Gaja Costa Russi 2017
Dark ruby/purple. Beautifully elegant aroma's of violets, red fruits, citrusy notes and spicy plum rise from the glass. The wine has a very clear fruit expression, opening on the palate with red orange, plum and a hint of licorice. The balance between aroma and flavor is striking. Costa Russi, of the three single-vineyards, seems to be the least structured, yet it has remarkable texture, mouth-filling fruit, monumental length and impresses with it's harmony and class. The tannins are firm but velvety, and the wines finishes with notes of dried roses and violets, classic Barbaresco characteristics best expressed in only the very top vintages.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A pretty red with ripe-cherry, strawberry and floral aromas and flavors. It’s full-bodied and very tight with a creamy, polished palate that goes on for minutes. Very fine and polished tannins. Give this two or three years to come more together.
In terms of production numbers, this is one of the smallest vintages we've seen from the Costa Russi vineyard. Thanks to replanting efforts, about half of the old vines were ripped out in 2017 (compared to the 2016 vintage that made 10,000 bottles with the whole vineyard in production). The Gaja 2017 Barbaresco Costa Russi offers a warmer and softer character compared to Sorì San Lorenzo and Sorì Tildìn. Overall, the wine is richer and more textured. I definitely taste the vintage heat with its slightly sweeter and more accessible tones of cherry, cassis and fragrant blue flower. Costa Russi is usually defined by lifted notes of aniseed and sambuco, and you get those here too, although they are a less pronounced in this vintage. This is a balanced and carefully assembled Barbaresco with a lean approach backed by fine tannins and bright acidity.
A dense and very tightly wound style, with the structure offering a firm grip on the well-defined core of rose, cherry, strawberry and currant flavors. Long and resonant on the finish, with an aftertaste of mineral, tobacco and earth. Best from 2023 through 2043.
Perched atop a steep hill in the Langhe sits the small village of Barbaresco, home of the GAJA winery. The story of the GAJA Winery can be traced to a singular, founding purpose: to produce original wines with a sense of place which reflect the tradition and culture of those who made it. This philosophy has inspired five generations of impeccable winemaking. It started over 150 years ago when Giovanni Gaja opened a small restaurant in Barbaresco, making wine to complement the food he served. In 1859, he founded the Gaja Winery, producing some of the first wine from Piedmont to be bottled and sold outside the region. Since that time, the winery has been shaped by each generation’s hand, notably that of Clotilde Rey, Angelo Gaja’s grandmother. Her passion for uncompromising quality influenced and informed Angelo Gaja. Through Angelo, these values have become the cornerstone of the GAJA philosophy and are engrained in every aspect of wine production
In 1961, Angelo Gaja began his mission of bringing this great winery to an even higher level. He was the first to use barriques, 225-liter French oak barrels. Under his direction, GAJA pioneered the production of single-vineyard designated wines and was the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varietals in Piedmont. He was also instrumental in elevating the native Nebbiolo grape to world-class esteem.
Angelo Gaja is joined by the fifth generation of the GAJA family – his daughters Gaia and Rossana and his son Giovanni. Together they continue to advance the winery’s legacy. To fully realize their vision, all GAJA wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown in estate-owned vineyards, including 250 acres in Piedmont’s Barbaresco and Barolo districts as well as estates in Pieve Santa Restituta (Montalcino) and Ca’Marcanda (Bolgheri). It is from these storied vineyards, and their terroir – the combination of soil, weather and vines that grow upon them, that GAJA wines reveal their true heart and soul.
A wine that most perfectly conveys the spirit and essence of its place, Barbaresco is true reflection of terroir. Its star grape, like that in the neighboring Barolo region, is Nebbiolo. Four townships within the Barbaresco zone can produce Barbaresco: the actual village of Barbaresco, as well as Neive, Treiso and San Rocco Seno d'Elvio.
Broadly speaking there are more similarities in the soils of Barbaresco and Barolo than there are differences. Barbaresco’s soils are approximately of the same two major soil types as Barolo: blue-grey marl of the Tortonion epoch, producing more fragile and aromatic characteristics, and Helvetian white yellow marl, which produces wines with more structure and tannins.
Nebbiolo ripens earlier in Barbaresco than in Barolo, primarily due to the vineyards’ proximity to the Tanaro River and lower elevations. While the wines here are still powerful, Barbaresco expresses a more feminine side of Nebbiolo, often with softer tannins, delicate fruit and an elegant perfume. Typical in a well-made Barbaresco are expressions of rose petal, cherry, strawberry, violets, smoke and spice. These wines need a few years before they reach their peak, the best of which need over a decade or longer. Bottle aging adds more savory characteristics, such as earth, iron and dried fruit.
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo, named for the ubiquitous autumnal fog (called nebbia in Italian), is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area, as well as in the neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it reaches its highest potential in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. Outside of Italy, growers are still very much in the experimentation stage but some success has been achieved in parts of California. Somm Secret—If you’re new to Nebbiolo, start with a charming, wallet-friendly, early-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba.