TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

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Ken V
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TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#1 Post by Ken V » June 7th, 2019, 3:26 pm

Gaia Gaja, daughter of Angelo Gaja, was in town for the Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience. She had limited free time but was able to get together for lunch on Friday, October 19, 2018. Her presence, a great group of friends, and an amazing set of wines turned this into one of the most special wine meals of my life.

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.

Starter
  • 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.)
Old "Lesser" Wines
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.)
Old Barolo
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.)
1970 Barbaresco
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.)
Nebbiolo from the 1980s
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.)
Dessert
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. Not much more I can say. Special in every way.

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Last edited by Ken V on June 10th, 2019, 6:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#2 Post by Mattstolz » June 7th, 2019, 3:39 pm

I was lucky enough to get to try that 1970 Infernot not too long ago and I agree with your notes 100%. such a fantastic bottle.

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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#3 Post by Doug Schulman » June 7th, 2019, 3:43 pm

Wow, what a lunch! Thanks for posting. Your notes and commentary are so interesting.
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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#4 Post by Joshua Kates » June 7th, 2019, 3:51 pm

Great notes, Ken,

Sound like amazing wines; were they all supplied by you, except for the first?
Just an aside, and I'm sure she's a wonderful and lovely woman, but when I hear
Gaia Gaja, daughter of Angelo Gaja
I can help but think of Major Major Major Major.

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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#5 Post by Ken V » June 7th, 2019, 4:08 pm

Joshua Kates wrote:
June 7th, 2019, 3:51 pm
Great notes, Ken,

Sound like amazing wines; were they all supplied by you, except for the first?
Just an aside, and I'm sure she's a wonderful and lovely woman, but when I hear
Gaia Gaja, daughter of Angelo Gaja
I can help but think of Major Major Major Major.
No, I brought 6 bottles including the 70 and the 70 Infernot. Gaia brought the chardonnay. Danny & Amanda Moritz brought the 1970 Tildin and both Barolos. Others brought the wines from the 80s and 90s.

I do remember Catch 22.
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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#6 Post by Steve Nordhoff » June 8th, 2019, 7:52 am

Awesome! Thanks Ken!
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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#7 Post by Mike Evans » June 10th, 2019, 6:39 am

Thanks for sharing the notes and the experience. One question, though. You describe the 1961 Barolo as “Explansive in the mouth.” Typo or portmanteau?

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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#8 Post by Ken V » June 10th, 2019, 6:41 am

Mike Evans wrote:
June 10th, 2019, 6:39 am
Thanks for sharing the notes and the experience. One question, though. You describe the 1961 Barolo as “Explansive in the mouth.” Typo or portmanteau?
LOL! typo.
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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#9 Post by Markus S » June 10th, 2019, 8:29 am

Her parents loved her so much, they named her Twice! Despite the spelling, wouldn't it be pronounced the same?
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Re: TN: FWG Lunch with Gaia Gaja

#10 Post by Ken V » June 10th, 2019, 8:40 am

Markus S wrote:
June 10th, 2019, 8:29 am
Her parents loved her so much, they named her Twice! Despite the spelling, wouldn't it be pronounced the same?
Yes. J is no longer a letter in Italian. I think it is only allowed in existing family names like Gaja. Even the family name of the family that owns Vajra is Vaira.
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