When the vineyard was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in 1978, Angelo Gaja’s traditionalist father shook his head and muttered, “Darmagi!” or, “what a pity.” Proof that father doesn’t always know best, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is fragrant and gracious with its dark fruit, exotic spice and leafy character. This wine loves a warm vintage and 2015 was just that – after a few years of rest, it’s ready to shine for the next two decades.
Angelo Gaja, born in 1940, remains the alpha male of Italian winemaking, one of a long line of natural-born leaders and entrepreneurs. His father, Giovanni, was the political secretary for Barbaresco under Mussolini, and was so popular with the local citizenry that the Italian resistance never harmed him during WWII. Giovanni went on to become Mayor of Barbaresco from 1958 to 1983. For most of the postwar period, Giovanni worked as a construction manager all over Piedmont, and invested all of his earnings in land, while his mother, Clotilde Rey, AKA Tildin, ran the winery. By the time young Angelo entered the family business in 1961, the family owned 82 acres of prime vineyard land in Barbaresco and their brand was already well-known throughout Italy. In the following years, Angelo went on to build an Italian institution, adding estate vineyards in the Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and Bolgheri appellations. Today Gaja [GUY-yuh] is arguably the most prestigious wine brand in Italy.
Darmagi loves a warm vintage. The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Darmagi embraces the summer warmth like a happy sponge. This wine is faithfully true to the variety, with intensely dark fruit followed by dried cassis, exotic spice and green laurel leaf. There is a point of succulent sweetness in the mouth that is uniquely specific to this hot vintage. The wine is seamless and smooth in texture with solid structure on the close. The vines suffered from stripe disease (GLSD). This reduced the capacity of the plant's foliar system. Gaia Gaja tells me they were able to harvest from the healthy parts of the vines to make this beautiful wine.