Angelo Gaja is one of the great wine legends of Piedmont, Italy with an unwavering and passionate commitment to this majestic region. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend going once we can all travel again. Until then come take a journey with me there through the wines of Gaja with all his top single-vineyard Barbarescos and his Barolo Sperss from the 1990s. Gaja can be described as an individual in his thinking and someone who set the bar higher for himself than the rules of the DOCG. These wines are special because of Angelo Gaja’s commitment to quality and his own path in producing the best expression of Nebbiolo from Barbaresco. For him, from 1996-2011, he felt the wine expressed itself best with 5-15% of Barbera combined with Nebbiolo. He wanted to give the wines a rounder feel. Thus, he had to declassify his wine and call it Langhe Nebbiolo DOC during those years as it went against the rules of the DOCG for Barbaresco.
‘Sori San Lorenzo’ was the first single-vineyard bottling of Barbaresco Gaja made. Its first vintage was 1967. The vineyard, ‘Sori San Lorenzo’, was the favourite of Angelo’s father, Giovanni, as he believed it offered the best expression of Barbaresco. ‘Sori’ means the top of the hill that faces the sun and is considered the best site. The wines from the Sori San Lorenzo vineyard are tannic and concentrated, so they require a longer period of ageing than the other vineyards to be ready to enjoy.
The next single-vineyard bottling of Barbaresco to debut was ‘Sori Tildin’ with the 1970 vintage. Like ‘Sori San Lorenzo’, this vineyard is located in the town of Barbaresco and is considered one of the best sites for growing Nebbiolo. This wine takes its name in honour of Clotilde Rey, Angelo’s grandmother, whose nickname was ‘Tildin’.
And the final single-vineyard Barbaresco from Gaja is ‘Costa Russi’ with its first vintage in 1978. This wine takes its name from the word ‘costa’ meaning slope and ‘Russi’ which was the nickname of the sharecropper of this vineyard.
If you prefer Barolo, we will also have great examples from there too – 1990, 1993 and 1997 Gaja Barolo Sperss. This vineyard was the first one that Gaja purchased in Barolo. In 1961, the family made the decision to no longer produce Barolo from purchased fruit, so they went many years without making a Barolo until the purchase of the Sperss vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba in 1988. The first vintage of Sperss was in 1989, so the 1990 was the second vintage ever made of this wine and an outstanding one for Barolo. Sperss means “nostalgia” in the local dialect. It’s known for having a firm, tannic structure. To learn more about the wines of Gaja, especially the man, Angelo Gaja, click here for Linden’s description. I encourage you to come out in early April to experience these wines paired with a custom-tailored menu featuring primarily Mediterranean flavours and created by the culinary team of the Rosewood Hotel.
Wines to be served:
1997 Gaja Barbaresco
1998 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Costa Russi'
1995 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Costa Russi'
1998 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Sori Tildin'
1996 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Sori Tildin'
1985 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Sori Tildin'
1998 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Sori San Lorenzo'
1997 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Sori San Lorenzo'
1996 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo 'Sori San Lorenzo'
1997 Gaja Barolo Sperss
1993 Gaja Barolo Sperss
1990 Gaja Barolo Sperss