A big, beautiful bouquet. That's what this wine has. Put this creation in a nice big Riedel, put your nose up to it and see if you can handle it. It is overpowering in the best of ways.
I picked a couple of bottles of the '02 at a discount price, not expecting anything more than something to serve to random guests-only to find that this wasn't some front shelf BS. What struck me first was that I wouldn't have guessed it a Merlot. It has a smooth, yet every so slightly acidic character reminiscent of many of the Italian wines I so love. On the dry side of things, but something anyone can appreciate without being a snob. Personally, i'd rate it at a $10-$15 a bottle range.
I was always a fan of Italian reds, yet find myself searching for the big, dry wines I love via Cali. Then someone gave me a taste of Gaja barbaresco. You don't find this kind of delicate balance of perfection everyday. Dry, tannic, BIG, yet so beautifully refined. No fruity bollocks here, no shortcuts. This is what wine is about. (Now don't get me started on the single vineyard barbarescos...)