Angelo Gaja & Barbaresco: “An Iron Fist In A Velvet Glove”


Arguably Italy’s most famous winemaker, Angelo Gaja’s larger-than-life personality and incredible commitment to quality have helped build the foundations of his country’s modern wine industry. The Gaja family estate was founded in 1859 with just 2 hectares of prime vineyards in Barbaresco, but it was under Angelo’s dynamic leadership from the 1970s onwards that the property began producing world-class wines.

One pioneering change brought in by Angelo was the switch to vinifying and bottling single vineyard Barbaresco plots separately to capture the pure essence of the terroir and characterful Nebbiolo grape. This approach took inspiration from the terroir-driven philosophy found in Burgundy, with Angelo also adapting other French winemaking techniques for his elegant Barbaresco wines including the type of and use of oak barrels. 

Over the years Angelo has put the Barbaresco name on the map for fine wine, and has also made significant investments in Bolgheri and Montalcino in Tuscany. As is so often the case, Gaja’s fame has been stoked by both brilliance and controversy. Some of Angelo’s more divisive decisions include leaving the Barbaresco consorzio and the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay within the Barbaresco appellation. 

More recently Angelo has stepped back from the day-to-day running of the winery to allow his two daughters, Gaia and Rossana, and their younger brother Giovanni to make their own mark on the Gaja brand. Recent changes include a renewed focus on boosting biodiversity on the estate and on sustainability in the vineyards by avoiding synthetic chemical treatments. Angelo’s children have also rejoined the Barbaresco consorzio and now once again label their wines under the region’s DOCG system rather than the generic “Langhe” labelling.

Thanks to our excellent contacts in the Italian wine industry, Oeno has been able to acquire a small allocation of Barbaresco wines from the remarkable 2016 vintage. “Going forward these Gaja wines are expected to rank amongst the estate’s most sought-after,” commented Olivier Gasselin, Oeno’s Head of Trade, “especially given that 2017 will be a much smaller harvest due to the challenging weather conditions that year. All in all 2016 is the vintage of a generation which will compete with the very best in history like the legendary 1961, 1964, 1971, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1990, 1997 vintages.”

Available wines include Barbaresco Sori Tildin 2016 from the warmest of Gaja’s three single-vineyards set on steep and lofty south-facing slopes which makes this charming wine approachable younger, and the extremely ageworthy Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo 2016 which takes years to reach its full potential. 

The third single vineyard Barbaresco is Costa Russi located on the same hill as Sori Tildin, but set on a south-west-facing slope.  “It’s an iron fist in a velvet glove”, explains Olivier Gasselin, “with a charming floral character, suavity and elegance as well as enormous ageing potential.” Also available is Gaja’s village Barbaresco which has long been a benchmark for the appellation and can be purchased in either magnum or standard 750ml bottle.

For further information and to reserve your allocation, please contact your account manager or the Oeno team at

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