Angelo Gaja is a real volcano, he is a man who succeeded, thanks to his foresight and determination, to be included in the wine lists of some of most important restaurant in the world. It is a real citizen of the world, he has always believed in the Langhe, as in other Italian territories such as Tuscany, Bolgheri and Montalcino. «I admit I had made in Bolgheri (“Cà Marcanda” winery) and in Montalcino (“Pieve Santa Restituta”) a choice of opportunity. Montalcino and Bolgheri originated a DOCG and a DOC, which are really appreciated on the intentional market, thanks to the requests of many important producers who started the production before I came here. I am aware, after the Tuscany experience, to collect flowers in a gardern which I did not cultivate before. So I have a debt of gratidute». To answer the question about what the wine is for the producers, the undiscussed number one of the Barbaresco replied: «It is the tool which allows us to express personality, vision, family history, “sense of humor”, the soul of places (that the Germans call “Heimat”), sense of revelation (that the Japanese call “Umami”), past and future, gratitude, hospitality… All through an extraordinary messenger, which is the bottle, with the label bearing the name “Gaja” in clearly visible fonts, and the wine it contains must be drunk in companionship, to build social relationships and create sharing. I did not choose what to do in life, it was my father who imposed this job to me and he could not have made a better choice».
From the founder Giovanni to Angelo Gaja, name symbol of the Barbaresco
Piedmont is one of the most important regions for the wine productions, here is where Nebbiolo becomes poetry, but it is not sufficient the soil itself: it is necessary passion and the knowledge of big men. And the name Gaja is certainly part of this category. Angelo Gaja, the grandpa, in the ‘60s renewed the old traditions with new productive techniques: from the abatement of the production per hectare and a greater control of the fermentation temperature, up to a careful control in the use of the “barrique” and the use of longer caps. In this way Gaja kept up with the times, avoiding risk to fossilize on the tradition. A great success, that of Gaja, built with intelligence and intuition, inherited from the rigor and the sacrifices of the predecessors, developed and consolidated in the last years under the lead of Angelo. «My father said to me: who is able to drink wine, the drink which most of all create familiarity, is able to live. The production of wine requires the ability to compare and understand the value of time. It requires 10 months hope, passion, and emergencies to see the harvest. And then, after the harvesting of the grapes, red wines need almost four years in the cellar to reach maturity. Giving the right importance to the time, the wine expresses the winemaker, but producers should be more protected, in particular the artisans, which are not necessarily the small and medium companies. The small enterprises are useful for innovation, because many of them are brave and choose to not product for the market: they can fail, obviously, but If they succeed they create a benefit for all. The little world of wine needs to think different, the innovative experience of Ferrucci Biondi Santi proves it; 280 wine companies of Montalcino have to say thank you to him. An enterprise experience, which today is managed by the French, which should teach to us, as Italians and as Tuscans, to “chew the luxury”. Sometimes we are annoyed by the luxury, but French demonstrate, instead, that there is a large clientele, who is looking for exclusive products. And the “made in Italy” of quality must be also on that market segment».
He left an indelible trace in the world of Barbaresco, which, now, goes on with his sons, but the family “brand” took roots also in the Tuscany oenological territories, famous at international level.
The past as experience and the future as goal…
“Gaja” is a “brand” with 92 property hectares, cultivated in the observance of the nature, with a production of about 350.000 bottle per year. Precious bottles, long neck bottles, which reflect the personality of Angelo Gaja and his personal wine interpretation. During the years he has been helped by his heirs, Gaia, Rossana and Giovanni, who did not show any continuity of the paternal teachings. There is always something new in the winery, far away from the wordiness and approval…«The artisan must produce wines which he loves, then he must be able to describe them to all the others. This last aspect is fundamental», he said with determination. «He is the Mozart of the wines, all the other are Salieri…», said about him Giacomo Tachis, the oenologist who invented the Sassicaia, a very passionate producer: «It is he gasoline for my engine. It is what saves me even in the moments of crisis. In these cases it works as a windscreen wiper. It does not stop the rain, but it keeps you going».
Why the Langhe are a workshop of excellences?
«First of all here there is a unique raw material. Think about Nebbiolo, but also the Gentle Round Hazelnut. And you should not forget that this is the homeland of Cavour, Luigi Einaudi, the crib of those liberal principles which inspired the respect for the public money and commitment. Cavour was born in a rich family, but he died in poverty…the “Ferrero” factory is a model for all companies all over the world thanks to the attention and cured dedicated to its employees».
Climate, sustainability and biodiversity
«Climate is changing. Our country, with about 8.000 kilometres of coast, it is more favored than France and Spain; it enjoys orography , the hilly conformation allows to find fresh climates at high attitude (it is not possible for example in Bordeaux). Italy has many late maturation varieties, which are less influenced by the climate change than the one of France. 2017 harvests show, for those who want to learn, which are the best contrast measures to be taken». What else? Perhaps it is better to end with a maxim: in life it is necessary to have «the courage to think different»..