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September 03, 2007

04 Gaja, Langhe Sito Moresco

For all the criticism Gaja gets in shucking tradition, this wine is incredibly boastful of terroir. It just depends what your definition of terroir is. Sito Moresco sits on the southern and southwesterly slopes of the Langhe, where the grapes bake in the sun and the vines marinate on the loose marly clay--as if the ground might suck them up for itself at any moment. And while the blend is barely a third nebbiolo, it's pretty characteristic for Barolo--at least if the jammy 2000 vintage is still fresh in your mind. No doubt this is more a recipe than it is a prosopopoeia of anything Italian. But the Tuscan-style cab and merlot are as home here as salt on chicken, herbs de Provence on spring lamb. Rich, robust on the palate, the "declassified" (read: disowned) Langhe swims between flavors of thick black cherries (the nebbiolo), blueberries (the merlot), and chocolate-covered-espresso-stuffed raspberries (the inky cabernet). Yeah, not really Barolo in any way, I guess. Actually, pretty Bordelais. But, take a whiff. For a moment, despite all that's not classically Langhe in this wine, the aroma is strikingly mature, with so much old-Barolo-style tar that I begin to think the nose of a great wine must depend more on soil than fruit alone. How else could this wine smell so much like nothing else? Until, of course, the rank equipage of leathery cabernet comes through. Saint-Julien in sheep's clothes. All right, all right. Some wines have song, some wines have dance. Gaja is a Broadway show.


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