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Italian Icons: Gaja’s 2013 Barbaresco Quartet, Unknown Antinori, and Gravner’s Liquid Gold
December 28, 2016
A Note from Sergio

When he assumed control of his father's estate about fifty years ago, Angelo Gaja famously (or infamously, depending on your point of view) rebelled against traditional Langhe winemaking. Gaja soon became known for his outrageous wines--as well as his use of modern protocol, French barriques, and single-vineyard bottlings, his planting Cabernet Sauvignon and, eventually, his choice to add Barbera and declassify his Barbaresco and Barolo. These radical departures from Langhe winemaking history made ardent fans, and they also made passionate detractors. It's fair to say that Gaja is the poster boy for change in the very staid, very traditional Langhe.

Throughout all those changes Angelo remained true to tradition in making one specific wine: a classic, conventional and thoroughly historical Barbaresco. A blend aged in big botti, this Barbaresco remained a wine that Angelo's forbears would instantly recognize. (Although Angelo would probably argue that his cru Barbaresco trio with their kisses of Barbera would be familiar to his forbears too; after all, the DOCG didn't require Barbaresco to be just Nebbiolo until 1980.) But just as Angelo changed his father's estate, so too are Angelo's children, most specifically his daughter Gaia, poised to change their father's estate, and in 2013 Angelo and his children moved the estate back towards tradition, dropping the Barbera component of the cru trio, making these wines pure Barbarescos again.

Today, I'm proud to bring you the 2013 Gaja Barbaresco: the cru trio of Sorì San Lorenzo, Sorì Tildìn, and Costa Russi, as well as the estate's traditional cuvée bottling. 2013 gave Gaja and his estate the raw materials for excellent wine, and these wines surpass expectations. They very well could be legendary. Along with this Gaja quartet, I'm equally proud to bring you wines from two other Italian icons: the Antinori family's 2013 Poggio alle Nane, from its Le Mortelle estate on the coastline of the Maremma, and Josko Gravner's textured, almost sinfully delicious 2007 Ribolla Gialla Anfora. These seven wines are all bottles that I look forward to drinking again and again and again. I'm excited to hear what you think of them!

Enjoy!

Today's Featured Sections Include:

1. Spotlight on Excellence:
Angelo Gaja's 2013 Barbaresco Triumph
2. Only At IWM:
Antinori's Outstanding Maremma Coast Super Tuscan
3. Time Sensitive Offer: Josko Gravner's Ripe Ribolla Gialla Jewel
4. Wine Events: Upcoming January Wine Tasting Events

My Best,
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Sergio Esposito
Owner/Founder
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Le Mortelle Poggio alle Nane Maremma Toscana IGT 2013 750ml
Le Mortelle Poggio alle Nane Maremma Toscana IGT 2013 750ml
Price: $74.99

Warm baking spices, freshly tilled loam, crushed violet petals, cigar wrapper, and licorice frame the ripe red and blue fruits in this ’13 Poggio alle Nane--it’s a beautiful effort from Antinori’s estate on the Maremma Coast. 2013 provided Tuscan winemakers with a classic, even-tempered growing year, and this wine reflects its growing year in its silky texture, sneaky power, and finish that balances sweet and savory elements with aplomb. Mostly Cabernet Franc with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes for this wine ferment for almost three weeks in temperature-controlled stainless steel and undergo malolactic fermentation in oak barrels; the wine ages in oak and in bottle for a combination of two years before release.
Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora 2007 750ml
Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora 2007 750ml
Price: $89.99

Orchard and tropical fruits dance with baking spices, underbrush, honeyed citrus, crushed wildflowers and earth in this silky, kinetic ’07 Ribolla Gialla. This amber wine coats the palate with myriad flavors, studs the cheeks with tannins, and unspools to show a mesmerizing texture. Sweet fruit balances with savory herbs and umami in this utterly beguiling, terrifically food-friendly wine. This amber wine is best served like a red, decanted and at cellar temperature; enjoy it with hearty fare--its palate of will stand up to it. Like Gravner’s Breg, a blend of white grapes, this mono-varietal Ribolla Gialla ferments on the skins for about a year in amphora and then ages for a year in cask before bottling. It’s an age-worthy experience in natural winemaking that could only come from the hand of Josko Gravner.
Gaja Barbaresco 2013 1.5L
Gaja Barbaresco 2013 1.5L
Price: $459.00

This is a wine to buy by the case. 2013 threw a lot of wild weather at Angelo Gaja, and this Barbaresco bottling illustrates that he and daughter Gaia handled it with aplomb. Sophisticated and silky, this ’13 Barbaresco frames its pure red and blue fruits with crushed violets, fresh-cut herbs, licorice, sun-warmed earth, and a kiss of kirsch. Wrapping the palate with an energetic yet velvety grip, this wine builds to a crescendo of chewy tannins that are complemented by a sweet inner perfume--it’s outstanding. A mono-varietal Nebbiolo and Gaja’s only wine that adheres to DOCG regimen, this Barbaresco honors Gaja’s winemaking heritage in its blending across fourteen separate vineyards for this bottling. Gaja ferments each vineyard lot separately in temperature-controlled stainless steel for about three weeks, and malolactic fermentation occurs in barrique. After fermentation, the separate wines mature for a year in barrique; Gaja makes its final blend, and the wine ages in botti for another year before bottling.
Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Barbaresco 2013 750ml
Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Barbaresco 2013 750ml
Price: $529.00

Classically structured, brooding, and powerful, the ’13 Sorì San Lorenzo is a towering expression of Nebbiolo. Pure red and blue fruits dance on a bed of fresh-cut herbs, potpourri, crushed rocks, tar and smoke. This is a finessed, gorgeous wine that unfurls on the palate with tantalizing precision as it builds to a lingering finish. The first of the crus to be bottled individually in 1967, Sorì San Lorenzo typically requires the most patience of the three Gaja cru bottlings, but its intense aromatics, velvety mouth-feel and sensuous, complex palate reward a wine-lover’s restraint. 2013 saw the bottling of Sorì San Lorenzo as a mono-varietal Nebbiolo, as Gaja omitted the Barbera component; the grapes for this wine ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; then the wine ages for in a year each in barrique and botti before bottling.
Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco 2013 750ml
Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco 2013 750ml
Price: $529.00

Roses and violet petals guide the succulent, pure red fruits in the nose of this gracious, round Sorì Tildìn, and dark notes of licorice, truffles, and warm cigar wrapper provide a fitting complement. This wine is all about its texture; it wraps the palate with a silky feel that’s studded with chewy tannins that linger on the vibrant, persistent finish. The second single-vineyard Gaja expression to be bottled individually in 1970, Sorì Tildìn became a mono-varietal Nebbiolo in 2013, when the estate dropped the Barbera component that the wine had included since the 1996 vintage. The grapes for this wine ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; then the wine ages in a year each of barrique and botti before bottling. Of the three Gaja single-vineyard Barbaresco wines, Sorì Tildin displays the roundest tasting profile, with a rich body, subtle texture, and fine, ripe tannins; in great vintages this wine will develop for decades.
Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013 750ml
Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013 750ml
Price: $529.00

Dark, juicy red and blue fruits rest in a framework of crushed lavender and roses, sun-warmed earth, wet river rocks, baking spices and cherry cordial in the stellar ’13 Costa Russi. Terrifically structured, this wine shows firm, sophisticated tannins offset by energetic acidity; deceptively powerful, this wine builds to a lingering, satisfying crescendo. The 11-acre Costa Russi vineyard, which sits alongside Sorì Tildìn in Roncagliette, takes its name from the word “costa,” which is the side of a hill that faces the sun and “Russi,” the name of the vineyard’s former owners. A mono-varietal Nebbiolo since 2013, the grapes for this wine ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; then the wine ages in a year each of barrique and botti before bottling.
Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco 2013 1.5L
Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco 2013 1.5L
Price: $1,179.00

Roses and violet petals guide the succulent, pure red fruits in the nose of this gracious, round Sorì Tildìn, and dark notes of licorice, truffles, and warm cigar wrapper provide a fitting complement. This wine is all about its texture; it wraps the palate with a silky feel that’s studded with chewy tannins that linger on the vibrant, persistent finish. The second single-vineyard Gaja expression to be bottled individually in 1970, Sorì Tildìn became a mono-varietal Nebbiolo in 2013, when the estate dropped the Barbera component that the wine had included since the 1996 vintage. The grapes for this wine ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; then the wine ages in a year each of barrique and botti before bottling. Of the three Gaja single-vineyard Barbaresco wines, Sorì Tildin displays the roundest tasting profile, with a rich body, subtle texture, and fine, ripe tannins; in great vintages this wine will develop for decades.
Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013 1.5L
Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013 1.5L
Price: $1,179.00

Dark, juicy red and blue fruits rest in a framework of crushed lavender and roses, sun-warmed earth, wet river rocks, baking spices and cherry cordial in the stellar ’13 Costa Russi. Terrifically structured, this wine shows firm, sophisticated tannins offset by energetic acidity; deceptively powerful, this wine builds to a lingering, satisfying crescendo. The 11-acre Costa Russi vineyard, which sits alongside Sorì Tildìn in Roncagliette, takes its name from the word “costa,” which is the side of a hill that faces the sun and “Russi,” the name of the vineyard’s former owners. A mono-varietal Nebbiolo since 2013, the grapes for this wine ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; then the wine ages in a year each of barrique and botti before bottling.
Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco 2013 3L
Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco 2013 3L
Price: $2,399.00

Roses and violet petals guide the succulent, pure red fruits in the nose of this gracious, round Sorì Tildìn, and dark notes of licorice, truffles, and warm cigar wrapper provide a fitting complement. This wine is all about its texture; it wraps the palate with a silky feel that’s studded with chewy tannins that linger on the vibrant, persistent finish. The second single-vineyard Gaja expression to be bottled individually in 1970, Sorì Tildìn became a mono-varietal Nebbiolo in 2013, when the estate dropped the Barbera component that the wine had included since the 1996 vintage. The grapes for this wine ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; then the wine ages in a year each of barrique and botti before bottling. Of the three Gaja single-vineyard Barbaresco wines, Sorì Tildin displays the roundest tasting profile, with a rich body, subtle texture, and fine, ripe tannins; in great vintages this wine will develop for decades.
Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013 3L
Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013 3L
Price: $2,399.00

Dark, juicy red and blue fruits rest in a framework of crushed lavender and roses, sun-warmed earth, wet river rocks, baking spices and cherry cordial in the stellar ’13 Costa Russi. Terrifically structured, this wine shows firm, sophisticated tannins offset by energetic acidity; deceptively powerful, this wine builds to a lingering, satisfying crescendo. The 11-acre Costa Russi vineyard, which sits alongside Sorì Tildìn in Roncagliette, takes its name from the word “costa,” which is the side of a hill that faces the sun and “Russi,” the name of the vineyard’s former owners. A mono-varietal Nebbiolo since 2013, the grapes for this wine ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; then the wine ages in a year each of barrique and botti before bottling.