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Gaja

Each generation of the Gaja family have been innovators, bringing something new to the table since they arrived from Spain in the 17th century. They opened a tavern in Barbaresco, bottling their own wine by the 19th century, and in 1859 Giovanni Gaja founded Gaja, a name that would resonate down the centuries. Giovanni made significant vineyards acquisitions, including the three Cru Barbaresco vineyards that Gaja would later become famous for: Sori San Lorenzo, Sori Tildin and Costa Russi. Giovanni's mother, Clotilda Rey, also instilled the importance of achieving high quality and set high prices to demonstrate the prestige of the Gaja wines. The business remains family owned, run today by Angelo Gaja, the great grandson of the founder, assisted by his daughters Gaia and Rossana, and son Giovanni. Angelo completed his winemaking studies at the Oenological Institute in Alba, and at the University of Montpellier in France, and also gained a degree in economics from the University of Turin. He was a committed pioneer with a dynamic personality, and following several trips to France began to introduce winemaking practices which were at the time revolutionary in Piedmont, beginning with green harvesting in 1961. He started Barbaresco single vineyard production in 1967, beginning with Sori San Lorenzo, followed by Sori Tildin in 1970 and Costa Rossi in 1978. He is credited with introducing malolactic fermentation to the region and, from the 1975 vintage after 10 years of experimentation, French barriques were introduced for ageing. He brought thermo-controllable fermentation equipment from France along with French grape varieties, and following his great great grandmother's example, Grand Cru prices were set. Piedmont's traditions are deeply rooted and many criticised Angelo initially, including his own father. But Angelo was convinced that the the only way to show the world that Italy was capable of producing great wines, was to make a Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French barriques, and then he would be able to follow this up by demonstrating globally the greatness of Italian indigenous grape varieties. So in 1988 the Darmaji vineyards in Barbaresco were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Chardonnay in the Gaia & Rey vineyard in Treiso in 1979, and Sauvignon Blanc in the Alteni di Brassica vineyard in Barbaresco in 1983. Planting non-indigenous vines on Barbaresco land was perhaps his most controversial move. But Angelo's anarchy paid off in dividends and he has been hailed as the “undisputed king of of Barbaresco” and “the man who dragged Piedmont into the modern world”. Now over 100 hectares in the Langhe in the Barbaresco (Barbaresco and Treiso) and Barolo (Serralunga d'Alba and La Morra) districts are under vine divided into 32 different plots. The wines are made with meticulous attention to detail with judicious use of oak. Although Barbaresco are Gaja's flagship wines there are other superb offerings in their portfolio. In 1994 Gaja acquired the Pieve Santa Restituta estate in Montalcino, where magnificent Brunellos are produced, and in 1996 they purchased the Ca'Marcanda estate in Bolgheri, where Gaja's Super Tuscan wines are crafted. Angelo Gaja is credited with transforming the image and reputation of Piedmont wines – the name of Gaja evokes excellence, and their refined and polished wines speak for themselves.