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Gaja, BarbarescoPiedmont, Italy 2015 (750mL)

The Daily Offer

Gaja, Barbaresco Piedmont, Italy 2015 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

On the one hand, this offer should be an easy one. It’s Gaja Barbaresco from a great vintage: What more needs to be said? On the other hand, there’s pressure to “do justice” to such an iconic wine. So much ink has been spilled over Angelo Gaja and his wines, so many perfect or near-perfect scores given, that even the most casual observer of the Italian wine scene has an inkling of how great (and sought-after) these wines are. 


What can I possibly add to the discussion at this point? This marks the first time in SommSelect’s existence that we’ve managed to acquire enough of any one Gaja wine to make an offer to our full subscribership. Granted, it’s not much—up to three bottles per person is all we can manage—but we’ll take it! This is the Italian equivalent of a First Growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy, and yes, that’s reflected in the price. There was a time when it was considered scandalous for Gaja to charge as much for his wines as the French elite charged for theirs, but those days are long gone (not to mention the fact that this wine will out-perform, and out-live, many Burgundies costing many multiples more). This is the pinnacle of “fine wine,” plain and simple.



The Gaja family’s winemaking history in Piedmont dates to 1859. When Angelo Gaja, now in his eighties, came aboard in 1961, working alongside his father, Giovanni, the estate had already produced some acclaimed bottlings. But Angelo truly took the company supersonic. He made a variety of changes, controversial at the time, to create riper, cleaner, less forbiddingly tannic expressions of Barbaresco’s Nebbiolo grape. For one, he pruned vines more severely to reduce yields and increase fruit concentration. For another, he began experimenting with aging wines in smaller, newer oak barrels, which helped to deepen the (usually light) color of the wines and lend them polish. This sleeker, more accessible style of Barbaresco wasn’t favorably received by many Piedmontese traditionalists, but it was embraced wholeheartedly by the broader wine community.


But I’m going to assume you knew all that already. All I will add is this: In the early 2000s, I had the good fortune to work in a restaurant with a deep collection of back-vintage Barolo and Barbaresco wines from all the old-time greats. I opened countless Nebbiolos from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and I don’t care if you’re the staunchest “traditionalist” of all time—Gaja always delivered. It’s not simply that the older Gaja wines were technically sound, and reliably so (something that couldn’t be said for most others back then), but that they were expressive, lively, evocative. There was plenty of soil/varietal character, and by the way, no one complains about DRC or Leroy Burgundies being aged in new oak barriques


Now, as the reins are being taken by Angelo Gaja’s children, especially his daughter, Gaia, and son, Giovanni, the family is reaching ever further afield for new winemaking projects (including Mount Etna, where they’re partnering up with the Graci family). But this wine, the “base” Barbaresco—with source material from more than a dozen single vineyards in the zone—is the lodestar. Master of Wine Greg Sherwood called the ’15 “…the most impressive new release Gaja Barbaresco expression tasted in over a decade,” and all I can say to that is: I wish I could taste new-release Gaja wine every year. Oh well. I’m very happy to get a crack at this sublime, glistening 2015: It’s a luminous garnet-red in the glass, with perfumed aromas of red cherry, black plums, wild berries, orange peel, sandalwood, rose petals, sweet spice, cacao, tar, and underbrush. It is full-bodied but harmonious and bright, with the kind of polished, fine-grained tannins few producers of Barbaresco (or Barolo) manage to coax from Nebbiolo. Being a ’15, it is fairly open right now (especially after 1-2 hours in a decanter), but will age another 10+ years with ease. When you pull the cork on this, it’s time to pull out the stops: This is “special occasion” wine of the highest order. Enjoy!




Gaja, Barbaresco Piedmont, Italy 2015 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont
  • Sub-RegionBarbaresco
  • SoilCalcareous Marl
  • BlendNebbiolo
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakNew & Used Barrels

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont
  • Sub-RegionBarbaresco
  • SoilCalcareous Marl
  • BlendNebbiolo
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakNew & Used Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2035+
  • Decanting1-2 Hours
  • PairingCrown Roast of Lamb w/ Rosemary & Oregano