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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tuscany Uncorked: 2006 Gaja Ca' Marcanda Promis

It has been said, "A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur a statement of which I whole heartily concur. It's with that in mind, that I wanted to put this wine in the review spot-light.
The first time I had the pleasure of running into this little beauty, was while dining with my wife at this lovely little restaurant in the town of Castelleni in Chianti, SI.

I was going over the wine-list, stopped when I saw GAJA next to the description, because that was all the decision making I needed to make for our dinner plans 
that evening. If you're familiar with the name GAJA, often described as the Crown Prince of Italian wine, Angelo Gaja then you know why my decision was so easily made.

Angelo Gaja, owner and president of Gaja Wines Estate, he is a fourth-generation Piedmontese winemaker, who has said that; "Cabernet is to John Wayne, as Nebbiolo is to Marcello Mastroianni".  He's also internationally acknowledged as one of Italy's greatest winemakers and one of the world's top wine making geniuses and has been responsible for many bold innovations in the vineyards and the cellars. Frankly, I was "new" to this particular label at the time, but I was very familiar with the reputation of Gaja wines. Which of course are very well known by a majority of wandering winos, Angelo has a reputation in wine making circles that has earned him the title, "Crown Prince of Italian Wine".

Many of his other wines are difficult if not impossible to come by unless you know where to look and have sufficient disposable income. I know of few places here in San Diego which carry these wines on a regular basis, if you're interested. Even if you are able to put your hands on a few bottles, as I've mentioned already your wallet will take a big hit to get those other labels into your collection. As the average price per bottle is well over $165.00 each, wines that happen to be above my pay-grade. To see a list of wine they have available for sale, click here for current prices, Gaja Winery, Italy: Current Releases.

For the more frugal shoppers in the audience, count me in by necessity, there are two other Bolgheri wines (by GAJA) produced starting at or around $40.00 price point. Those are the Promis, Magari, both are blends, using mainly Bordeaux varietals [talking Cab. Sauv and Merlot]. You'll find that these wines come from an ideal terroir, smart use of clones, the right yeast, and barrel selection producing excellent wines with nearly limitless ageing potential, wines that lend themselves to many nearly effortless food pairing opportunities.

If you're looking for a little more insight into why GAJA is so highly regarded and sought after as described above, please pop over to Vinography. Alder is quoted to say it this way; "One reason for his celebrity status is that as opposed to the great Chateaux of Bordeaux which produce tens of thousands of cases of their top wines each year, Gaja produces its DOCG and single vineyard wines in quantities that range from a few thousand to a mere one thousand cases." it would appear Mr. Gaja, is doing more with less.

Swirl: Light garnet core and transparent cerise colored rim and in the glass it appears to be full to medium-bodied.

Sniff: Bright and fruity with a jammy nose, with expressive notes of lush modern blackberry and cassis fruit mingling nicely with the cola aromas.

Slurp: A wonderful wine, which combines the elegance and round mouth feel of Merlot and Syrah with the restraint of Sangiovese. This wine is what I would call balanced, like your favorite song, it's a pleasure to drink from an early age, and pairs nicely with many Italian inspired meals. The 2006 Promis features well integrated tannins and a lush but firm finish with aging potential of 5-8 years.

The Blend: The 2006 Promis is a tasty blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, and 10% Sangiovese. Promis represents the combination of grapes from Gaja's two Tuscan estates, Merlot and Syrah come from Ca'Marcanda and Sangiovese from Pieve Santa Restituta. The blend will vary from year to year depending on what's available for blending and the winemakers discretion.

The Vineyards: As mentioned earlier the fruit which represents this wine is harvested from two of Gaja's Tuscan estates, the Merlot and Syrah come from the Ca'Marcanda Estate and Sangiovese comes from Pieve Santa Restituta.

ABV and Price: I'm pretty sure the wine weighed at believe around 13.5%. The selling price of this wine varies greatly and currently the Costco here in San Diego has the 2008 which was still very tight when I opened it six months ago. The savvy shopper can find this wine online, selling anywhere from a high of $50.00 to $34.99 each and reeled in a half-case from my friends at the San Diego Wine Company. When I was in Tuscany, I paid 35 Euro which is about $55 U.S. their restaurant wine list price, which is not a crazy markup.
Where to Buy: The Wine and Cheese Place is selling this wine for $36 each plus shipping and with no taxes if you live outside of MO. Wine-Searcher shows a local place here, called the The Wine Connection, San Diego which was selling it for about $40 bones. It appears many folks won't have this vintage in stock any longer however you can get the 2008 at your local Costco [Item #16673], either way get your hands on this wine and enjoy.

Pairing Recommendations: If it were me, I'd serve this wine with fine Italian cuisine, especially veal chops, Chicken Milanese on a bed of pasta. Perhaps a bit of braised rabbit or wild boar which is popular in many Tuscan restaurants.

Recommendations: This wine represents a great buy in my opinion; I would definitely put it on my wine-shopping list. Especially so, if you're a fan of fine Italian Cuisine and like to pair local wine with local cuisine. Just taking a quick look around the web I've seen many wine reviews; proclaiming the 2006 Promis as one the best in recent memory. If you're still lucky enough to find the 06, grab all you can. Costco is sitting on a boat load of the 2008 and is selling for just under $40.

It's funny to me that the folks at Costco don't even know that this wine is considered a "Super Tuscan" and even funnier that in their Costco Connection Magazine November 2011 edition they make the claim that ST's are so expensive, but the sell the 2008 Promis pretty inexpensively. So glad the author knows what she doing [wink]. Until next time my friends sip long and prosper, cheers!

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