Italy’s 10 leading fine white wines7th February, 2013 by Rupert Millar
1. Gaja, Gaia & Rey Chardonnay Langhe
Grape variety: Chardonnay
Classification: Langhe DOC
Average price per bottle: £117
Angelo Gaja, revered for his Barolos, has gone on record before as saying that Italy’s wine future would owe much to white wine.
This is largely disputed – viz Berry Green at the beginning of this piece – but there is no doubt that Gaja is out to raise the profile of Italian whites and is prepared to give outside varieties a chance among the plethora of native Italian ones.
The Chardonnay was planted in 1979 and was, yet another, project of which his father disapproved, the first being the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon in the subsequently named Darmargi (“What a shame”) vineyard that had traditionally been reserved for Nebbiolo.
Gaja argued at the time that he wanted to make a white wine but the local variety, Arneis, wasn’t allowed in the Langhe DOC.
Chardonnay was so he planted it – still against his father’s advice that all Italian wine should be made with native grapes.
Then again he had also said that Italian wine should all be red, so that particular caveat had already been disregarded.
The vineyard and wine, is named after Gaja’s daughter, Gaia, and grandmother.
Robinson praised the 1994 (17 points) when she tasted it in 2009, which, while not as complex as white Burgundy after 15 years, was considerably fresher.
Galloni meanwhile has called various vintages, “refined” (2006 – 92 points), “blockbuster” (1990 – 93 points) and “Meursault-like” (2001 – 91 points).
It’s average price is in direct correlation to the family’s well-founded viticultural prestige.