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Gaja Sperss (375ML half-bottle) 2008

Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Italy
  • RP96
  • WE95
  • JS94
  • WS94
14.5% ABV
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14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Ruby red in color. The nose shows a dark, pure and very focused fruit with classic hints of tar, licorice and a touch of truffles. Sperss displays the austere character typical of Serralunga terroir: deep structure and lots of ripe tannins. Dense, massive yet seamless, this beautifully integrated wine possesses low acidity as well as a terrific finish.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 96
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2008 Sperss is exotic, dark and totally seductive. Black cherries, mint, licorice, flowers, spices and juniper berries meld together in the glass, all supported by firm, insistent tannins. Today the Sperss has begun to shut down in bottle. It isn't anywhere near as expressive as the Conteisa, but that will come in time. There is so much to look forward to, but readers will have to be patient. In time, the 2008 Sperss will be yet another viscerally thrilling wine. Sperss is made from the Marenca and Rivette vineyards in Serralunga. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2048.
Rating: 96+
WE 95
Wine Enthusiast
Gaja's Sperss was once a Barolo but now occupies a category all its own as a Nebbiolo from the Langhe region—the producer famously declassified his top wines. This shows extreme elegance and sophistication with fine nuances of forest fruit, spice, dried tobacco, licorice and Spanish cedar. The finish is long, polished and bright. Drink after 2020.
Cellar Selection
JS 94
James Suckling
This has a crazy intensity with a big hit of new wood but loads of ripe yet subtle fruit, from plums to dark berries. Full and chewy with round tannins and a long, persistent finish. Turns to licorice and spice in the aftertaste. Better in 2016.
WS 94
Wine Spectator
There's a lot of toasty oak framing the black cherry, tobacco and spice flavors in this suave, powerful red. Balanced overall, with plenty of fruit, but needs time to integrate more fully. Displays a fine mix of fruit and spice on the aftertaste. Best from 2016 through 2035.
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Gaja
Gaja, Piedmont, Italy
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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. Ever since, the winery has been shaped by each generation’s hand, notably that of Angelo Gaja. Under Angelo's direction, the the native Nebbiolo grape was elevated to world-class esteem.

Today, Angelo Gaja, alongside Guido Rivella, his winemaker since 1970, and his daughter, Gaia, advance their 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 the earth, weather and vines upon them, that Gaja wines reveal their true heart.

Piedmont

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Set upon a backdrop of the visually stunning Alps, the enchanting and rolling hills of Piedmont are the source of some of the country’s longest-lived and most sought-after wines. Vineyards cover a great majority of the land area—especially in Barolo—with the most prized sites at the top hilltops or on south-facing slopes where sunlight exposure is maximized. Piedmont has a continental climate with hot, humid summers leading to cold winters and precipitation year-round. The reliable autumnal fog provides a cooling effect, especially beneficial for Nebbiolo, Piedmont’s most prestigious variety.

In fact, Nebbiolo is named exactly for the arrival of this pre-harvest fog (called “nebbia” in Italian), which prolongs cluster hang time and allows full phenolic balance and ripeness. Harvest of Nebbiolo is last among Piedmont's varieties, occurring sometime in October. This grape is responsible for the exalted wines of Barbaresco and Barolo, known for their ageability, firm tannins and hallmark aromas of tar and roses. Nebbiolo wines, despite their pale hue, pack a pleasing punch of flavor and structure; the best examples can require about a decade’s wait before they become approachable. Barbaresco tends to be more elegant in style while Barolo is more powerful. Across the Tanaro River, the Roero region, and farther north, the regions of Gattinara and Ghemme, also produce excellent quality Nebbiolo.

Easy-going Barbera is the most planted grape in Piedmont, beloved for its trademark high acidity, low tannin and juicy red fruit. Dolcetto, Piedmont’s other important red grape, is usually ready within a couple of years of release.

White wines, while less ubiquitous here, should not be missed. Key varieties include Arneis, Cortese, Timorasso, Erbaluce and the sweet, charming Muscat, responsible for the brilliantly recognizable, Moscato d'Asti.

Nebbiolo

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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 Piemontese villages of Barolo and Barbaresco. This finicky grape and needs a very particular soil type and climate in order to thrive. Outside of Italy, growers are still very much in the experimentation stage but some success has been achieved in parts of California. Tiny amounts are produced in Washington, Virginia, Mexico and Australia.

In the Glass

Nebbiolo at its best is an elegant variety with velveteen tannins, mouthwatering acidity and a captivating perfume. Common characteristcs of a well-made Nebbiolo can include roses, violets, licorice, sandalwood, spicebox, smoke, potpourri, black plum, red cherry and orange peel. Light brick in color, Nebbiolo is a more powerful wine than one might expect, and its firm tannins typically need time to mellow.

Perfect Pairings

Nebbiolo’s love affair with food starts in Piedmont, which is home to the Slow Food movement and some of Italy’s best cuisine. The region is famous for its white truffles, wild boar ragu and tajarin pasta, all perfect companions to Nebbiolo.

Sommelier Secret

If you can’t afford to drink Barolo and Barbaresco every night, try the more wallet-friendly, earlier-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba. Also search out the fine offerings of the nearby Roero region. North of the Langhe and Roero, find earthy and rustic versions of the variety (known here as “Spanna”) in Ghemme and Gattinara.

CGM20156_2008 Item# 120660