"He was one of the pioneers of single vineyard wines in Italy."

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More about Gaja

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.