Thursday 14 March 2013

A Luncheon With Gaia Gaja

No wine from this vintage was regrettably presented...
I was invited by Swedish importer VinUnic to a lunch with the charming Gaia Gaja, daughter of the (in)famous Angelo Gaja. I still remember buying the 1990 Barolo Sperss in 1994, astonished how good it was right out of the block. I drank my last bottle in 2004, asking myself, as always, why didn´t I save some for later...

On to the luncheon then - before seated the usual suspects chatted while sipping on a glass of Louis Roederer from a 6 liter bottle - I will say it again - Champagne taste better out of big bottles! Or is it a Freudian thing...? :-)

Gaia Gaja talked about the history of Gaja, her fathers work over the years, and her own since she joined the family firm in 2004. It was a joy listen to her tell the Gaja story and her commentary on the wines, in a witty and charming way.
Info about Gaja here.

The Wines:
2011 Rossj-Bass Chardonnay, Gaja
This starts out young and fresh with notes of white peach, summer flowers, bread crust and freshly washed clothes. A fine perfumed note. I don´t think it holds that well in the glass when it becomes warmer. A bit too perfumed then for my taste.
The taste is young, pure and broad with notes of white peach, summer flowers, expensive vanilla pods and some soapy notes. The acidity is fine but should have been a notch higher. Very good without being impressive.
87p   (tasted 2013/03)

2010 Ca´Marcanda Promis, Gaja
A pure, rather elegant nose with notes of menthol spiked blackberries, blueberry bushes, new leather and some dark plums. Good quality but if I was given this blind, should I have placed in Tuscany? Well, I don´t know, it feels a bit, in spite of the good quality, a bit anonymous.
The taste is young, tight and pure with fine notes of ripe blueberries, black currants and sweet almond paste. A medium long, balanced finish. Very good, but again, a bit internationalized. Would love to see how it matures. I´m not sure that blending Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese is a good thing?
86p   (tasted 2013/03)

2010 Ca´Marcanda Magari, Gaja
This is instead a blend of grapes that really go together - Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) and Cabernet Franc (25%), and the difference is obvious. The nose is deeper, tighter and more expressive with notes of sweet black currants, pencil shavings, smoke and cold coffee. With air a gorgeous animal note appears. This is really fine, albeit very young.
The taste is lovingly tight, focused and intense with lots of ripe black currants and black cherries with some notes of smoke, sandal wood, coffe beans and charcoal tossed in. The finish is long, pure and fine. This is great!
93p   (tasted 2013/03)

2008 Brunello di Montalcino Rennina, Gaja
Rennina comes from 3 different vineyards in Montalcino. A deep, elegant, fresh nose with notes of red cherries, smoke, hard cherry candy and a touch of hazelnuts. With air it becomes more floral. Very intense and fine. Has an ethereal feeling about it. Great!
The taste is tight, intense and young with notes of hard cherry candy, dried flowers, tobacco, violets and warm gravel. The finish is long and fresh. This is very, very fine, but young, needs at least 5-7 years in the cellar.
92p   (tasted 2013/03)

2008 Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille, Gaja
The Sugarille is a single vineyard. At first I thouht that the Rennina was the better wine but with air the Sugarille became deeper, tighter and more profound. The nose opens up with stunning notes of sweet red and black cherries, cigarr ashes, red autumn apples and moist earth. A very deep, honest nose.
The taste is big and juicy with just the right amount of vigour and backbone to be truly great. Fine notes of sweet and sour cherries, licorice, dark chocolate, violets and warm tiles. The finish is counted in minutes. The tannins are young and perky but lovingly polished. Great wine! Keep it out of the reach of a corkscrew for 6-8 years.
94p   (tasted 2013/03)

2010 Sito Moresco, Gaja
This is a blend of Nebbiolo (35%), Merlot (35%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), and while it is a good wine qualitywise, I think it has the same problem as the Provis above, the lack of character. Blending these grapes makes it somewhat anonymous. The nose is warm, open and rather deep with lots of sweet ripe black fruit with some notes of vanilla pods, forest floor, ginger bread and chocolate covered cherries. Very good but a tad bland.
The taste is tight, young and warm with notes of blueberries, black cherries, forest floor and some vanilla oak flavours. Good acidity. Again, good, but without, for lack of a better word, soul.
86p   (tasted 2013/03)

2008 Barolo Dagromis, Gaja
On the other hand - this has just that - when you put your nose in the glass it speaks of the gorgeous hills of Barolo. Lovely notes of rosehips, red cherries, a touch of balsamic vinegar, dried mushrooms and a high flowery scent. Really fine. Elegant and deep. Very young of course, but this is great at this early stage.
The taste is young, tight and fresh with large amounts of finely polished tannins with a cool cherry and lingonberry fruit with some notes of rosehip, rose petals, forest floor, dried mushrooms and bonfire tossed in. The finish is long and steady. This needs 5+ years before it will show everything it got.
93p   (tasted 2013/03)

2009 Barbaresco, Gaja
A cool, elegant and deep nose with notes of hard cherry candy, sweet rosehips, summer flowers, smoke and a lovely perfumed note. A bit withdrawn though. Very, very young.
The taste is cool, tight and focused with the fine cherry (and some rasberry) fruit locked in by an upfront acidity and perky tannins. I think this is in an awkward stage right now. There should be a fine wine in there, based on earlier vintages of the regular Barbaresco (and the 09 Sori Tildin below), but for now I will wait and see.
87p   (tasted 2013/03)

2004 Sperss, Gaja
Aaaaaah, what a wonderful light, ethereal, but at the same time deep and concentrated nose, with stunning aromas of menthol spiked cherries, rosehips, hard cherry candy, ceps and a mosit forest floor. Even though its far from mature, this has started to show some of what will come with maturity, and it is all good!
The taste is pure, elegant and stylish with notes of red and black cherries, dried rasberries, ceps, cigarr smoke and a lovely perfumed note. The finish is one minute long and the tannins show themselves at the end. What a great structure! Give this 4-6 years more in the cellar and it will become a marvel.
94p   (tasted 2013/03)

2009 Sori Tildin, Gaja
As soon as I put my nose in the glass I had to surrender. With some wines it is enough with one sniff, and you know it will be stunning. This is. The nose is bottomless deep with the sweetest red cherries imaginable paired with notes of licorice, rosehips en masse, crushed rose petals, ceps and a whiff of truffle salami. Deep, deep, deep. But oh so young.
The taste is all about purity, intensity and hedonism, in spite of its young age. There is huge amounts of sweet cherries and rasberries with additional notes of smoke, licorice, leather, ceps and dried flowers. The tannins is polished with the finest sandpaper. The finish seems to never end. In 10 years time this will be a perfect specimen, mark my words! :-)
97p   (tasted 2013/03)

1999 Sori Tilden, Gaja
I had hopes that this ten year older brother would be at just that stage mentioned above, but it was not quite there. A gorgeous wine with a really fine nose filled with cherry chutney, cigarr ashes, dried mushrooms and a touch of animal fur. A few steps up on the maturity ladder. A fin warmth to the fruit. Deep and fine.
The taste is tighter than the nose leads you to believe with perky tannins and a fine warm cherry fruit with notes of dried mushrooms, rosehips, bonfire and moist earth. A very long finish. This is drinking great, although I would guess it should be even better in 3-5 years time. Very, very long.
94p   (tasted 2013/03)

What a lineup! :-)
And upcoming saturday I will taste this Gaja wine, along with 13 other 1997 Brunello´s - report will follow!


  1. Hi;

    I am not sure.....but do you consider the cost factor when you score a wine ?

    1. Hi, no I not. I just score out of the quality of the wine, nothing else. Then the old saying - you get what you pay for - is usually applicable on wine as it is for example cars, shoes etc.