If one estate defines Barbaresco, it’s Gaja. It’s the
oldest winery in the DOC (Denominazione d’Origine
Controllata, or the only area where Barbaresco
wine can be produced), founded in 1859. But it’s the
extravagant Angelo Gaja who really put the estate on
the map. Not to mention Barbaresco itself.
He took over the family estate in 1961 as a fresh-faced
21 year old, and immediately started making changes.
1967 was the first vintage of his ‘Sori’ bottlings: he was
one of the pioneers of single vineyard wines in Italy.
And he was one of the pioneers of using small oak
barriques to age Barbaresco, and of lower yields in the
region. The list goes on and on.
He caused shockwaves in 1996 when he pulled his top
single vineyard Barbarescos out of the Barbaresco
DOC (so he could add a little Barbera to the blend,
something strictly forbidden under DOC rules). Some feared, with no hint of melodrama, that Gaja leaving
Barbaresco would be the death of the denomination.
But from the outstanding 2013 vintage, the wines are
back to being bottled as Barbarescos, back as 100%
Nebbiolo. And the results speak for themselves and
the influence of his daughter Gaia Gaja who's come
on board: these are some of the most impressive,
and highest scoring, examples ever.