Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
The first thing I noticed about the 2006 Langhe Sperss is the finish, which literally lasts an eternity. It, too, is more overtly structured, powerful and less fruit-forward than the 2007, but its focus and drive are commendable. The wine seems to hover on the palate with an ethereal expression of dark fruit, smoke, licorice, tar and menthol, all of which are backed up with substantial heft and sheer muscle. This is a marvelous effort from Gaja and will appeal most to readers with a preference for sturdy, age-worthy wines. Anticipated maturity, 2021-2041. My most recent visit to Gaja was quite an experience, as I tasted all of the estate’s 1989s, 1990s and 2007s. The 1989s and 1990s are reviewed in this issue’s What About Now feature. Angelo Gaja, always loquacious on a wide range of subjects, says virtually nothing about his wines, an approach I have increasingly come to appreciate in an era where so many producers are constantly in pitch mode. Then again, Gaja doesn’t really need to say anything, the wines speak for themselves. I tasted the 2007s at the winery in November 2009 and then again in New York in January 2010. Both times they were spectacular. Stylistically the 2007s remind me of the 1997s in terms of their opulence. Gaja’s wines are often immensely appealing when young – which is certainly the case with the 2007s – but then close down in bottle for a number of years, sometimes many years. My impression is that the Costa Russi and Conteisa are the most likely of these 2007s to offer the widest drinking windows throughout their lives with a minimum of cellaring. Fermentation and malolactic fermentation take place in steel. The wines then spend approximately one year in French oak and a second year in cask prior to being bottled. As has been the case for a number of years now, Gaja’s Langhe wines incorporate a small percentage of Barbera. On a final note, it’s great to see Gaja’s daughters Gaia and Rossana increasingly involved in the winery. They, and their younger brother Giovanni, have big shoes to fill, but couldn’t have asked for better teachers than Angelo and Lucia Gaja.