by Juel Mahoney
Gaia Gaja joined us at our Artisan Tasting in Soho last month and we caught up with her to ask about the project and wine Piedmont’s most famous family had decided to make wines in Tuscany.
Can you tell us the story behind the label?
It’s a very dramatic label. It took inspiration from what, for me, is the symbol of the Bolgheri village. If you come to Bolgheri there is a long road connecting Bolgheri village to the seaside – a 5 kilometre road – planted with cypresses to the right and left. It’s a massive work that a noble family called the della Gherardesca family did without seeing the result, because these plants take a very long time to grow.
If you put yourself in front of the road, you will see the big cypresses near you in perspective becoming smaller and the sky becoming bigger again. That is the inspiration that we took for this label.
What was your father’s dream?
We have been in Bolgheri since 1996. It was an idea of my father (Angelo Gaja). It was his dream to create something totally new from the beginning – which is something that is very difficult to do in Italy. In Italy, you inherit, or it is something you buy that already exists.
Ca’Marcanda is the idea and dream of one man, my father. He wanted to choose the land he loved, to plant what he wanted, how he wanted, and make a winery after 40 years of experience as he always dreamed to have. And he came out with Ca’Marcanda.
How are you finding Tuscany after Piedmont?
I am happy there. It took me a little bit to fall in love, actually. It was not the same for my father. I grew up in Barbaresco in love with Nebbiolo, thinking Barbaresco is the best place in the world – maybe it is the best place in the world! – going down to Bolgheri seeing a different nature, different culture, different varieties, everything flat – when in Piedmont with all our hills… it took me a little bit to understand the point of Bolgheri.
Well, now if someone in the family has to move down to Toscana and needs to live near Ca’Marcanda I’m going to raise my hand – I want to be that person! It’s paradise. I work there with a big smile. There’s an incredible light. Everyday there’s… just brightness; we live 5km from the seaside. There’s a great bright light. Then, there’s the incredible nature; that is something missing from Piedmont a little bit… huge thick woods, and you’re between the sea and the woods, making the wines and it is a joy and I hope that you will enjoy the wine.
Our Artisan Tasting was the first time Gaja have presented a vertical tasting of their Ca’Marcanda wines. The wines have an unmistakeable Italian structure of tannins and acidity with a joyous and luxurious feel. Tannins are seamless and are reminiscent of the great wines of Piedmont – the wines have a Barbaresco sensibility crossed with an unmistakeable Tuscan character. It would be too easy to call them Super-Tuscans like their famous neighbours in Bolgheri, Sassicaia and Ornellaia – although compared to some other Super-Tuscans, they are perhaps more Italian than international in style.
Flight 1. Promis IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
2003 Promis IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
Floral notes with a good rich expression and an excellent acidity considering vintage. The freshness and acidity is amazing – the Bordelaise would be been jealous.
2006 Promis IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
Brighter fruit on nose and fine tannins, warm and luscious on palate, smooth and full-bodied, mouth filling with an excellent length on finish.
2010 Promis IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
This is the most balanced and there is confidence in the Bolgheri style. Richer fruit with more Sangiovese expression in this vintage.
Flight 2. Magari IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
Magari means “you bet, you wish” in Piedmontese dialect. Magari is sourced from white and brown soil and it has a rich and deep expression.
2004 Magari IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
This is one of the most celebrated vintages in Bolgheri. Intense joyous fruit. Good fine tannins on finish, few minutes of length, good lick of licorice flavours subtle. The chalky tannins are reminiscent of Piedmont’s great nebbiolo.
2007 Magari IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
This is a warm, velvety and full-bodied wine with Cabernet Sauvignon expression to the fore. Excellent structure to hold opulent fruit.
2010 Magari IGT Toscana Gaja Toscana
A favourite wine of mine (and Gaia Gaja). This is very elegant, perfumed with a brilliant freshness reminiscent of the Italian herbs of lemon verbena. It is an excellent expression of typical Bolgheri.
Flight 3. Ca’Marcanda DOC Bolgheri Gaja Toscana
This is the top, flagship wine of the estate with production limited to 20,000 bottles to keep quality under control. There is a significant step up in quality here and the wines get into their stride after six or seven years.
2000 Ca’Marcanda DOC Bolgheri Gaja Toscana
This is the first vintage produced. Animal and medicinal, it is quite intense but good freshness to the fruit in check. Like entering a night club with heavy velvet curtains - and that sense of adventure and amazement. Not a celebrated vintage, it was almost as warm as 2003, but with ageing it has developed more personality.
2006 Ca’Marcanda DOC Bolgheri Gaja Toscana
Good intensity balanced by this freshness, with intense fruit which could completely overwhelmed the wine under lesser hands than Guido Rivella. It is salty and spicy like caramel ice cream.
2009 Ca’Marcanda DOC Bolgheri Gaja Toscana
Velvety, lush, smooth palate – it is the very best of this part of Italy. The wine feels indulgent and full of joyousness. Excellent aftertaste, this shows a satisfying amount of luxe.
Many thanks to Gaia Gaja for attending our Artisan Tasting at The Gallery Soho.