Crisp and luminous, the 2016 Langhe Rossj-Bass is Chardonnay enhanced with a tiny part Sauvignon Blanc. This second grape only constitutes 5% of the blend, yet its presence is felt in a big way. The wine presents pristine and sharply delineated tones of exotic fruit, peach and white rose. Fruit is sourced in Barbaresco and in Serralunga d’Alba. This wine delivers a bright spot of acidity that was shaped by the steep diurnal temperature shifts that characterized the tail end of the growing season. Much work has been achieved in the vineyards to optimize farming and to ensure that ripening does not advance too quickly or with too much alcohol. This wine will be released at the end of July 2017 and I tasted it just before bottling.
I love writing my annual introduction to Gaja because there’s always so much news to report. Last year, The Wine Advocate was the first to report that the estate’s famously declassified wines, namely the Langhe Nebbiolo Costa Russi, Sorì Tildìn and Sorì San Lorenzo crus, had returned to the Barbaresco DOCG appellation. That tiny percentage of Barbera was removed and the wines are pure expressions of Nebbiolo from three distinct vineyards in the region. This year, we can add two more wines to full appellation status. Both from the Barolo region, Conteisa (from the Cerequio cru in La Morra) and Sperss (from the Marenca-Rivette vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba), have now officially returned to DOCG status. With the exception of the Bordeaux blend Darmagi, all of Gaja’s top-end red wines are represented by either Barbaresco DOCG or Barolo DOCG status. I can confirm that the line of Barbaresco cru wines are being produced in the 2014 vintage and will be released next year. The other big news that broke during my trip to Etna, is that Angelo Gaja and his family have now invested on the Sicilian volcano. Gaja is joining forces with Alberto Aiello Graci of the Graci winery in Passopisciaro to make wine together. They bought 21 hectares of vines on the Southwest flank of the volcano. Gaja & Graci is big news for Etna, and is bigger news still for Gaja. The Piedmont powerhouse definitely knows how to grab those headlines.