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Gaja (wine)

The meaning of «gaja (wine)»

Gaja is an Italian wine producer from the Piemonte region in the district of Langhe, chiefly producing a number of Barbaresco and Barolo wines, and later diversified into Brunello and "Super-Tuscan" production. Its current owner and president Angelo Gaja is credited with developing techniques that have revolutionised winemaking in Italy,[1][2][3][4] and terms such as "the undisputed king of Barbaresco",[5] and "the man who dragged Piedmont into the modern world"[1][6][7] have been applied to him, and whose Barbaresco wine is considered a status symbol on a par with Château Lafite-Rothschild or Krug.[8][9]

Additionally, Gaja Distribuzione imports to Italy high-end wines from elsewhere in the world including Champagne, Sauternes and Bordeaux, Spanish and Californian wine, as well as spirits and glassware.[3]

The Gaja winery was founded in 1859 by Giovanni Gaja, the Gaja family having arrived from Spain during the 17th century.[3][10] The family Gaja opened a tavern in Barbaresco, serving its wines with the food. At the end of the 19th century, Gaja wines were bottled and supplied to the Italian army in Abyssinia.[11]

In 1937, Giovanni Gaja, grandson of the founder, first put the name Gaja in big red letters on his bottles' labels.[6] The firm progressed following World War II as Giovanni Gaja made a significant series of vineyard purchases in terms of scale and vineyard quality. Also cited as an important influence to the firm's early success is the mother of Giovanni Gaja, Clotilda Rey, who instilled the principles of working to achieve high quality to attract the desired clientele, and set high prices to manifest the prestige of the product.[10][11]

Angelo Gaja, (born 1940) great-grandson of Giovanni Gaja, began his career with the company in 1961 at the age of 21.[10] He had completed his studies in wine making at the Enological Institute in Alba and at the University of Montpellier in France, and held a degree in economics from the University of Turin.[3][12] At the time there were only about 100 people producing Barbaresco and Barolo. Thanks to his family's acquisitions, the young Gaja was already a major vineyard owner in Barbaresco.[1]

Following several trips to France and ongoing disputes with his father, Angelo Gaja introduced several practices to the region over the following years that were revolutionary to the vinification of Nebbiolo. In 1961 he began the first experiments with green harvest or diradamento. Single vineyard production was started with Sorí San Lorenzo in 1967, Sorí Tildin in 1970 and Costa Russi in 1978.[1] Since 1970 Gaja has employed the eminent oenologist Guido Rivella.[1][3] Gaja is also credited with introducing to Piemonte malolactic fermentation, from the 1975–1976 vintage implementing French barriques ten years after initial experiments,[10] bringing in thermo-controllable fermentation equipment and French grape varieties, and eventually grand cru prices.[1][12] Giovanni Gaja opposed his son's use of new barriques and the decision to plant French grape varieties.[6]

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