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Average critic rating : 92.0 points
The 2006 Langhe Darmagi (Cabernet Sauvignon) makes a far more eloquent case for itself than the 2007. The fruit is dark, massive and imposing, while perfumed varietal notes add considerable complexity. A muscular core of blackberries, blueberries, graphite, grilled herbs, roasted coffee beans and French oak emerges with notable density. The tannins are firm yet impeccable, while the wine’s balance is first-class. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2031. My most recent visit to Gaja was quite an experience, as I tasted all of the estate’s 1989s, 1990s and 2007s. The 1989s and 1990s are reviewed in this issue’s What About Now feature. Angelo Gaja, always loquacious on a wide range of subjects, says virtually nothing about his wines, an approach I have increasingly come to appreciate in an era where so many producers are constantly in pitch mode. Then again, Gaja doesn’t really need to say anything, the wines speak for themselves. I tasted the 2007s at the winery in November 2009 and then again in New York in January 2010. Both times they were spectacular. Stylistically the 2007s remind me of the 1997s in terms of their opulence. Gaja’s wines are often immensely appealing when young – which is certainly the case with the 2007s – but then close down in bottle for a number of years, sometimes many years. My impression is that the Costa Russi and Conteisa are the most likely of these 2007s to offer the widest drinking windows throughout their lives with a minimum of cellaring. Fermentation and malolactic fermentation take place in steel. The wines then spend approximately one year in French oak and a second year in cask prior to being bottled. As has been the case for a number of years now, Gaja’s Langhe wines incorporate a small percentage of Barbera. On a final note, it’s great to see Gaja’s daughters Gaia and Rossana increasingly involved in the winery. They, and their younger brother Giovanni, have big shoes to fill, but couldn’t have asked for better teachers than Angelo and Lucia Gaja. Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate # 187.
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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