Tuscany Uncorked: 2006 Gaja Ca' Marcanda Promis

"A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

I originally wrote this article back in 2009, just on the heels of my trip to the Chianti region a year earlier; where my wife and I stayed on a vineyard in the town of Castellini in Chianti during harvest in sweltering temperatures. Seeing its Merlot appreciation month and the wine in the review below is blended with Merlot as the lead grape, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to see an earlier version of my review style. A throwback Monday if you will and at the same time serve as a reminder of one of the better wine bargains from the famed Gaja Wines Estate, enjoy. 

I couldn't agree more, the liquid mentors have much to say about the immaterial aspects or essence of human interactions and the sometimes transactional nature of our world, in vino veritas. It's with that quote in mind from Mr. Pastuer that I put the 2006 Gaja Ca' Marcanda Promis in today's review spotlight. The first time I had the pleasure of running into this little beauty, was while dining with my wife at this lovely little roadside diner in the town of Castellini in Chianti, Italy. I was going over the wine list and 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 winemaking 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 winemaking circles that has earned him the title, "Crown Prince of Italian Wine."

Many of his other wines can be difficult to come by unless you know where to look and have sufficient disposable income to spare for such wine luxuries. Even if you are able to put your hands on a few bottles, the average price per bottle is well over $165.00 each, a princely sum indeed. 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 (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 aging 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. Mr. Yarro 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."  from Mr. Yarro's take, and numerically speaking it would appear, Mr. Gaja, is doing more with less.

In the glass: Light garnet core and thin cerise colored rim and in the glass, it appears to be full to medium-bodied. On the nose: Bright and fruity with a jammy nose, with expressive notes of lush modern blackberry and cassis fruit mingling nicely with the cola aromas. On the Palate: An excellent wine, which combines the elegance and round mouthfeel of Merlot and Syrah with the rustic restraint of Sangiovese. This wine is what I would call 'balanced,' like a fine Bourbon, 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 an 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 winemaker's 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 in at around 13.5% abv. The selling price of this wine varies greatly, the availability of these vintages reviewed is unlikely or will be hard to come by. The Promis 2008 which I purchased in San Diego was still very tight when I opened it six months ago, so more cellar time is recommended.

The savvy shopper can find this wine online, selling anywhere from a high of $50.00 to $34.99 each with its iconic blue and white label. 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: There is one bottle left for $44 of the 2004 vintage, which if I was you, you should scoop it up immediately. But if you want the current vintage, wine dot com has it in abundance with very happy hi good to see you wine scores from the big glossy ad strewn magazines who now have an online presence.

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

Other 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. At the time, Costco was sitting on a boatload of the 2008 and is selling for just under $40.

It's funny to note at the time I wrote this article initially back in 2009, that the wine-buyer at Costco corporate didn't even know that this wine is considered a "Super Tuscan." It's even more amusing that the Costco Connection Magazine November 2011 edition they make a claim (paraphrasing) "Super Tuscans are so....expensive," even though they offer the 2008 Promis, a 'Super Tuscan' for a very reasonable price of $28. So glad the author, who equates wine with toilet tissue knows what they're doing (wink). Until next time my friends sip long and prosper cheers!


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