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A Family Business: Angelo Gaja

Over 30 representatives of the local trade attended a tasting of newly released Gaja wines with Angelo Gaja hosted by Altaya Wines at the Kee Club in Hong Kong, reports Ivy Ng.

Angelo Gaja captivated his audience at the Gaja tasting in Hong Kong (Photo: Ivy Ng)

Now 75 years of age with a long and distinguished career behind him, Angelo Gaja shows no sign of slowing down, and emphatically assures the audience, “I don’t like to retire”.

The pater familias of the Gaja family is delighted to share with us that his youngest, 22-year-old Giovanni, has shown an interest in the family business and is learning the ropes from his older siblings, Rossana who is responsible for the domestic business and Gaia who is responsible for the international business.

For Angelo, the most important influence on the quality of the wine is the annual weather pattern under the effects of climate change. Soil and grape varieties are the constants. Quality has come with a better understanding of the soil and the vineyard.

Since 1995, he has been applying cow manure to the soil to create humus, facilitating the growth of a healthy population of earth worms that keep working the soil. Biodiversity is important and the cypress trees are perfect habitats. Straw mulch cover helps drainage and prevents soil erosion. He has also engaged seven vineyard consultants to help build this knowledge.

Renowned for his radical ways of introducing temperature control and French barriques for maturation, Angelo referred to himself as an artisan, and passion is the gene of the artisan. Speaking to dbHK, he said that prior to 1966, there was no restriction on grape varieties for Barolo, so a number of the Barolos had Nebbiolo as well as other grape varieties in the blend. The reason he blended a bit of Barbera with Nebbiolo in Conteisa and Sperss was so that he could follow this artisanal origin, and he could fall back on the Langhe DOC.

Speaking with a Maestro-esque theatrical flamboyance, Angelo confided in us an interesting allegory: that Cabernet Sauvignon was like John Wayne, predictable in the way he would dominate the room, and that Nebbiolo was like Marcello Mastroianni in Fellini’s 8 1/2, winning over the ladies in his quiet, sultry and mysterious ways.

Angelo certainly wowed the fans in the trade with his newly released wines. The range of newly released Gaja wines presented to the trade included 2013 Alteni di Brassica (Sauvignon Blanc), 2013 Gaia & Rey (Chardonnay), 2012 Barbaresco, 2011 Conteisa (92% Nebbiolo and 8% Barbera), 2013 Ca’Marcanda Magari (50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc) and 2011 Ca’Marcanda Camarcanda (50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc).

The 2013 Gaia & Rey showed tension and precision, trading the traditional lush structure for heightened minerality with a long crisp finish, and the 2011 Conteisa was a clear winner with the local trade, with freshness, supple tannins and an open velvety texture, bearing the hallmarks of Cerequio (situated between Barolo and La Morra), and the 2013 Magari showed a well-balanced Bordeaux blend, with promise of soft ripe fruit and spicy nuances, very ready to please!

The wines are available at

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