On the gate of the Gaja winery it is clearly written: we don't sell wines, don't accept walk-ins and will only accept wine professionals for scheduled visits. The process of scheduling a visit involves filling an online questionnaire that ensures you are not there just for a free sip. From the moment you are in, the hospitality is very friendly and professional. We spent more than an hour with Sonia Franco, learning about the winery's history and wine making process and finally tasting the wines. The hospitality was impeccable.
The winery is very impressive. The wine barrels are stored in the combination of an old cellar - the original Gaja house with additions that were made along the years. This is connected by a tunnel that goes under the main street in Barbaresco to the Barbaresco castle cellar which is owned by Gaja. The tunnel is a modern addition that connects the two old parts by a new and interesting piece of modern architecture and art. When one understands that Angelo Gaja's great grandfather started the winery with probably 1/100 the size of cellar you appreciate the winery even more.
The main motto is: "total dedication to uncompromising quality". This motto was set by Clotilde Rey - Angelo Gaja's grandmother.
Due to our short time, we tasted only two wines:
Wonderful fresh medium color. Layers of casis, coffee, plums, red berries, earth and a tiny bit cranberries. Very good finish. The tannins are still a bit biting, but they will calm down with bottle age. It's an excellent example of what this tough vintage can achieve - production was less than half of the usual level. 93
Langhe Spress 2001
Very dark wine, with earth, plums and some truffles. Overall this wine seems to be in a dump phase right now, as it shows very little fruit. Its very tannic and has a long good finish. Right now I would not give it a score above 88, but it definitely feels that it's a wine that should be tasted again in 5-6 years and re-scored.
Even I preferred to catch the flight and see my kids in favor of more wine. After a great long weekend with my wife, eating the excellent piedmotese food and drinking their fabulous wines. We will be back again!