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Robb Report Includes Langhe Sperss 2011 Among its 5 Wines to Pair with Lamb

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.

Gaja 2011 Langhe Sperss

“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.


To read the entire article, click here.

Vinous: Antonio Galloni Gives Stellar Ratings for 2014 Barbaresco Wines

The Gaja family’s 2014 Barbarescos are more than worthy follow ups to the stellar 2013s. The 2014s also show a bit more stylistic cohesion throughout the range than was the case with the 2013s. Overall, the 2014s are defined by their energy, tension and brilliant personalities. As good as Gaja’s cru wines are, the straight Barbaresco – which is a blend of many top sites – is as good or nearly as good as those wines. It is also much more accessibly priced, even if none of these wines can be defined as inexpensive. Sadly, yields are down 35% across the board for the 2014s.

Barbaresco 2014:  96 Points 

Gaja’s 2014 Barbaresco is rich, super-dense, and inviting, with serious underpinnings of structure and the same classicism that made the 2013 so compelling. Dense and powerful in the glass, with explosive energy and tons of tannin, the 2014 is built for extended cellaring. Expressive floral and savory notes hover out of the glass in this super-expressive Barbaresco. This is one of the most tightly wound, intense versions of Gaja’sBarbaresco I can remember tasting. Don’t miss it.  Drink: 2024 – 2044

Barbaresco Costa Russi 2014: 96 Points 

Soft contours, silky tannins and sweet, perfumed fruit are some of the signatures in the 2014 Costa Russi. As always, Costa Russi is the most polished and open-knit of these wines in its youth. Succulent fruit, hard candy and lifted, perfumed aromatics give the 2014 considerable early appeal, but I expect time in bottle will work its usual magic. Today, the 2014 is showing only the barest hint of its potential. Even in the early going, though, the Costa Russi is a totally sexy wine. Drinking window: 2024 – 2044

Barbaresco Sori Tildin 2014: 97 Points 

Sweet rose petal, mint, chiseled red-toned fruit and chalk give the 2014 Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn its sculpted, brilliant personality. All the elements are in the right place. A wine of translucent energy and weightless elegance, the Sorì Tildìn is hauntingly beautiful today. A host of floral notes and red berry fruit infuse the persistent, chiseled finish in this fabulous Barbaresco. As it so often is, the Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn is a wine of pure charm and seduction. Drinking window: 2025 – 2044.

Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo 2014: 97+ Points

The 2014 Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo is the most virile and explosive of Gaja’s Barbarescos. Dark, brooding and powerful, with a huge spine of tannin, the San Lorenzo is utterly regal in the glass. Gravel, smoke, menthol, tar, licorice and a host of sepia-toned fruits build into a crescendo of aromas and flavors that is truly compelling. What a gorgeous wine this is. Drinking window: 2024-2054.


WS: Great Scores for Barbaresco Wines

Gaja’s Barbaresco wines have received great scores from the Wine Spectator in the November 15 issue, including a 95 rating for Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo 2014, 94 points for both Barbaresco Costa Russi 2014 and Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn 2014. Barbaresco 2014 received a score of 93 points. Gaja rating in WS – Nov 15, 2017 for a PDF of these ratings.

Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo 2014

Score: 95

Release Price $485

Country Italy

Region Piedmont

Issue Nov 15, 2017

Designation Collectibles

Tasting Note

Earthy notes lead off, followed by cherry, plum, graphite and tobacco flavors. Starts out broad and muscular, with a thick layer of tannins for support, yet gains elegance with aeration. A tad austere on the finish, but stays vibrant and long. Best from 2021 through 2036. B.S

Barbaresco Costa Russi 2014

Score: 94

Release Price $485

Country Italy

Region Piedmont

Issue Nov 15, 2017

Tasting Note

Tight and focused, this red features a beam of cherry, strawberry, leather, tobacco, tar and iron wrapped in the grip of dense, refined tannins. Fresh and balanced, showing plenty of energy on the resonant finish. Best from 2023 through 2040. –BS

Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn 2014

Score: 94

Release Price $485

Country Italy

Region Piedmont

Issue Nov 15, 2017

Tasting Note

Rich, juicy and chewy at once, this red evokes cherry, eucalyptus, tar and spice aromas and flavors. Taut yet intense, with energy that drives the long, savory finish. Not showy today, but the potential is there. Best from 2023 through 2040. –BS

Barbaresco 2014

Score: 93

Release Price $195

Country Italy

Region Piedmont

Issue Nov 15, 2017

Tasting Note

A lush style, boasting black cherry, plum, licorice, tar and spice flavors. Firmly structured and needs air to open, ending on a long, complex and balanced finish. Best from 2022 through 2035. –BS

Angelo & Gaia Gaja On Climate Change at 2016 Wine Experience

This video was taken last year at the Wine Spectator’s Wine Experience held in October 2016. It will be fascinating to hear the Gaja seminars at this year’s event in a few weeks.

Gaia Gaja: I Want To Play By The Rules

Barbaresco Area evidenziata 70x100

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:



Ognissanti (3)

According to an article published on September 29, 2017 in The Drinks Business by Lucy Shaw, Gaia Gaja believes that “Italy’s future lies in white wines.” Speaking to the drinks business at the Armit offices in London where she launched the 2014 vintage of her three single vineyard Barbarescos, Gaja said: “The future of Italy lies in white wines. Everyone thinks of us as a red wine making country but we’re surrounded by sea and have so much seafood in our cuisine and the quality of our white wines has improved so much, especially in the south in regions like Campania. “People don’t think about white wines when they think about Piemonte but our first Gaia & Rey Chardonnay vintage was in 1983.”

“The journalists don’t pay a lot of attention to it but it’s been one of the most successful wines we’ve ever made. I think there is incredible ageing potential in our region for whites.  When our Sauvignon Blanc ages you get notes of mushrooms, honey and petrol like an old Riesling. The wine is held up by its acidity.”

While Gaja recognizes climate change as “the biggest challenge” the wine world is facing, she feels it may lead producers all over the world to embrace Italian varieties. “We need to start reconsidering our parameters. In the past a lack of sugar has been a problem for grape growers but now it’s a lack of acidity. Things are changing rapidly and the majority of vintages are warm now when they were mainly cool in the past,” Gaja told db. “In Italy we have a few cards to play with climate change that we can use to our advantage – we’re surrounded by water and we have a lot of late ripening varieties, so I think more attention will be paid to these around the world now.

“Italian varieties will become more suitable for planting around the world, which will be a big boost for Italy. Grapes like Aglianico and Nero d’Avola are suited to warm climates,” she added.


Gaja Featured in Esquire’s ‘Big Black Book’

Novelist Jay McInerney offers a compelling look at this legendary figure and the iconic winery he has built.

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‘All Are Scintillating Wines’

Spectator's new Piedmont report highlights Gaja's 2013 Barbarescos, all made from 100% Nebbiolo.

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GAJA Lands Three Wines on Suckling’s Italian Best-of-Year List

Critic's Top 100 includes GAJA wines at #3, #40 and #43, with GAJA Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo 2013 leading the way.

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Vinous on GAJA: ‘The 2013 Barbarescos Are Fabulous’

"Gaja's Sorì San Lorenzo, arguably the most iconic of all the wines, is superb.... The 2013 Barbaresco Costa Russi is a real head-turner.... As always, the Sorì Tildìn is a wine of nuance and delineation above all else."

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