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PRODUCER

GAJA PIEDMONT

Since 1970, this Piedmont producer has been equal parts agitator and innovator in the quest for perfection. Angelo Gaja shocked everyone with his introduction of non-indigenous grapes to his family’s Barbaresco vineyards and, later, by including Barbera grapes in Barolos and Barbarescos, instead of toeing the DOC line of 100% Nebbiolo. But, time and again, he has been proved right. Armit Wines has been importing these maverick wines for two decades…

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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR YOU

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Grappa Costa Russi, Gaja Piedmont

Bottle 50cl £45.00

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Image of wine Barbaresco Costa Russi
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Floral, extravagantly perfumed and sensual. This is a textured, sumptuously fruity Costa Russi with a backbone of acidity and minerality which frames and elevates the layered and complex fragrance and silky texture. Extremely evocative, engaging and enticing this really highlights the delicacy of Barbaresco yet still has the grunt, power and sophistication of a Gaja wine. Brilliant.

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Image of wine Barbaresco
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On the nose, the sweet, lifted fragrance of roses slowly unfurls. Behind come the red fruits- pomegranate, red cherry and red currant. There is a crunchiness to the fruit on the attack but then the wine begins to flow smoothly across the palate, showing ripe and finely grained tannins without any austerity. The grip and bite of a classic Nebbiolo...

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2013 Barbaresco, Gaja Piedmont

Bottle 75cl £160.00

Image of wine Barbaresco Costa Russi
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The 2010 retains its personality with intense aromas of sweet cherry and wild strawberries mingled with refined spicy notes. Succulent and rich on the palate, it has a core of ripe red fruits with darker blackberry characters in the background which balance the lovely bright acidity and smooth, integrated tannins. Notes of sweet herbs and some subtle toasty oak on...

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Image of wine Sito Moresco
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An attractive, medium bodied wine with bright red cherry and sweet dark fruits on the nose with notes of tobacco and exotic spice. On the palate, rich dark flavours are balanced by silky smooth tannins and an elegant spicy note on the finish. Perfect for drinking now, it will age well for ten years. Score:

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2011 Sito Moresco, Gaja Piedmont

Bottle 75cl £35.69

Image of wine Roero Arneis
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Dark, straw-yellow colour. Intense, fine and elegantly fruity bouquet reminiscent of peach, apricot, citrus, fruit and acacia flowers. Fresh and fragrant flavour with soft plentifulness.
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2016 Roero Arneis, Bruno Giacosa

Bottle 75cl £24.00

Image of wine Dolcetto d'Alba
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Ruby red colour with violet reflections. Winey and fragrant bouquet. Dry and full flavour with a pleasing, bitterish aftertaste typical of this variety.
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Grappa Sito Moresco

Gaja Piedmont

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Case 6 x 50cl £240.00

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Grappa Costa Russi

Gaja Piedmont

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Bottle 50cl £45.00

Case of 6 £270.00

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Grappa Costa Russi, Gaja Piedmont

Bottle 50cl £45.00

2011 Sito Moresco

Gaja Piedmont

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Bottle 75cl £35.70

Image of wine Sito Moresco
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TASTING NOTES

An attractive, medium bodied wine with bright red cherry and sweet dark fruits on the nose with notes of tobacco and exotic spice. On the palate, rich dark flavours are balanced by silky smooth tannins and an elegant spicy note on the finish. Perfect for drinking now, it will age well for ten years. Score:

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2011 Sito Moresco, Gaja Piedmont

Bottle 75cl £35.69

2010 Barbaresco Costa Russi

Gaja Piedmont

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Magnum 150cl £569.20

Image of wine Barbaresco Costa Russi
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The 2010 retains its personality with intense aromas of sweet cherry and wild strawberries mingled with refined spicy notes. Succulent and rich on the palate, it has a core of ripe red fruits with darker blackberry characters in the background which balance the lovely bright acidity and smooth, integrated tannins. Notes of sweet herbs and some subtle toasty oak on...

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2015 Alteni Di Brassica Sauvignon

Gaja Piedmont

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Bottle 75cl £105.00

Case of 6 £630.00

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2014 Barbaresco

Gaja Piedmont

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Case 6 x 75cl
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Image of wine Barbaresco
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Elegant and perfumed with lovely vibrant fruit, the 2014 has an energetic bouquet with crunchy cherry fruits. On the palate refreshing red berry flavours balance darker and sweeter herb characters which emerge from the glass while fine tannins provide length and definition. A classically structured wine with succulent flavours, it will be delicious from release but will also age well. ...

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2013 Barbaresco

Gaja Piedmont

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Bottle 75cl £160.00

Image of wine Barbaresco
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On the nose, the sweet, lifted fragrance of roses slowly unfurls. Behind come the red fruits- pomegranate, red cherry and red currant. There is a crunchiness to the fruit on the attack but then the wine begins to flow smoothly across the palate, showing ripe and finely grained tannins without any austerity. The grip and bite of a classic Nebbiolo...

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2013 Barbaresco, Gaja Piedmont

Bottle 75cl £160.00

2013 Conteisa

Gaja Piedmont

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Case 6 x 75cl
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Image of wine Conteisa
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Delicate and refined with lovely pure fruit and great length, the bouquet opens with notes of delicate cherries and a hint of crushed raspberries and rose petals. The palate is elegant and appealing with succulent red berry fruits balanced by a vibrant freshness and refined, silky tannins. Hints of sweet herbs and a delicate balsamic note on the finish add...

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2013 Sperss

Gaja Piedmont

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Case 6 x 75cl
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The Sperss is richer and deeper than the Conteisa with a slightly firmer character. An expansive bouquet of dark cherry fruits with notes of exotic spice, fresh pepper and sweet herbs leads to a succulent palate with velvety tannins and vibrant red berry flavours. A wine which displays both the power and intensity of the Serralunga vineyard with the finesse...

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2011 Barbaresco Costa Russi

Gaja Piedmont

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Case 6 x 75cl £1,800.00

Image of wine Barbaresco Costa Russi
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Floral, extravagantly perfumed and sensual. This is a textured, sumptuously fruity Costa Russi with a backbone of acidity and minerality which frames and elevates the layered and complex fragrance and silky texture. Extremely evocative, engaging and enticing this really highlights the delicacy of Barbaresco yet still has the grunt, power and sophistication of a Gaja wine. Brilliant.

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2014 Barbaresco Costa Russi

Gaja Piedmont

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Case 6 x 75cl
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Gaja’s Costa Russi is usually the most aromatic and elegant of the three single vineyard wines with a finer structure. The 2014 retains its personality with an expansive bouquet of wild berries mingled with rose petals and an attractive balsamic note. Succulent and rich on the palate, it has a core of sweet red fruits with darker mulberry and...

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2014 Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn

Gaja Piedmont

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Case 6 x 75cl
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Image of wine Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn
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Gaja’s wines reach their pinnacle in this quintessential expression of Nebbiolo with its fragrant aromas, magnificent depth and excellent definition. The 2014 is a beautiful wine with a complex bouquet of raspberries, wild strawberries and dried roses mingled with hints of exotic spices and sweet herbs. On the palate, there are layers of sweet red fruits with a core of...

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If there had been an Italian edition of Punch, there could have been a wonderful HM Bateman-style cartoon in a 1970s edition, called The Man Who Planted Cabernet Sauvignon In Piedmont. Having joined the family estate in 1961, Angelo Gaja took the reigns a decade later and horrified everyone (including his father) by planting the berry of Bordeaux, as well as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, alongside the indigenous Nebbiolo. Ironic then that he came to be known as the producer of arguably the finest Barbaresco in Langhe.

The Gaja family arrived in Piedmont from Spain in the 17th century and, in the 19th century, opened a taverna and winery in Barbaresco. In the 20th century, Angelo’s grandmother Clotilde Rey urged his father Giovanni to raise the quality of Gaja wines. Giovanni did that in the 1960s by acquiring some of the best Nebbiolo vineyards in the area - including Sorì San Lorenzo, Sorì Tildìn and Costa Russi. And both Angelo and his daughter Gaia Gaja, along with oenologist Guido Rivella and his apprentice turned successor Alessandro Albarello, have taken techniques to ever more advanced levels.

Angelo had travelled widely - particularly in France - for his oenology studies, and decided to apply what he’d learnt. The decision to plant non-native varietals came not on a rebellious whim, but after rigorous scientific analysis of the vineyards. Even so, his father was unimpressed - and, later, Angelo named his Cabernet Sauvignon-led wine “Damargi”, after the Piemontese expression for “What a shame”, the phrase muttered by his father every time he walked past that parcel where Nebbiolo once had grown.

However, this was only one of Angelo’s innovations. He introduced denser planting but reduced yields - particularly by green harvesting. In the winery, things changed too. Temperature-controlled vinification, short maceration, skin contact depending on the vineyard, malolactic fermentation and the use of barriques - made by a local cooperage from new French oak - before wines are transferred to the traditional, larger botte. The idea is to take the might and depth of Nebbiolo and knock off the rough edges to create something more refined.

His next surprising step was to blend some Barbera with Nebbiolo. As a result, many of Gaja’s best wines are not allowed to be called Barbaresco. Instead, they are released as single vineyard wines under the Langhe DOC - Costa Russi, Sorì San Lorenzo and Sorì Tildìn. Gaja has done the same with Barolo, in the shape of Sperss and Conteisa.

Angelo has been a key figure in the Barolo Wars. The pro-tannin, pure-Nebbiolo traditionalists would say he’s not on their side, but he believes he is actually truer to the old ways than they are, claiming that up until the 1960s, neither of the great Piedmont appellations were always single-grape wines and that Nebbiolo often needed the balancing acidity, intense aroma and low tannin of Barbera or, alternatively, the astringency and fruit of Dolcetto. Like the Super Tuscan producers further south, he feels the DOC restrictions are an impediment to his search for perfection. (Albeit, Gaja has always maintained a Dagromis Barolo as well as the DOC Barbaresco - to prove he can produce 100% Nebbiolo wines as well as, if not better than, anyone else.)

However, Angelo’s daughter Gaia is as strong a personality as her father and decided that from the 2013 vintage, the three single vineyard wines from Barbaresco - Costa Russi, Sorì San Lorenzo and Sorì Tildìn - should return to DOC status. This time, the patriarch has not resisted the decisions of the younger generation!

And what of the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc plantings? The former makes up Gaia & Rey - malolactic fermentation, six to eight months en barrique - in tribute to Angelo’s daughter and grandmother. (His other daughter, Rossana, is championed by another wine, from a more recent Chardonnay planting, Rossj Bass Langhe.) The Sauvignon Blanc is found in a silky, complex wine usually with wild herbs and the brightest of citrus and white stone fruit. Gaja is also a major grappa producer, with spirits distilled from the individual wines.

The Gaja name has spread beyond Piedmont, too. With the acquisition of  Pieve Santa Restituta, Montalcino, in 1994 (read more here) and Ca'Marcanda, Bolgheri, in 1996, Gaja now produces more wine in Tuscany than in its home province. And, in 2017, the company announced a joint venture with Alberto Graci on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily. Armit Wines will be following developments closely and you might see these on our list in future years, alongside Gaja’s Piedmont production, which we’ve brought to the UK exclusively for the past two decades - 2017 marks 20 years of this great relationship. 

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7908 0655 web@armitwines.co.uk

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