In her first visit to the Cayman Islands, Gaja Winery’s Gaia Gaja spoke with passion about her love for Barolo and Barbaresco wines – made from the Nebbiolo grape – for which her winery is famed.
“Nebbiolo is the type of wine that needs to be drunk with someone you love,” she said. “In fact, you can never drink wine alone, for if you enjoy a particular wine half the pleasure is sharing the experience with someone!”
Some wines, according to Gaia, require the drinker to dance with them; some wines require you to sit back and just watch the show. Nebbiolo was very much an interactive wine, requiring participation for enjoyment, pouring it into a glass and then leaving it for a while, regularly going back to it until it finds its optimum flavour.
“Nebbiolo grapes create elegant wines, but there are not enough terms in the dictionary to describe the wine,” she says. “It’s more ethereal, more about a sense of style and balance.”
Nebbiolo is a very tricky, picky and unpredictable grape to grow, according to Gaja.
“The vines flower early in the season which makes them vulnerable to frost. They are generally the last grapes to ripen and so the humidity and rain at the end of the season can ruin the crop,” she says, adding that it can come down to picking on the right day as far as whether the vintage will be great or not.
The Gaja Winery was founded by Giovanni Gaja in 1859 and has been owned and operated by five generations of the Gaja family, with Angelo Gaja, Gaia’s father, at the helm.
The Gaja winery owns 250 acres of vineyards in Piedmont, Italy, in the Barbaresco and Barolo districts.
In 1994 the Gaja family broadened its reach by purchasing a wine estate in Tuscany, Pieve Santa Restituta in Montalcino. The property’s 40 acres of vineyards produce two Brunello di Montalcino wines called Sugarille and Rennina. In 1996 Gaja acquired a second property in Tuscany, Ca’Marcanda, located in Castagneto Carducci in Bolgheri. Of the property’s 200 acres, 150 have been planted with new vineyards, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc and Syrah.