Gaja, Costa Russi
Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy
The overt fruit and depth typical of Costa Russi comes through in spades in the 2009. Plums, black cherries, chocolate and new leather form the core of this round, expressive Costa Russi. As beautiful as this is, the 2009 remains deeply marked by the vintage. There is plenty of beauty and richness in the glass, but not quite the sheer visceral thrill of the very best Costa Russis. Although I wouldn’t open any of the 2009 single-vineyard wines in the near-term, the Costa Russi is the most expressive of the three. Anticipated maturity, 2017-2029. Angelo Gaja doesn’t say too much about his wines these days. He doesn’t need to. The wines more than speak for themselves. What impresses me most about the 2009s is the elegance of their tannin. This is a vintage where managing the crop load was critical in achieving balance. Gaja is one of the very few growers who got it right. His wines stand out for their textural finesse and sense of harmony. Although Gaja is easily the most glamorous winery in Piedmont, it remains a family affair, with Angelo Gaja’s wife Lucia, and their daughters Gaia and Rossana increasingly involved, and their younger brother Giovanni set to follow in their footsteps. Long-time winemaker Guido Rivella keeps a much lower profile, but he is the man who has produced all of Gaja’s most legendary wines going back to 1970. Angelo Gaja describes 2009 as a year with a lot of rain until June. The bunches on average were loose and the berries small, which resulted in high skin-to-juice ratios, which is quite favorable for ageworthy wines.