic, growing firm on the finish; ripe, glowing acidity within a shapely, enticing frame. A wine of finely judged ripeness and concealed power. 96
Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo 2013
This vineyard (named after the patron saint of Alba’s cathedral) lies below the village on Barbaresco, within the cru of Secondine; it was also called San Donato or Codovilla in the past. This wine may be at a quiet stage of its evolution, as it seems more restrained and less aromatically expressive than Sorì Tildin 2013 for now. On the palate, it’s evidently fine with masterful concentration and vitality, glowing fruit, assured balance and sumptuously palpable tannins. 95
The Gaja family, like many in Barbaresco, are thrilled with what they have been able to craft in 2014, the principal reason being that Barbaresco had near-normal levels of rainfall (750mm) whereas Barolo took 1,200mm on the chin. The late season, September to November, was outstanding. This wine is a little more aromatically dry in style than the 2013, with bright red-fruit flavours of cranberry, pomegranate and red dessert apple. It’s harmonious, balanced and long. 91
Barbaresco Costa Russi 2014
The Costa Russi has more raspberry fruit notes and floral touches, too, in comparison with the Barbaresco. Warm, tangy, bright, edgy: a cascade of scent, a splash of flavour. After this vivacious mid-palate, the wine fills satisfyingly towards the finish. 92
Barbaresco Sorì Tildin 2014
This is a much more aromatically wealthy wine than its two peers above, with incense, spice and mint in addition to complex red fruits. The palate combines juiciness with elegance; there’s some floral complexity behind the fruit; while the finish reveals a glowing enchantment I didn’t expect from 2014. 94
Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo 2014
Refined scents, with the wood playing a slightly more prominent role here than in the other wines, but with plenty of fruited aromatic upholstery to support it. On the palate, this is the only wine of the quartet where the red fruits begin to shade into black in this vintage – though they retain a chic briskness, with ample energy and lift. Spice, incense and refined, chiselled, palpable tannins complete the picture. 95
Restaurateurs Brian Brossa (left) and Michael May (right) of Enoteca Rossa share a laugh with Gaia Gaja Photo by Kate McLean
“We’re going.” Brian said as he flicked the promotion card at me excitedly while I polished stemware. “I need to check my schedule, but…” I inspected the flyer more closely, “…oh, we’re going.”
Gaia Gaja, eldest daughter of legendary Italian winemaker Angelo Gaja, was in Houston Tuesday and kept a tight schedule. Hosted by the Terlato Wine Group, she did a training in the morning, a sommelier lunch at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, an afternoon wine tasting at Da Marco Cucina E Vino, and a wine dinner at Potente. For Italian wine lovers, attending either of these events is the equivalent of front row seats to Beyoncé.
It’s nothing new that Houston lures reputable winemakers from around the world. We’re an attractive, thriving market of wine drinkers after all. Industry people who are sometimes too busy to break away from work certainly find a reason when iconic wine houses like Gaja come to town. Her stay in the United States, a brief one, includes stops in Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Florida.
The vineyards of Gaja are located in the Piedmont and Tuscany regions of Italy; the land of Barolo, Barbaresco, and super Tuscans. Gaja bottles have a simple lable; because all they really need to sell their wine are those four letters linked with over 150 years of practice and good decision making.
Angelo Gaja, who began working the family business in 1961 modernized their technique in addition to adding new grape varietals into the fold. While Gaja was always good, once Angelo got his hands on the vines they became great. In reference to side-stepping a deal with Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi, this legend is reputed to have compared it to, “a mosquito having sex with an elephant: very dangerous and not much pleasure.”
Wine representatives, sommeliers, restaurant owners and chefs milled about, interacting with Gaia Gaja herself while tasting a generous selection of vintages. If you’re interested in tasting Gaja she recommends these:
Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany region): 2001, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2013, and she’s excited about 2016.
Piedmont region: 1999, 2001, 2013, and 2014.
Around the time we tasted the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino (5 minutes in) we all got a little giddy. It’s common at daytime wine tastings to spit, but when you’re sipping Gaja on a beautiful afternoon in Houston, TX, you don’t spit gold.
She likes visiting Houston though. “The people in Texas are very welcoming and I always have a lot of fun when I come here, that’s the real reason.” Behind New York, Texas imports the most Gaja in the United States. Go team. Click here for this article.
– Kate McLean
“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
By Dan Dunn
When it comes to communal celebratory meals, lamb is fitting for these festive final weeks of the nothing-if-not-extraordinarily interesting year that was 2017. There are many different ways to prepare lamb — from grilling to braising to roasting — but no matter how it’s cooked, that rich, savory meat demands robust red wine at its side, most often Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Cabernet Sauvignon. We asked five of America’s most sagacious sommeliers to name their ideal sheep sidekicks.
“A good friend of mine taught me many years ago to love something for what it is, not what you want it to be,” says Chris Struck. It’s a lesson he revisits often on the job as a sommelier at Union Square Café in New York City. “You can’t ask or expect a wine producer who unapologetically makes a modern style to make a traditional style, nor can you compare the two in the same category. They’re like apples and oranges.” For an ideal wine to pair with a rack of lamb, Struck suggests the former (modern, not apples). Gaja is a legendary Piedmontese producer that has been making big, bold and brooding Nebbiolos like this Gaja Langhe Sperss 2011 ($250) in Italy’s Langhe region for 150 years.
“Nebbiolo offers an ideal tannic structure for red meat prepared on the rarer side,” says Struck. “With this particular wine, the myriad aromas—roses, leather, cherry, mushroom, and anise— are fun to play around with against the gaminess, herb, and mustard components often employed in the preparation of lamb dishes.” You’ll want to double decant this wine hours in advance. One could argue this wine needs time—and it does—so buy a case instead of a bottle.
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