Gaja “Dagromis” | 538 Wine Notes

Barolo 2012

The Gaja estate was established in 1859 in Barbaresco by Giovanni Gaja. Angelo Gaja represents the 4th generation of family winemakers, taking over the family business in 1970. He is one of the legendary icons of the area promoting modernist efforts that changed the philosophy of winemaking in Piemonte.

After taking over the family business, Gaja says, “The challenge was to maintain the basic power and depth of Nebbiolo while polishing the wines to give them richer color, fuller fruit, better balance, and a more refined style.” Barbaresco and Barolo are home to the region’s most noble and ageworthy red grape: the native Nebbiolo. The thin-skinned Nebbiolo, named for the morning fog (la nebbia) that prolongs the grape’s ripening process in the fall, produces wines of high acid, alcohol and extreme tannin, yet the best examples offer haunting aromatic complexity and great longevity. Nebbiolo’s worth was recognized centuries ago: a 1431 statute of La Morra in the Langhe extracts a punishment ranging from the loss of a right hand to death for uprooting the vine. Nebbiolo from Barolo is purportedly more masculine in style compared to its feminine and perfumed counterpart in Barbaresco.


Angelo Gaja is credited for his modernist innovative thinking, both in the vineyard and cellar. He was responsible for being the first winemaker bringing the practice of small-barrique ageing to Barbaresco in the 1970’s, and consequently, his wines are known for resonating with terroir and opulence. In pursuit of this aim, Gaja replanted many of the vineyards, integrated green-harvesting, installed temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks, and began releasing single vineyard Barbaresco—very innovative in a culture rewarding traditional winemaking practices from generations past. The vineyard complies with biodynamic practices, although the estate is not officially certified.

Gaja is best known for his Barbaresco wines but in 1988 he set course to the region of Barolo when he bought the Sperss vineyard, and again in 1995 when he bought the Gromis estate. It is named after the Gromis family which owned the vineyard in the commune of La Morra throughout the 19th century, before acquired by the Gaja family. It is blended with fruit from another Gaja-owned vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. This wine was first produced in 2001. However, Gaja chooses not to produce vintages that quality is not up to his standard. The wine has a three-week fermentation in staineless steel vats, and ages for one year in small-barriques and another year in large traditional oak barrels.

The wine has a ruby colored core with garnet; swirling aromas of dark cherry, plums, strawberry, roses, licorice, dried herbs, leather, spice, and truffles. Pair with braised beef dishes, hard cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, and goat’s milk cheeses, Truffle Risotto, Veal Ravioli, Italian Charcuterie.

aris hovsepian