Gaja: Italy’s future lies in white wines

Gaia Gaja, manager of one of Italy’s most prestigious red wine estates, believes the future of Italian wines lies in its white varieties.

Speaking to the drinks business at the Armit offices in London where she launched the 2014 vintage of her three single vineyard Barbarescos, Gaja said:

“The future of Italy lies in white wines. Everyone thinks of us as a red wine making country but we’re surrounded by sea and have so much seafood in our cuisine and the quality of our white wines has improved so much, especially in the south in regions like Campania.

“People don’t think about white wines when they think about Piemonte but our first Gaia & Rey Chardonnay vintage was in 1983.

“The journalists don’t pay a lot of attention to it but it’s been one of the most successful wines we’ve ever made. I think there is incredible ageing potential in our region for whites.

“When our Sauvignon Blanc ages you get notes of mushrooms, honey and petrol like an old Riesling. The wine is held up by its acidity.”

While Gaja recognises climate change as “the biggest challenge” the wine world is facing, she feels it may lead producers all over the world to embrace Italian varieties.

“We need to start reconsidering our parameters. In the past a lack of sugar has been a problem for grape growers but now it’s a lack of acidity. Things are changing rapidly and the majority of vintages are warm now when they were mainly cool in the past,” Gaja told db.

“In Italy we have a few cards to play with climate change that we can use to our advantage – we’re surrounded by water and we have a lot of late ripening varieties, so I think more attention will be paid to these around the world now.

“Italian varieties will become more suitable for planting around the world, which will be a big boost for Italy. Grapes like Aglianico and Nero d’Avola are suited to warm climates,” she added.

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