Angelo Gaja: The Wines from his 'other' Estates

The wines of Barbaresco’s infamous Angelo Gaja are delicious and often profound, the prices are less easy to stomach.

Not that Angelo will be unduly concerned, there are plenty of people willing to pay the required, necessary to secure a bottle. Today’s post, however, casts an eye over the more affordable wines that herald from Gaja’s other properties in both Piemonte and Toscana. Too often, subsidiary estates acquired by very successful producers can seem like nothing more than vanity projects with little purpose other than to increase profits. My biggest gripe being that the wines from these subsidiaries appear unable to deliver quite the profundity of the offerings from the more famous original. Yet acquisitions by Gaja have his stamp of quality running through them meaning few will be disappointed by the end product. Angelo describes himself as an artisan and once you stoke his metaphorical embers, by asking him questions concerning the methods used in his wine’s production, you realise that this is not an estate owner going through the motions; this 74 year old’s inner fire remains undimmed.

The purchase of estates in both Montalcino and Bolgheri gave Gaja production capability in Italy’s three most prestigious wine regions. The Rennina is a deeply pleasing Brunello and the Magari a fine example of how well the coastal vineyards of Bolgheri and Maremma suit Bordeaux varieties. Further purchases in Piemonte allowed Gaja to extend their offering and provides the consumer with some wines that are more forward and easily broached in their youth such as the elegant Sito Moresco. The aim is to produce wines that reflect a sense of place, a commonly heard mantra much easier to say than to achieve, yet these bottlings have seen that goal successfully attained. None of the wines below could ever be described as inexpensive but on the whole they impress and are worth the efforts required to seek them out.

Sito Moresco, Langhe, 2012, 14%
Grape:
35% Nebbiolo, 35% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine-making: 18 months in small barrels
Note: Delicately perfumed, sweet red fruit, floral, touch of cordite. Lovely palate, fine powdery tannins (very Nebbiolo) but with a plushness to the palate that is surely the result of the relatively high Merlot content. This may not have the same density or concentration as other Piemontese wines from Gaja but this is not a wine to be under-estimated. Delicious drinking now but with the ability to age over the medium term.
Price: 2400NT
Score: 17.5/20
Available from: Sergio Valente (Sergio.com.tw)

Rossj Bass, Langhe, 2013,13.5%
Grape:
Chardonnay
Wine-making: 100% Stainless steel fermentation and a little new French oak maturation for 8-10 months.
Note: Fresh, very limey, apricot, taut, crisp and mineral with some complexity provided by a little nutty creaminess. Intense fruit character and persistent but this needs some time to develop. Still a baby.
Price: 3400NT
Score: 17.5
Available from: Sergio Valente (Sergio.com.tw)

Magari, Ca’ Marcanda, IGT Toscana, 2012, 14.5%
Grape:
50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc (young vine)
Wine-making: 18 months in French oak
Note: Black and red fruit dominate on the nose but are amply supported by spice, perfume and some toasty oak. A freshness provided by the fine acidity lets you know that you are in Italy and the elevated alcohol that warms the mouth without setting it alight is an expected marker from these costal Tuscan vineyards.
Price: 3000NT
Score: 17/20
Available from: Sergio Valente (Sergio.com.tw)

Pieve Santa Restituta, Rennina, Brunello di Montalcino, 2007, 14%
Grape:
Brunello (Sangiovese)
Wine-making: 12 months in small oak followed by 12 months in large oak (botti)
Note: Bright ruby/garnet in colour this has a deliciously alluring, complex and savoury nose of tomato soup, beef bones, porcini mushrooms and sandalwood. Rich and concentrated, dens and persistent. Brilliant
Price: 7200NT
Score: 18.5/20
Available from: Sergio Valente (Sergio.com.tw)

D40 Angelo bottles