Gaja helped to drag Piedmont into the modern era. Having skirted controversy with their single vineyard Barbarescos, a generational change looks set to bring them back into the fold. Robin Lee delves deeper...
Scroll down for Robin’s tasting notes & scores
Back into the fold
The 2013 vintage of Costa Russi, Sorì Tildin and Sorì San Lorenzo crus heralds the news that Gaia Gaja is now in charge of the eponymous family estate. Her first meaningful step is to bring these celebrated wines back into the Barbaresco appellation (Barbaresco DOP – equivalent to DOCG under new EU rules).
Introduced to the world by her father, the visionary Angelo Gaja, in 1978, 1970 and 1967 respectively, Gaja single vineyard Barbaresco sits amongst the first and the finest of Piedmontese, and indeed Italian, single vineyard wines.
There are some noticeable differences between the three crus:
Costa Russi is perfumed, forthcoming and delicious, accessible now.
Sorì Tildin combines more structure with polished, glossy fruit and requires a few years before broaching.
Sorì San Lorenzo is typified by mighty tannins and monumental architecture; this is the most long-lived of the three and the 2013 shouldn’t be opened before 2024.
Gaja has worked together with her father for the past 12 years. Now she has taken the decision that these wines should be 100% Nebbiolo, instead of a blend with 5% Barbera, as they have been since 1996 when Angelo Gaja chose to defy the Barbaresco appellation rules.
“My father does not oppose my decision, he believes each generation has to act according to how it feels”.
– Gaia Gaja
Gaja single vineyard Barbaresco 2013 reviews:
Under the ethereal nose is an imposing structure supported by mighty, yet elegant tannins. Beguiling aromas of oolong tea, spiced…
Supremely elegant and poised, with a combed-back sleekness and grace...
A glorious Nebbiolo nose of cascading damask roses straight from the garden after a heavy rain...
The 2013 vintage
2013 was a cool, almost austere vintage in Piedmont. Following a late flowering, the harvest extended late into October.
Unlike in the past, however, ripening the grapes is not a challenge; today a great vintage can be formed from a slow and late ripening process, which preserves natural acidity and complex aromas.
The switch back to 100% Nebbiolo is only a nuance, but the result, as demonstrated by these exceptional wines, is a clearer, finer expression of terroir. The quality of these wines shows that the new generation at Gaja will continue to be the guiding light for the region.