The perfect size for just a taste of this Gaja goodness, this half-bottle holds the heart of Bolgheri in its supple grip. Vibrant cassis and blackberry turn leafy in the garrigue-laced depths. A sleek, elegant blending of 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot, this is an impressive turn from a hot year and will continue to dole out delight over the next decade plus.
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.
The Gaja family at its Camarcanda estate is leading a silent revolution. Certified organic, although this is not mentioned, the winery has overturned Merlot for Cabernets and cordon training for guyot in the vineyards. Since 2015 it has introduced concrete and oak along with stainless steel for fermentation. Now it is experimenting with whole clusters, and the oak ageing was sensibly reduced. The 2017 vintage shines for its bright cassis fruit, melded with blackberry and cherry, then leafy and cedary notes to develop garrigue in depth. The creamy and dense palate has almost firm acidity and shows a bit of a dry finish, but otherwise this is hedonistically supple.