“simply delightful” ... “among the finest expressions on the Tuscan coast.”
In 1961, after earning a degree in enology, a young Angelo Gaja began working in his family’s winery, picking up where his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather left off. But the intrepid Gaja was not content to simply follow in their footsteps. He would revolutionize winemaking in Barbaresco, introducing French concepts including the use of barrique, hybrid bottle formats, longer corks, and even clonal selection in the vineyard. These techniques catapulted the region to Burgundian heights, and when it was all said and done, Gaja had emerged as “the undisputed king of Barbaresco.”
After a blisteringly successful 30-year run, Gaja turned to the potential he saw further south. In 1994, he purchased the historic Pieve Santa Restituta estate in Montalcino, earning 13 scores of 94-97 points from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator. Two years later, Gaja purchased another property off the Tuscan coast in Bolgheri, just 6 miles from where Lodovico Antinori had struck gold at Ornellaia.
Gaja, who also earned a degree in economics, is a fierce negotiator. After 18 trips to Bolgheri, he finally closed on the 250-acre estate, naming it “Ca’ Marcanda” — Piedmontese dialect for “house of endless negotiations.” Gaja’s vision was clear: Produce broad-shouldered, massively concentrated yet elegant Bordeaux blends, reminiscent of warmer vintages like 1999 and 2011 in Barbaresco.
Since the first vintage of Ca’ Marcanda in 2000, the estate has steadily gained ground on Bolgheri’s superstars. To date, Gaja’s stunning Bordeaux blends have earned 19 ratings of 93 points or more from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. But it wasn’t until 2012 that Gaja came out at the top of Parker’s Honor Roll, ahead of Sassicaia (93 points, $250) and neck and neck with Ornellaia (94, $240).
The Wine Advocate called the 2012 Ca’ Marcanda Magari “simply delightful” and “among the finest expressions on the Tuscan coast.” Its Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are drawn from the estate’s coveted terre bianche soils, rich in calcareous clay, endowing the wine with a sturdy backbone and tremendous aging potential. The 2012 growing season, which swerved from a mild winter to a warm spring and an even warmer summer, reigned itself in at the 12th hour to preserve a wonderful freshness in the wine. In the glass, the Ca’ Marcanda Magari is deep ruby-red. Blackberry, cherry, clove, mocha, and mint emanate from the nose, followed by soft cherry and sumptuous dark-berry fruit on the palate. Cabernet Sauvignon provides an elegant, firm structure and mouthfeel, which contrasts beautifully with the lively Merlot component. Spice lingers into the long finish. Very refined overall, the unmistakable signature of the “King of Barbaresco.”
Compared to $89 on release, and quite a bit more for neighboring Bolgheri heavyweights. Just $59 today as Angelo Gaja climbs to the top of Parker’s Honor Roll and takes aim at another title. Only 240 bottles up for grabs. Shipping included on 4.
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