...has the superb density of material to buffer its powerful acids and tannins. This very backward wine already shows a harmony of components and grip of steel. The finish features palate-drenching tannins and great lively length.
A very ripe red, almost raisiny and curranty. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and lots of tar and ripe fruit character. Getting better, but still a bit austere. Needs time.--1996 Piedmont retrospective. Best after 2009.
Angelo Gaja’s wines are among the most distinctive in Italy, and as a businessman and winemaker, family patriarch Angelo Gaja has always been ahead of trends. A fourth-generation wine producer based in Piedmont, Gaja began advocating modern methods to improve the quality of Italian wines more than three decades ago, a time when most Italian producers were determined to simply make as much wine as possible, regardless of its quality. Like Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley, Gaja wanted his wines to be in the same league as the best wines of France. And after his careful attention to quality beginning in the 1970s, his single vineyard Barbarescos earned international attention. By dropping appellations from his labels, he was also able to create blends, which are essentially Barbarescos or Barolos with very small amounts of Barbera added. Gaja’s most famous wines are his single vineyard Barbarescos. The winery has 250 acres in vineyards.
Piedmont’s name means “foot of the mountain” and it aptly describes Piedmont’s location near the Alps, just east of France and south of Switzerland. For admirers of Nebbiolo wines, Piedmont is Italy’s most exalted region, since it is home to Barolo and Barbaresco. Barolo and Barbaresco are names of towns as well as names of the two most prestigious Piedmont DOCGs. Piedmont, with 142,000 vineyard acres, has seven DOCGs and fifty DOCs, the highest number of DOCS in any Italian wine zone. Despite its relatively northern location, its sometimes cool and frequently foggy weather, Piedmont produces mostly red wines. The Nebbiolo grape thrives in this climate and in fact takes its name from the Italian word for fog, “nebbia.” With its rich buttery food, majestic red wines and complicated vineyard system, Piedmont is often thought of as the Burgundy of Italy. As in Burgundy, Piedmont vineyards generally have well-established boundaries, and the vineyards are often divided into smaller parcels owned by several families. Though Nebbiolo is considered the most “noble” Piedmont grape, Barbera is actually the most widely planted grape. Dolcetto is the third most common red grape. White wines in Piedmont are made from Arneis, Cortese, Erbaluce and Moscato. Though Barolo and Barbaresco are the stars of the region, the easy-to-drink, sparkling “spumante” and “frizzante” wines of the Asti DOCG are the most widely produced. There are also Piedmont Indicazione Geographica Tipica (IGT) wines that are often an innovative blend of traditional and non-traditional grapes. This relatively new appellation status was started in 1992 as an attempt to give an official classification to Italy’s newer blends that do fit the strict requirements of DOC and DOCG classifications. IGT wines may use the name of the region and varietal on their label or in their name.
This red grape is most often associated with Piedmont, where it becomes DOCG Barolo and Barbaresco, among others. Its name comes from Italian for “fog,” which descends over the region at harvest. The fruit also gains a foggy white veil when mature.