Gaja and White Truffle Piedmont Wine Tasting

Saturday, October 12, 2019 - 07:30 PM

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"The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age." 
Lucille Ball

There is nothing that is quite as decadent as white truffles but if you are going to pair a wine with this unique culinary experience Nebbiolo would be my first, second and third choice.  The Piedmont is one of the world's most unique grape growing regions and is the only area where the Nebbiolo varietal makes a high quality age worthy wine.  This is also the only part of the world where you find the white truffle.   These truly unique fungi are not only very intense in flavor but also incredibly expensive pound for pound the most expensive food in the world today.  This is one of the only times when it comes to food and wine where the food almost always costs more than the wine here at our “Once in a Lifetime” events at the Wine Watch.

 

Join us as we experience one of the rare culinary treats alongside one of the great wine producers of the Piedmont with a selection of every top wine that Angelo Gaja makes in the Piedmont along with one of the great older vintage wines from this producer- the legendary 1971 vintage Barbaresco.   Toni Lampasone will be making a special tasting menu to accompany the tasting wines.  The fee for this event is $450.00 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com.
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Gaja and Friends and White Truffle Dinner at Wine Watch

Saturday, October 12, 2019
7:30 PM

 

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1964 Fontanafredda Barolo
1971 Marchesi Dei Barolo Riserva della Castellana
1971 Gaja Barbaresco
1982 Vietti Barolo Roche
1990 Silvio Grasso Barolo Bricco Luciani
1991 Gaja Barolo Sperss
1997 Gaja Costa Russi
1998  Gaja Sori San Lorenzo
2000  Gaja Costa Russi
2000 Bruno Giacosa Asili Barbaresco Riserva
2007 Gaja Costa Russi

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Menu
Flan with White Truffles
White Truffle Fettucini
Tuna Crudo with White Truffle
Veal and White Truffle with Creme Sauce and mashed potato

The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $450 + Tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail andy@winewatch.com.  Please let us know when you make your reservation if you do NOT like veal and Toni will be glad to make you chicken.

 

A bit about Gaja Winery:

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He has been called a restless genius; others have been less charitable in their characterizations of Angelo Gaja (pronounced GUY-YAH).  Gaja is a fourth generation winegrower from Barbaresco, one of Italy's premier wine districts in Piedmont in northern Italy.  As controversial as Angelo Gaja is, nobody disputes his great talents as a winemaker or his ability to generate interest in his wines.  Gaja in his relatively short career has become the highest profile grower in Piedmont as well as Italy's most famous winemaker.  He has accomplished this through consummate skill at both winemaking and public relations.  He describes himself as "vain"; we translate that to mean that he is not the least bit reluctant to be an unabashed publicist for his own wines.  Gaja has traveled extensively throughout the world hyping the Gaja name while also trying to learn more about how he might apply new technology in order to improve his own wines.  He first visited California for this purpose in 1974, and it is presumed that it was there that he became fascinated with the "barrique" concept - the idea of aging his reds in small oak barrels.  He has broken new ground in many areas, and even his critics begrudgingly admit that the results speak for themselves.  Gaja is now regarded as Piedmont's leading producer of Barbaresco, and his wines command prices that rival those charged anywhere in the world.

The Gaja firm has been bottling wines since the early 1900's; in 1964 a decision was made to contract the size of the Gaja winery and produce only wines from the winery's own vineyards.  The fact that the Gaja winery produces only estate wines is a most salient point in the gospel according to Gaja, for he feels that the consumer is willing to pay more for "authentic Gaja".  Gaja is the largest private owner of vineyards in the Barbaresco zone with 153 acres.  About half the annual Gaja production of 22,000 cases is Barbaresco - the rest is split between Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, a nouveau-style Nebbiolo called Vinot, several Chardonnays, a Cabernet, and a Barolo.  The Cabernet and Chardonnay have been very controversial in this part of Italy where tradition and conservative values reign supreme.  To plant foreign grapes in Barbaresco was heresy to some; but Gaja defends against those charges by pointing out that in the 1890's - before phylloxera destroyed the vineyards - there were Cabernet and Chardonnay vines planted in Piedmont.  Even the retired Giovanni Gaja, Angelo Gaja's father (who is now said to like the Cabernet planted in the Gaja vineyards), referred to the Cabernet plantings as "darmagi" - "such a pity."  He felt that it was a pity that Cabernet - not the native Nebbiolo - was being planted in a prime vineyard site by his son.  The name stuck, and Gaja's Cabernet is called Darmagi.  We have tasted the Chardonnay and the Cabernet with Gaja and on several other occasions and have been impressed with their quality; their price, however, is extremely ambitious.

In 1988 Gaja purchased a Barolo vineyard in the Marenca e Rivette area of the village of Serralunga.  The property was well known to Gaja, for his father often purchased fruit from this vineyard in order to produce Barolo in the 1940's and 1950's.  This long standing desire to return to Barolo was reflected in the name Gaja selected for the Barolo.  The name "Sperss" is an expression in Piedmontese dialect that translates to "profound longing or nostalgia" (in this case nostalgia for Barolo.)  The first two releases - the 1988 and 1989 Sperss - have met extraordinary critical reception.  The 1989 was selected as the number two wine in the TOP 100 wines of 1993 and scored a (96) in The Wine Spectator!

Gaja has made his name with Barbaresco.  Both Barbaresco and Barolo are produced from the Nebbiolo grape within a few miles of each other in Piedmont.  Gaja ages his Barbaresco in small new oak barrels, and he manages to produce a wine that takes on a certain subtlety and suppleness without losing the personality of the Nebbiolo grape.  One way Gaja manages to do this is by steam cleaning the inside of his brand new oak barrels in order to remove some of the oak extract they might otherwise impart to the new wine - a rather shocking technique that works!  His Barbarescos have a unique personality for other reasons as well.  He picks his grapes late for more extract and color, but he also strives to produce a harmonious wine with more aroma and flavor and less tannin.  These and many other factors are what make Gaja Barbarescos unique and sought out by connoisseurs all over the world.  In addition to Gaja's regular Barbaresco, he bottles three "crus" - but only in great years.  His single vineyard Barbarescos - "Sorì San Lorenzo", "Sorì Tildìn", and "Costa Russi" - are quite possibly the best produced in Italy and among the world's noblest red wines.  Over the past decade Angelo Gaja has really excelled with his Barbaresco - producing fabulous world-class wines in vintages such as 1982, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997,  1998, 1999, 2000 and this 2001.  The Piedmont has seen an unprecedented string of outstanding vintage from 1996-2001.  All three of Gaja's single cru Barbarescos rated a (95) or better in The Wine Spectator; in both 1996 & 1997 and in 1998 two of the three rated (95) or better, an incredible track record for the last three releases.  Generally of the three crus produced by Gaja, the Sorì San Lorenzo is the slowest maturing, the longest-lived, and the least approachable in its youth.  The Costa Russi is the most approachable when young, while the Sorì Tildìn falls between the two.

In The Gambero Rosso (the Italian wine Bible) Gaja is the only producer in the Piedmont with a rating of “Two Stars”, indicating the number of times his wines have received the coveted “Three Glass” award.  Gaja’s wines have received twenty-one (a star for every ten “Three Glass” wine).  They call Gaja “Here we are in the presence of what is undoubtedly the best Italian winery, to judge from the quality of its wines; colleagues and wine critics from all over the world admit as much.”

 

The rest of the Gaja wines that we have available in the store:

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Gaja Alteni Di Brassica Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Price: $186.00    Sale $163.68
The Gaja family made history once again when it planted Sauvignon Blanc in the Barbaresco appellation in 1983. Today, the fruit for this mineral-driven expression of Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from the original plantings in Barbaresco and newer vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba (in the Barolo appellation), roughly 7.5 acres in all. The name is based on two traditionally common elements in the Piedmontese landscape. Alteni are the classic, short white stone walls that were once typically used to cloister the vineyards of Piedmont. Brassica is the name of the beautiful yellow flowers that pepper the vineyards in the springtime. Combined, the name means the little walls of yellow springtime flowers.
Alteni di Brassica combines the classic herbaceous and aromatic qualities of the grape variety with the elegance and refinement of the GAJA style. Pheasants are featured on Alteni di Brassica's label to commemorate the beautiful birds that inhabit the forests adjacent to GAJA's vineyards.

Gaja Gaia & Rey Chardonnay 2017
Price: $318.75    Sale $280.50
The winery's historic Gaia & Rey Chardonnay is a wine that not only reshaped the legacy of the house itself, but also redefined Piedmont as one of the truly great winemaking regions of the world. Named after Lucia and Angelo Gaja's daughter, Gaia Gaja, and Angelo Gaja's grandmother Clotilde Rey (the family's great matriarch and one of its most forward-thinking visionaries), Gaia & Rey was first bottled in 1983 and released the following year.
 With this historic bottling, Angelo Gaja showed the world that exceptional white wines could be produced in the Langhe Hills, where red wines had been produced almost exclusively before. He also delivered to the world what is now considered one of the greatest white wines of Europe, a truly remarkable accomplishment in a country where red grapes have historically dominated the realm of fine wine. The 2017 vintage proves that great quality sometimes comes from scarcity. Three days of frost at the end of April set back the crop size by 10 percent, then high heat in summer and lack of rainfall presented challenges in managing the vineyards. The good news is that with strict selection and our no-compromise approach, the fruit harvested was healthy and excellent white wines were the result, despite the drop in production.

Gaja Rossj Bass Chardonnay 2017
Price: $114.75    Sale $100.98
This wine is produced from grapes grown in several estate-owned vineyards. The Rossj vineyard, planted in 1984, is named for Angelo Gaja's younger daughter Rossana (Rossj). Bass is Piedmontese for the Italian basso, meaning low, a name derived from the vineyard's position. Pheasants are featured on Rossj-Bass' label to commemorate the beautiful birds that inhabit the forests adjacent to GAJA's vineyards.

Gaja Sito Moresco 2016
Price: $64.50       Sale $56.76
Sito Moresco is named for the family who farmed this 25-acre estate in Barbaresco before its purchase by the Gaja family, a nod to the people and traditions that preceded it. It means literally the Moresco site, after the family name of Giovannini Moresco. GAJA created this red blend to deliver greater approachability in its youth. 
Sito Moresco is made from vineyards located in the villages of Treiso and Barbaresco (in the Barbaresco appellation) and  fruit from Serralunga d’Alba (in the Barolo appellation). Pheasants are featured on Sito Moresco's label to commemorate the beautiful birds that inhabit the forests adjacent to GAJA's vineyards.

Gaja Barbaresco 2015
Price: $202.50    Sale $178.20

The centerpiece of the portfolio, GAJA Barbaresco is a testament to the Gaja family's historic commitment to the appellation and its belief that Barbaresco stands proudly with the great growing regions of the world. The GAJA winery stopped sourcing fruit from other growers in 1961 in order to ensure the utmost quality in its wines. In all, GAJA Barbaresco is produced using grapes grown in 14 vineyards in the villages of Barbaresco and Treiso.

Gaja Costa Russi 2015
Price: $641.25    Sale $564.30

(95 Points)  Earthy base notes are the hallmarks of this rich, muscular red. Plum, cherry, spice, tobacco and mineral flavors mingle, and the refined tannins provide lift on the long aftertaste. Best from 2023 through 2042.  Wine Spectator

Gaja Sori San Lorenzo 2015
Price: $641.25    Sale $564.30

(97 Points) A bright, fruity version, boasting strawberry, cherry, floral, mineral and tobacco flavors, this is dense, solidly structured and vibrant, with a lingering, racy aftertaste. Very complex and well-balanced. Best from 2023 through 2042.  Wine Spectator

Gaja Sori Tildin 2015
Price: $641.25    Sale $564.30

(96 Points) Almost seamless now, this red is hitting its stride, exuding cherry, strawberry, floral, mineral and tobacco aromas and flavors. Offers great structure and length, with a firm, minerally aftertaste. Best from 2022 through 2040.  Wine Spectator

Gaja Costa Russi 2014
Price: $659.00    Sale $579.92

(94 Points) Tight and focused, this red features a beam of cherry, strawberry, leather, tobacco, tar and iron wrapped in the grip of dense, refined tannins. Fresh and balanced, showing plenty of energy on the resonant finish. Best from 2023 through 2040  Wine Spectator

Gaja Barolo Conteisa 2013
Price: $292.50    Sale $257.40

(95 Points) The 2013 Barolo Conteisa is now officially a DOCG wine following years as a Langhe Nebbiolo or IGT wine. The first vintage was 1996 and fruit is sourced from the Cerequio cru in La Morra. This is a classic and coherent expression that is characterized by crunchy fruit flavors and sweet tannins. Fruit came into the winery at very low temperatures and saw slow fermentations. Generally speaking, the 2013 vintage is characterized by slow ripening and a long growing season (unlike 2012 that saw more concentrated heat). This is a balanced and homogenous wine with a softly caressing nature. It offers aromas of citrus, summer fruit and even a touch of watermelon pulp. This wine is usually considered the more immediate of Gaja's two new Barolo wines, yet this vintage surely needs extra time to evolve.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Gaja Barolo Dagromis 2015
Price: $101.25    Sale $89.10

The vineyards used for this wine were acquired by GAJA in 1995 from a family named Gromis, hence the name, DaGromis, meaning literally, at home with the Gromis family. DaGromis is produced with Nebbiolo grapes grown in two historic vineyards, one in Serralunga adjacent to the Sperss vineyard and the other in La Morra adjacent to the Conteisa vineyard. 
This wine is already showing more intense and fruit-forward aromas than in past years. Very fresh notes of blood orange, bitter orange, tangerine and dark red fruits are intermingled with fresh earth, anise seed and herb.
The palate is fresh and juicy, with a mouth-filling texture and firm but balanced tannins and acidity. Attractive richness showing red-tone fruits, berry, pomegranate, wild strawberry combine with vibrant acidity in a mid-weight, sleek style.

Gaja Sperss 2014
Price: $322.50    Sale $283.80

(94 Points) This is a slightly more subdued vintage of this legendary wine, albeit just as sophisticated as past editions. The 2014 Barolo Sperss opens to gorgeous aromas of dark fruit, wet earth and white truffle. The vineyards in Serralunga d'Alba produced much less fruit than average and suffered from bouts of downy mildew during the rainy seasons. But Serralunga d'Alba fruit is also harvested late, and that extra time was important for achieving grape ripeness targets. The wine presents depth and complexity within the context of a thinner vintage. Having said that, the bouquet is spectacular.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 

Pieve Di Santa Restituta – Gaja’s property in Montalcino

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Gaja Brunello Di Montalcino Rennina 2013
Price: $174.75    Sale $153.78

(95 Points) The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Rennina is a dark, plush and succulent red wine with seamless overall integration. Angelo Gaja makes his wines with broad brush strokes that form shapes of perfect harmony and grandeur. He seems less interested in the minutiae, much in the same way an impressionist painter creates a portrait without consideration for the gritty details of reality. Continuing with my art metaphor, I'll venture to say that this is a big-picture wine that embraces bold fruit, oak spice, acidity and tannin in one overwhelming and warm embrace. I usually score the Sugarille a point or two higher, but this year the Rennina won my heart.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Gaja Brunello Di Montalcino Rennina 2004
Price: $333.00    Sale $293.04

(93 Points) The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Rennina is gorgeous in this vintage. Medium in body, the wine offers up attractive scents of underbrush, red cherries, tobacco, leather and licorice, all of which are framed by silky, ripe tannins. The wine reveals tons of purity and class in an understated style. As is often the case, the Rennina is the more feminine of the estate’s Brunellos. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2022.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Gaja Brunello Di Montalcino Rennina 2007
Price: $309.00    Sale $271.92

(94 Points) The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Rennina flows across the palate with layers of sensual, perfumed fruit. Soft, gracious and impeccably balanced, the 2007 Rennina impresses for its overall harmony and sense of grace. Sweet red berries, crushed flowers and spices wrap around the feminine finish. This is a very pretty not to mention hugely appealing wine from Pieve Santa Restituta. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Gaja Brunello Di Montalcino Sugarille 2000
Price: $427.50    Sale $376.20

(93+ Points)  Deep, bright red. Nose initially shows dark berries, chocolate and sweet oak but opens with air to reveal redder fruits and flowers that carry through onto the palate. Big, chewy and rich yet with an almost magically light touch, with terrific concentration and energy to the highly concentrated flavors. A distinctly powerful style of Brunello, finishing quite broad, with sappy, saline energy, superb drive and firm, mouthcoating tannins.   Steven Tanzer, IWC

Gaja Brunello Di Montalcino 2013
Price: $97.50       Sale $85.80

(92 Points) Full ruby-red. Aromas of red cherry, blackberry, licorice and minerals. Juicy and tightly wound but pliant, offering smooth black and red fruit flavors complicated by licorice and fresh herbs. Classically dry and long, finishing with supple but firm tannins and a bright floral element. It’s hard to argue with this entry-level Brunello’s quality. I find it to be slightly underrated in many vintages, as all the attention is focused on Gaja’s two top Brunellos, the Rennina and the Sugarille. But this non-cru Brunello offers lots of high-quality wine for the price. Vinous

Gaja Brunello Di Montalcino 2014
Price: $97.50       Sale $85.80

Ca Marcanda – Gaja’s Winery in Bolgheri

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Gaja Ca Marcanda Vistamare 2017
Price: $78.00       Sale $68.64

(91 Points) This is this publication's first review for Vistamare, which has been produced since 2009. The 2017 Vistamare is a blend of 45% Vermentino, 40% Viognier and 15% Fiano. The Vermentino and Fiano are fermented in stainless steel, while the Viognier goes into wood—some with lees aging and some not, to avoid it being too heavy and fat. The vines are shaded, thanks to the leafy canopy (with a view of the sea in Bibbona, hence the name "vistamare"), to keep the fruit cool and to preserve the acidity. The 2017 vintage shows concentrated freshness with Mediterranean notes of mint and sage. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Gaja Ca Marcanda Promis 2016
Price: $53.00       Sale $46.64

The proprietary name Promis (proh-MEESS) was created by the Gaja family to denote commitment, expectation, fulfillment, and hope. The promise of quality and the reward of diligence and excellence. The grapes are grown in terre brune (rich, dark soils) which consist primarily of loam and clay. The climate - hot summer days, freshened by brisk sea air and cool nights - is ideal for the grapes grown here. Promis is balanced and approachable in its youth with considerable aging potential (5-8 years). 

Gaja Ca Marcanda Magari 2016
Price: $76.50       Sale $67.32

(95 Points) The 60/30/10 blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot in the 2016 Bolgheri Rosso Magari produces an expressive and opulent red wine, with great acidity and definition. The wine is firm and tightly wound, with secondary complexity that expresses itself in terms of tar, leather and spice. The tannins are supple and soft. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Gaja Ca Marcanda Camarcanda 2016
Price: $179.00    Sale $157.20

(97 Points) This is another beautiful creation from the Gaja family. The 2016 Bolgheri Rosso Camarcanda (Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc) is infinitely smooth and finely textured down to the very last pixel in what is a high-resolution panoramic photograph. The core of the wine is packed tight with an explosion of flavor and concentration with so much dark fruit, spice, tobacco and sweet tobacco that unfurls from deep inside. This wine will have a long and, I am quite sure, very happy aging future ahead. It shows utmost precision and balance, with long persistence and a beautifully polished texture. Some 22,000 bottles were made.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate