The 2016 vintage in Barbaresco is a vintage of a generation, with extremely high quality and the potential to be extraordinary. The season began with cool weather, with plenty of rain, followed by hotter weather in the spring. The summer conditions were warm, without sustained heat spikes, noticeably cooler evenings, recording greater diurnal swings than 2015, brilliant for retaining balance and acidity. These ideal conditions saw a prolonged growing season resulting in a leisurely October harvest. This is slightly later than usual, which shifted ripening to the shorter cooler days of September and October, rather than August. Quite simply the growing season was perfect. This resulted in incredible balanced and healthy Nebbiolo entering wineries, translating to wines that are wonderfully harmonious, simultaneously displaying brilliant ripe fruit, very fine tannin and captivating, enchanting aromatics. In Bordeaux this would be touted as the vintage of the century.
As such it comes as no surprise that Gaja Barbaresco 2016 could be their greatest ever, awarded 96 points from Monica Larner of The Wine Advocate. This equals the 1990 and the 1989, two wines with quasi-mythical status in Barbaresco that trade today at £1,800 and £2,400 respectively. The 2016 also reminds one of the 2001, a modern masterpiece, which with 93 points trades at £1,600 per case. The market is willing to pay handsomely for the finest vintages of Gaja Barbaresco, due to the wine’s ability to pair soaring aromatics, with sensual, seductive harmony and a symphony of complexity on the long finishes. We are delighted to release the 2016 today at £885 per case of six. Gaja Barbaresco 2016 should be snapped up on release, it will reward any collector who secures it. With fewer than 3,500 cases made, its promise of greatness will make the 2016 a wine in high demand.
Angelo Gaja’s wines are highly sought after the world over. Gaja is one of the most recognisable fine wine brands and considered the acme of Barbaresco. In fact, Angelo Gaja introduced several practices to Piedmont, starting in 1961 by experimenting with green harvesting and single vineyard production, which began with Sori San Lorenzo in 1967, Sori Tildin in 1970 and Costa Russi in 1978. He introduced malolactic fermentation to Piedmont and from 1975 started using French barriques, although by modernist standards he is still reserved in their use. The younger Gaja generation have now begun to take the reins, with Gaia, Giovanni and Rossana running the show. This change coincides with developments towards sustainable farming, a response to climate change, something the family take very seriously.
Gaja Barbaresco is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from 14 different Barbaresco vineyards, at an altitude between 250 and 330 metres above sea level and covering 21.4 hectares, from vines with an average age of 45 years. The grapes from each vineyard undergo separate fermentation and maceration, then spend 12 months ageing in barrique, followed by 12 months in large oak casks. Nebbiolo gets affected by small differences in soil type and of course climate. As such Gaja’s blend of 14 vineyards is a feature of what makes the wine truly great. They are fastidious about the health of every vine in their stunning vineyards and this taken with the diversity and flexibility, helping them create the famous balance and complexity
We tasted the 2016 at the Estate last week and were blown away with the aromatic drive of rose petal, violets, dried flowers, graphite, smoke and thyme. The textured palate is plush, with refined tannin; velvety, with meaty notes, finishing with power and finesse, dark chocolate and cocoa bean on the finish. It is a wine for the long-haul. It could be their greatest ever and is a must buy for any lover of great wine.
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