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Average critic rating : 91.0 points
1999 Barbaresco—Medium ruby. Gaja’s 1999 Barbaresco opens with a delicate, perfumed nose followed by sweet red fruit, tar, licorice, wet earth and smoke flavors with excellent length and overall harmony although it can’t quite match the sheer appeal of the 2000 and 2001 versions. With some air it is approachable now, although a few years of cellaring will be beneficial. It should drink well to age twenty. 91/drink after 2009, 03/06 As always, the house style is very much present in the wines. Beginning in 1996 the Langhe wines contain a small amount of Barbera (between 5-8%) which Gaja says is added to give the wines additional acidity. Vinification remains fairly traditional by today’s standards. Fermentation and maceration last about three weeks. For the Barbaresco the fermentation takes place at a temperature of roughly 82?F (28?C). Gaja uses a slightly different approach for his ‘crus’ Sori San Lorenzo, Sori Tildin, Costa Russi, Conteisa, and Sperss, for which the temperature during fermentation is lowered to 64?F (18?C) after the first week. All of the wines undergo malolactic fermentation in barrique. The wines then age one year in barrique and a second year in cask. For his Darmagi Gaja employs a shorter fermentation lasting 10-15 days. The wine sees 6-8 months in barrique followed by one year in large oak casks. Antonio Galloni, In the Cellar # G7.
The wines of Angelo Gaja have been at the forefront of Piedmont for many years. An ancient family domaine established in the 1850s, the business was revolutionised by Angelo when he joined in 1961, bringing methods and a philosophy that were decades ahead of their time.
Taking full control of the family business in 1970, Gaja has been a pioneer ever since, and his Barbarescos are the famous wines of the region. Indeed you could say that Gaja put Barbaresco on the map.
More of a modernist than many of his neighbours, Gaja’s wines are polished, pure and precise. In youth they can often be inpenetrably faultless; with age they are peerless. The single vineyard wines – Costa Russi, Sori Tildin and Sori San Lorenzo cannot be called Barbaresco despite their vineyard sites: a dash of Barbera in these wines, which adds just a touch of plumpness to the Nebbiolo, breaks just one of the numerous rules imposed on the winemakers of Piedmont that Mr Gaja views as an impediment to making his extraordinary wines.
A genius for sure, Angelo Gaja cannot be faulted for what he puts in the bottle. Robert Parker
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