Gaja Costa Russi 2015
#54 Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2019
Costa (Italian for the side of the hill facing the sun) Russi (the nickname of the former owner) is ruby red in color, with a captivating aroma of blackberries, violets and roasted coffee beans. The palate is fleshy, loaded with red and dark berry notes, such as mulberry, red currant, black cherry. The soft and round tannins balance the good acidity and lead to a round palate.
Barbaresco is a great food wine. Traditionally served with roasted braised meat such as beef, pork and boar, Barbaresco is actually very versatile: owing to its high acidity and red fruit profile. It pairs well with roasted chicken, veal, game birds and even seafood. Heartier pasta and risotto dishes are other obvious pairings, as are aged Italian cheeses.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Aromas of rose, violet, red berry and baking spice mingle with a whiff of menthol on the nose of this compelling, gorgeous red. The vibrant, full-bodied palate is all about flair and finesse, delivering crushed raspberry, Marasca cherry, licorice and a hint of tobacco, all framed by taut, fine-grained tannins. Young and intense, it will be ideal after a few more years of aging, but will continue to develop for decades. Drink 2023–2040.
Wow. Such depth in the nose of strawberries, flowers and hints of raw meat. Crushed stones, too. Full body, fine and dusty tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Shows structure and finesse. Drink in 2020.
From a cooler, hillside site to the southeast of the appellation with heavier clay and limestone soils. This expresses a cooler style of Nebbiolo, leaning towards a Pinot Noir flavour profile. It has a floral character with a gorgeous perfume of citrus notes and raspberries. Pure red berry sweetness with succulent, juicy acidity and racy tannins. Stunningly elegant, this is delicious and desirable now. Wonderful to drink or keep. Aged in 30% new oak.
Drinking Window 2018 - 2035
The 2015 Barbaresco Costa Russi was about to be bottled before I tasted it. Like the other wines from this warm vintage, you are treated to extra plushness and roundness with dark berry fruit intensity. This wine also offers unexpected mineral tones that come off as crushed oyster shell and talc powder. These add to the drying, almost nervous, tension you feel in the mouth.
Perched atop a steep hill in the Langhe sits the small village of Barbaresco, home of the GAJA winery. The story of the GAJA Winery can be traced to a singular, founding purpose: to produce original wines with a sense of place which reflect the tradition and culture of those who made it. This philosophy has inspired five generations of impeccable winemaking. It started over 150 years ago when Giovanni Gaja opened a small restaurant in Barbaresco, making wine to complement the food he served. In 1859, he founded the Gaja Winery, producing some of the first wine from Piedmont to be bottled and sold outside the region. Since that time, the winery has been shaped by each generation’s hand, notably that of Clotilde Rey, Angelo Gaja’s grandmother. Her passion for uncompromising quality influenced and informed Angelo Gaja. Through Angelo, these values have become the cornerstone of the GAJA philosophy and are engrained in every aspect of wine production
In 1961, Angelo Gaja began his mission of bringing this great winery to an even higher level. He was the first to use barriques, 225-liter French oak barrels. Under his direction, GAJA pioneered the production of single-vineyard designated wines and was the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varietals in Piedmont. He was also instrumental in elevating the native Nebbiolo grape to world-class esteem.
Angelo Gaja is joined by the fifth generation of the GAJA family – his daughters Gaia and Rossana and his son Giovanni. Together they continue to advance the winery’s legacy. To fully realize their vision, all GAJA wines are produced exclusively from grapes grown in estate-owned vineyards, including 250 acres in Piedmont’s Barbaresco and Barolo districts as well as estates in Pieve Santa Restituta (Montalcino) and Ca’Marcanda (Bolgheri). It is from these storied vineyards, and their terroir – the combination of soil, weather and vines that grow upon them, that GAJA wines reveal their true heart and soul.
A wine that most perfectly conveys the spirit and essence of its place, Barbaresco is true reflection of terroir. Its star grape, like that in the neighboring Barolo region, is Nebbiolo. Four townships within the Barbaresco zone can produce Barbaresco: the actual village of Barbaresco, as well as Neive, Treiso and San Rocco Seno d'Elvio.
Broadly speaking there are more similarities in the soils of Barbaresco and Barolo than there are differences. Barbaresco’s soils are approximately of the same two major soil types as Barolo: blue-grey marl of the Tortonion epoch, producing more fragile and aromatic characteristics, and Helvetian white yellow marl, which produces wines with more structure and tannins.
Nebbiolo ripens earlier in Barbaresco than in Barolo, primarily due to the vineyards’ proximity to the Tanaro River and lower elevations. While the wines here are still powerful, Barbaresco expresses a more feminine side of Nebbiolo, often with softer tannins, delicate fruit and an elegant perfume. Typical in a well-made Barbaresco are expressions of rose petal, cherry, strawberry, violets, smoke and spice. These wines need a few years before they reach their peak, the best of which need over a decade or longer. Bottle aging adds more savory characteristics, such as earth, iron and dried fruit.
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo, named for the ubiquitous autumnal fog (called nebbia in Italian), is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area, as well as in the neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it reaches its highest potential in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. Outside of Italy, growers are still very much in the experimentation stage but some success has been achieved in parts of California. Somm Secret—If you’re new to Nebbiolo, start with a charming, wallet-friendly, early-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba.