2016 Gaja Barolo Sperss

Year: 2016
Appellation: Piedmont
Country: Italy
Wine Advocate: 100
Vinous Media: 93
James Suckling: 97
Jeb Dunnuck: 100
Wine Enthusiast: 99
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
Price :
$269.95
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NEW LIMITED RELEASE!

"The golden touch, that proverbial Gaja magic, is taken to a whole new level in the 2016 Barolo Sperss. Angelo Gaja has taught his children to follow their own path, and now that the generational switch is well underway at the family estate, we can see that Gaia, Rossana and Giovanni have done him proud. Very proud. This stunning expression from the 2016 vintage (with 16,000 bottles released) represents quite a few celebratory milestones. We are now in the fifth generation to protect the Gaja legacy in an unbroken family chain that has endured since 1859. This wine is 100% Nebbiolo, and since the 2013 vintage, it is part of the Barolo DOCG appellation. Winemaking has been tweaked to embrace a more elegant, ethereal and streamlined personality, instead of the bigger extraction we saw in the past. This upgraded identity is distinctly evident in this newest release of Sperss. Starting with appearance, the wine is luminous and bright with shiny ruby and garnet gemstone. Its aromatic reach is three-dimensional with width, height and depth. Delicate berry tones cede to pressed lilac, anise, sandalwood and cardamom spice. I double decanted and left the bottle open for a few hours before my tasting. The results are tight and gentle, and the wine shows beautiful vertical lift and intensity. To achieve this much power without the excess fruit weight is really quite an accomplishment. This is the magic of Nebbiolo, and the magic of Gaja.

I have almost always tasted new releases of Gaja in person at the winery in the company of Gaia Gaja or someone else from her family. Obviously, these on-site visits offer a better opportunity to report findings, ask questions, make vineyard visits and collect all kinds of interesting news, facts and quotes. Because of COVID-19, I tasted these samples at home under ideal circumstances that allowed for consistency of serving temperatures, stemware and decanting. I was also able to spend more time with each bottle in front of my laptop to muse and reflect, and I returned to many of these wines over multiple days to chart their evolution. Tasting at home allowed me more time to revisit my notes and tweak my comments. This relaxed approach made this year's tasting of Barolo and Barbaresco one of the most enjoyable of my career, and one of the most beautiful wines discovered in this tasting of 900-plus samples is Gaja's 2016 Barolo Sperss. " (WA)

"The 2016 Barolo Sperss is powerful, wild and savory. It is also much more translucent and Nebbiolo-classic than in the past. Dried herbs, menthol, pine, spice and licorice give Sperss a good deal of aromatic complexity. Today, the 2016 is very shut down and reticent. It will be interesting to see what time brings, and specifically, if Sperss gains more flesh in bottle. At this stage it is light, uncharacteristically so, for a wine that has typically exhibit much more brawn." (VM)

"Very floral and refined with dried cherry, strawberry, smoke and spice. Some tile and toffee. Fascinating aromas. Full-bodied and very tight with a solid core of polished tannins that are so creamy and beautiful. Tight and reserved with really wonderful length and focus. Try after 2023." (JS)

"As with the 2015, the 2016 Barolo Sperss is a perfect wine. Deep ruby-hued, it boasts a gorgeous perfume of cherry and blueberry-like fruits that are interwoven with notes of tobacco, violets, crushed stone, and licorice. This carries to a magical, full-bodied, powerful wine revealing flawless tannins, off-the-charts purity, and a finish that just about won't quit. From an incredible vintage for Piedmont, this has everything: awesome purity of fruit, power without weight, building yet ultra-fine tannins, notable freshness, and the class to drink well today yet age gracefully for 30-40 years." (JD)

"Cellar Selection, Rose, iris, red berry and camphor mingle with a whiff of dark spice on this gorgeous, radiant red. Firmly structured but also boasting extraordinary finesse, the chiseled palate delivers ripe morello cherry, crushed raspberry, star anise and tobacco set against a backbone of taut fine-grained tannins. Vibrant acidity keeps it well balanced and energized. Drink 2024–2046. -Kerin O’Keefe " (WE)

Winery Notes:
Sperss is a term affectionately used to denote nostalgia for precious things lost with time - an homage to the origins of the winery and the generations who built it. When the Gaja family decided to stop acquiring fruit from the other growers and bottle only estate-grown grapes, in 1961, it was a bold and difficult move. It would help to ensure a high standard of quality, but it also meant that for the first time in the winery's history, it would not be able to produce a Barolo. In 1988, nearly three decades after that fateful decision was made, the GAJA winery purchased a 30-acre farm in Serralunga d'Alba and rechristened it Sperss.