Lunch began at 2pm and ended around 4:30. The food and service at Ai Fiori are fabulous.
Photos and more details can be found on my website.
- 2004 Gaja Langhe Chardonnay Gaia & Rey - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
[Brought by Gaia. Pop and pour.] Stunning nose of slate, lemon crème brûlée, and a bit of peach. Expansive in the mouth. Just starting to show its stuff. Should continue to improve for another decade. 94-96 (94 pts.)
I presented Gaia with several options for the wines I would bring. When I mentioned these, she jumped at the chance to try them. In its own way, this flight was as special as any of the others.
- 1966 Gaja Dolcetto d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba
[Double-decanted at noon.] Is it a great wine at this point? No, but it is fascinating and it is very much alive. Everyone marveled at its liveliness. Gaia said they may have let this sit on some of the must from the Barbaresco way back then. Appealing smoky, dried cherry nose. Soft in the mouth, but still juicy. Some length on an appealing finish. Gaia is amazed and took the last of this for her father to taste. (90 pts.)
- 1967 Gaja Dolcetto d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba
[Double-decanted at noon.] Sour cherry nose. Bitter in the mouth. Corked? Seems more off than dead. NR (flawed)
- 1965 Gaja Barbera d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
[Double-decanted at noon.] Smoky, mature cherry nose. Surprisingly alive and complex. Long cherry and leaf mulch finish. Fascinating. Again, Gaia says this may have spent some time on Barbaresco must. Whatever it is, it is quite an experience. Gaia took the remains to share with her father. (92 pts.)
The Gaja winery made Barolo from grapes purchased mostly from the commune of Serralunga d'Alba until 1964, then stopped making Barolo to focus on Barbaresco from vineyards that they owned. One of their suppliers of Barolo grapes was Violante Sobrero of Sobrero Filippo e Figli who, at that time, owned a parcel in Monprivato and a parcel in Villero, both in Castiglione Falletto. Violante Sobrero eventually sold these parcels in 1985 to Mauro Mascarello of Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio. Another of their suppliers was Villadoria from whom they bought the vineyards used to make Sperss. These two wines were likely made from these vineyards. Certainly their taste was consistent with these great vineyards.
- 1961 Gaja Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double-decanted at 10am.] Gorgeous nose of caramel cherries. Expansive in the mouth. Medium length. Wow! Still full of life, but no reason to wait. (95 pts.)
- 1964 Gaja Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double-decanted at 10am.] Stunning, ethereal nose of dried cherries. Complex, expansive, appealing sour cherry on long finish. Just wow! What a wine. (97 pts.)
This was a wonderful flight with three distinct Barbarescos from the same vintage. The base Barbaresco is like a blend from all their Barbaresco vineyards. The Barbaresco Infernot is a selection of the best barrels kept in the deepest part of the cellar, essentially a riserva. The 1970 Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn was the first single-vineyard Barbaresco made from this vineyard in the Roncagliette MGA. 1970 was only the 2nd vintage in which Gaja made single-vineyard wines. The 1967 Sorì San Lorenzo was its only predecessor.
- 1970 Gaja Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
[Double-decanted at 10am.] Muted nose of mulch and red fruit. Complex sour cherries and balsam. Gorgeous. (94 pts.)
- 1970 Gaja Barbaresco Infernot - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
[Double-decanted at 10am.] A notable step up from the terrific base Barbaresco. Heavenly nose of smoke and cherries. Complex, long, amazing. Complex and ethereal. Wow! (97 pts.)
- 1970 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
[Double-decanted at 10am.] Ethereal nose. Exquisite palate of cherries and licorice. Heaven in a glass. This was the first vintage of Sorì Tildìn. What an experience. (98 pts.)
These wines were certainly more familiar to me and it was a joy to drink them again. The 1988 Sorì San Lorenzo was better than any bottle I had had before. The two 1989s were sublime, but oh so young. I hope I will live to taste these 1989s in full maturity.
- 1982 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
[Double-decanted at 10am.] Stemmy, austere. Not unappealing, but it doesn't seem right for a 1982. NR (flawed)
- 1988 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
[Double-decanted at 5am.] Has the austerity typical of 1988, but with enough fruit to make it quite appealing. Tannic, but I'm not sure there is a benefit to waiting on this one. I think it is giving all the pleasure it has. So much structure. Enough fruit for now, but will it last? (94 pts.)
- 1989 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
[Double-decanted at 10am.] A big brute of a Barbaresco. Huge, lush, massive, but with great harmony. I would wait at least another decade to open this. 95-97 (96 pts.)
- 1989 Gaja Barolo Sperss - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double-decanted at 5am.] Wow, and I thought the 89 Lorenzo was huge. What a stunning, massive wine. So much potential here. Best 2040-2060. 96-98 (96 pts.)
By popular demand, I pulled this bottle at the last minute before catching my train to NYC. It really was a great way to finish this glorious meal.
- 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Heimbourg Vendange Tardive - France, Alsace
[Pop and pour.] I didn't think I'd be up to this after all the reds, but this was a great way to finish this amazing lunch. Stunningly complex. Honey, flowers, and a bit of caramel. Great! (95 pts.)
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