Monday, May 22, 2017

High-level view of Gaja Langhe winemaking process

In my most recent post, I covered changes in the Gaja agronomical practices since 2000. While there have been no meaningful changes in the winemaking processes during that time, providing a rounded picture of the Gaja Langhe environment dictates an overview of those processes. 

The table below shows the range of Gaja Langhe offerings at the point of my first visit a little less than 5 years ago.

In the table, five of the Nebbiolo wines are labeled Langhe Nebbiolo DOC. Angelo felt that a 100% Nebbiolo required bolstering to measure up to his vision and, to that end, added small amounts of Barbera to round out the wines. These additions meant that the wines could not be labeled DOCG. After seeing the quality of grapes that have become almost the norm in the Langhe in recent years, Angelo has made the decision to produce his wines to the DOCG specs beginning with the 2015 vintage.
The cellar is divided into three parts: (i) Fermentation cellar – all stainless steel tanks; (ii) first-year aging – barrique and tonneau, all French oak, and up to 20% new (first-, second-, and third-year passage); and (iii) second-year aging – large oak casks, Austrian and Slavonian oak.

If we look at a blend of the 14 parcels that go into the Barbaresco DOCG, the plots are kept separate through harvesting, destemming, fermentation, and first-year aging. The blend takes place in passage from the small barrels to large barrels. The wine spends one year in large barrels, a 50/50 split between the two regimes. The style, then, is dictated by the length of maceration and the proportion between barrique and tonneau.

This was my second visit to Gaja and the notes on the wines that I tasted on my initial visit can be found here. On this visit we tasted three Langhe wines and one from Montalcino. The notes from the most recent tasting follow.

The first wine tasted was a 2012 Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino. The estate generally draws fruit from south-and north-facing slopes but with the warm temperatures, the south-facing vineyard produced overripe fruit. The wine was opened the morning of the tasting. Sweet, dark, juicy fruit with attractive tannin levels. A food wine. Austere, smoky finish.
The Barbaresco 2014 was opened the day prior to the tasting. Not very concentrated (Sarah talks about a Burgundian style). Sweet, pale fruit with hints of carbonic maceration. Florality. Tar. On the palate strawberries, cherries and aggressive tannins.
The Sperss 1999 showed oak and sweet fruit, tobacco, rust, blackpepper, and a savoriness. Rose tar and spice on the palate. Richness and laid-down tannins.
The Gaia&Rey 2009 showed sweet fruit, oak and baking spices. Curry and tropical fruit. Utilized whole-bunch fermentation in this ripe vintage. Never tried it again. And I can understand why.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

No comments:

Post a Comment