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AT A GLANCE:

Name of wine estate: GAJA
Country: Italy
Wine region: Piedmont
Standout points: Some of the best Barbarescos and Barolos money can buy
Winemaker: Angelo Gaja
Wine style: Focus on elegant, long-lived Nebbiolos

Website: http://www.gaja.com/

The house that Angelo built
Founded in 1859, the fifth-generation Gaja winery has elevated Barbaresco – routinely seen as the understudy to Barolo – to cult status. Gaja’s reputation as one of Italy’s finest wine producers rests largely with Angelo Gaja, whose impact in defining fine Italian wine in the last 30 years is hard to overstate. His tireless effort and vineyard/cellar innovations – high-density planting, lower yields, installing temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks, ageing wines in French barriques – have inspired the next generation. Angelo’s daughters Gaia and Rossana, and son Giovanni continue to move Gaja forward in its own singular direction to produce Barolo and Barbaresco wines of rare purity and personality.

Eyes on the prize
A visit to Gaja is an opportunity to taste some of the most highly prized wines in all of Italy. From their flagship Barbaresco DOCG (sourced from 14 different vineyards) and five single-vineyard Barbarescos to their cru Barolos, Gaja’s signature elegance, concentration and ethereal complexity shines through. Lest you forget, the winery also produces some impressive whites: including the stylish Sauvignon Blanc ‘Alteni di Brassica’ and the wonderfully rich ‘Rossj Bass’ Chardonnay.

Open doors
Though long known for its closed-door policy, Gaja opened to the public for the first time in 2014. Unusually, Gaja has set up its visitor offering to support non-profit organisations. For this reason, those interested in visiting Gaja winery are invited to make a donation (minimum €300 per person) to a specially chosen charity. Gaja’s commitment in exchange for this generous donation is to offer a personalised tour of the surrounding vineyards and cellar followed by a tasting of wines selected by the Gaja family. Be assured, the expense is more than repaid by tasting some of the most haunting Nebbiolos money can buy.