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Posts tagged ‘Gaia Gaja’

Houston Press: Famed Italian Winemaker Gaja Here and Gone In A Day

Restaurateurs Brian Brossa (left) and Michael May (right) of Enoteca Rossa share a laugh with Gaia Gaja.

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

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 at the Wine Spectator 2012 New World Wine Experience

GAJA wines were among the stars at the Best of the Boot tasting at the Wine Spectator 2012 New World Wine Experience.

Gaia Gaja pours 89 Sperss by the glass in SF

Above: The dining room at Acquerello is one of the most elegant gastronomic destinations in the U.S. today.

On Wednesday night in San Francisco, at one of they city’s most thrilling dining destinations, the elegant Acquerello in Nob Hill, guests were treated to an unusual surprise.

Upon being seated, they were informed that Gaia Gaja was one of the sommeliers for the evening and that she would be pouring a flight of her family’s wines by the glass.

The flight:

Rossj-Bass 2011
Barbaresco 2008
DaGromis 2007
Darmagi 2000
Ca’ Marcanda Magari 2009
Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino Rennina 2007
Barolo Sperss 1989

“I’d seen this format in more casual restaurants,” said wine director Gianpaolo Paterlini, son of owner Giancarlo. “And I wasn’t sure how well it would work here since we only do prix fixe and tasting menus. But the guests loved it.”

Acquerello is widely considered one of the finest Italian restaurants in the U.S. and its list, “two thousand labels deep,” says Gianpaolo, focuses on Piedmont.

Indeed, the Darmagi 2000 and the Barolo Sperss 1989 came from Acquerello’s legendary cellar.

“We had a great night,” said Giancarlo, Gaia was “magnificent… elegant, engaging, humble, respectful, and she worked very hard the entire evening.”

“We were very happy with the event,” added Gianpaolo, “we have sixteen vintages of GAJA’s classic Barbaresco on our list, going back to 1964, and we have horizontals of 1988 and 1985. It was a thrill to have her in the restaurant.”