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2013 Gaja Darmagi Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Gaja Darmagi Cabernet Sauvignon

94 JS

Featured Review
A solid red as always with lots of currant, chocolate and walnut. Full and chewy, savory and dark chocolate. Very pretty tannins. A blend of cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc. Better in 2019 James Suckling

James Suckling | 94 JS

Critic Reviews

A solid red as always with lots of currant, chocolate and walnut. Full and chewy, savory and dark chocolate. Very pretty tannins. A blend of cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc. Better in 2019

James Suckling | 94 JS
The 2013 Darmagi is almost all Cabernet Sauvignon (there’s 3% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc) and comes from a small, 2.8-hectare vineyard. Aged 6-8 months in barrel before being moved to a larger oak cask for a year, it offers a Bordeaux-like character in its ripe dark fruits, tobacco, and damp earth aromas and flavors. Possessing medium-bodied richness, nicely integrated acidity, and an elegant, seamless style on the palate, it’s a beautiful wine to drink over the coming 10-15 years. It’s the most mid-weight of the four vintages reviewed for this report, yet it’s impeccably balanced and a classy wine.

Jeb Dunnuck | 92 JD
The 2013 Darmagi (Cabernet Sauvignon) is dark, sensual and inviting. Black cherry, spice, herb, chocolate and menthol are front and center. Vibrant and beautifully delineated, the 2013 possesses terrific balance and plenty of class. The Darmagi is certainly a solid, well made wine.

Antonio Galloni | 92 AG
Complex aromas of black currant, plum, cedar and coconut introduce this intense red. The flavors are saturated and the oak spice well-integrated into the whole. Finishes with a touch of fresh thyme and sage, supported by firm, dusty tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2024.

Wine Spectator | 91 WS

Wine Details for 2013 Gaja Darmagi Cabernet Sauvignon

Type of Wine Super Tuscan/IGT : Many grape varietals are planted all over the world so they're not typical for one single country anymore. For instance, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc form part of many blends coming from different countries. Super Tuscan wines are produced in this Italian region, but grape varietals used in the making are not indigenous - those are mostly Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon : It is recognized worldwide, referred to as “king of grapes” and has easily become the most popular grape variety in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon has seemingly taken the world by storm. It has seen exponential growth and popularity in American and around the world over the past thirty years. The phrase “Cabernet is king,” is a common maxim in the world of wine. Cabernet Sauvignon wine has become so popular that when being referred to can be recognized by simple slang, such as “Cab” or “Cabernet. It might appear simple, straightforward and easily understood; yet, interestingly remains an enigma, which has both baffled and excited oenologists since its discovery.

The exact origin and circumstances of this world-altering event are still enigmatic; however, at the end of the 20th century, UC Davis Scientists (John Bowers and Carole Meredith) were able to solve part of the mystery using DNA fingerprinting technology that proved Cabernet Sauvignon to be the offspring of a surprising spontaneous crossing of Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. By the 18th century there were already records of Cabernet Sauvignon being well-established on the west side of the Gironde Estuary (Left Bank) in the Medoc and Graves.

Although tremendously popular in California and what seems to have become the identity of Napa Valley winemaking, Cabernet Sauvignon’s birth took place in the Bordeaux region of southwest France by fortuitous unification. Whereas Napa Valley experienced a winemaking renaissance during the 1970’s and 1980s (greatly due to the 1976 Judgement of Paris) quality wine from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape has been produced in the Medoc, on the Left Bank of Bordeaux for over 400 years.

Cabernet Sauvignon’s first recorded plantings in California can be traced back to the 1850’s when Antoine Delmas, a French nurseryman, brought French vines (including one called ‘Cabrunet’) to the Santa Clara Valley. Early cultivation suffered due to obscurity of the varietal and improper planting in inhospitable soil. It wasn’t until pioneers such as Robert Mondavi, Randy Dunn and Warren Winiarski with their amazing foresight and understanding of terroir, would the grape variety finally find its niche in California winemaking.

Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in warm climates moderated by a cooling marine influence. It is perfectly attuned to gravel-based soils with good drainage. Whether on flat land or a hillside, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape flourishes in proper climates and terroir, producing incredible yields. The thick grapevine is extremely vigorous allowing it to exploit its natural host. Its distinctive small, black berries (reminiscent of blueberries) adhere firmly to the stalk and are capable of a very long “hang time.” These berries are extremely concentrated, producing intensely flavored fruit. The thick skins of the grape are characterized as having highly astringent flavor, high tannin, acidity and dark color. Coincidentally, the variety has a special affinity for oak, which helps soften the bitterness.

Today, the Noble Bordeaux varietal of Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on 340,000 hectares (741,300 acres) of vineyards across the earth’s surface. From Sicily to Sonoma, Chile to Bordeaux, South Africa to Napa. It has found symbiosis in terroir hotspots that mimic that of the Medoc and Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon’s globetrotting has allowed the grape variety to take root all over the world, captivating its inhabitants and influencing winemaking. This serendipitous marriage between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc centuries ago, which offered to the world its progeny, has changed the landscape of winegrowing, winemaking and the face of the entire wine market forever. It has influenced blending, changed civilization and has cultivated a place for itself in today’s world… the very pinnacle.

Country Italy : Italy is renowned as one of the world’s greatest gastronomic havens; from certified Prosciutto di Parma to the sea-side seafood eateries on the island of Sicily. However, this epicurean experience could not possibly be as hedonistic without the ethereal combination of the country’s plethora of fine wines. It seems unfair that a nation should be able to boast, both, some of the world’s greatest cuisine as well as its greatest wines. Italian wine is one of the most sought after in the world, and has become the second most produced in the world, behind only France.



Stretching an impressive 736 miles from northern Italy to the peninsula’s southern tip, the country’s geography generates an enormous array of topography, climate and soil structure. This is an extremely important quality of its winegrowing and making industry which lays claim to nearly 550 different grape varietals, which all desire their own necessities, in terms of terroir and climate.



The still red wines of Italy truly characterize the nation’s vast and expansive terroir; Nebbiolo dominates Piedmont, where Barolo and Barbaresco reign king and queen of the region’s production. Hailing from Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany, the rockstar Sangiovese grape has become synonymous with greatness. Vin Santo sweet wines have taken on a mighty feat of competing with the glorious wines of Sauternes, and of course, Prosecco. Prosecco, located in Trieste (northeast Italy) and its creation of luxuriously effervescent styles of wine has become Italy’s answer to Champagne. The Glera grape variety, which has become synonymous with the name Prosecco, is the main ingredient and is beloved in the appellation where the village of Prosecco’s name has become world renowned.



The blurred boundary between Italy and the countries of Slovenia and Austria, where German influence still resonates through Friuli wines. The prevalence of Riesling and other such grape varietals is high in this region and have become extremely popular on today’s market.



With nearly 702,000 hectares of grapevines covering the massive and diverse landscape, Italy’s annual average of 48.3 million hectoliters of wine production is second only to France in terms of volume and Spain in terms of hectares of vines. The country is vast and overwhelming when it comes to the culinary arts, but perhaps even this is overshadowed by its production of some of the world’s most sought after wines, whether the omnipresent Chianti to the highly collectible and sought after Amarone della Valpolicalla.


Region Tuscany : Italian culture worships the concept of a shared meal, and their wines scream for a chance to be uncorked with your friends and family. The region's Mediterranean climate and hilly landscape combine to create a beautiful viticultural environment, where every chosen grape is brought to its full potential and transmuted into drinks worthy of gods. The vineyards are planted along the higher reaches of the hill slopes, creating a gorgeous view of the Italian landscape.

Once your lips kiss the wine, you're sent spiraling down a veritable whirlpool of pure flavor, touching upon notes of sensuous cherry, nuts, floral hints and undertones of honey and minerals. The wines can be as sweet as a fresh summer romance, and carry an air of dignity and elegance about them that can stimulate your intellect for months as you contemplate the seemingly infinite intricacies and details in the texture. Tuscany is an important part of Italian viticulture, and sampling their wines is the closest you can get to visiting this heavenly region and experiencing the culture.
Subregion Langhe

Overview

Producer Gaja : Gaja: these two syllables are not only recognized world-wide, but evoke one of the greatest and most respected traditions in European winemaking. However simple it may sound, it speaks volumes about the Family, who is widely credited with transforming not just the image and international reputation of its native Piedmont region, but of Italy as a whole; raising awareness of the quality of single vineyard and parcel by parcel vinification and pioneering the cultivation of non-native varietals in Piedmont. The Gaja family has had a significant impact on the way that Italian wine is grown, made, priced, distributed and marketed. After World War II and the phylloxera epidemic devastated Europe, it was the Gaja family who put Barbaresco on the map, helping to elevate the quality and allure of the region. Gaja is one of a handful of fine wine brands that can compete with and charge the same price as the top names of Burgundy and Bordeaux. The Gaja estate’s long history and reputation are rooted in the meticulous production of wine from grape to glass.

The Gaja estate, founded in 1859 by Giovanni Gaja, has been directed by Angelo Gaja (Giovanni’s great-grandson) since the early 1960s and continues to honor and uphold his father and grandfather’s legacy. With the help of his three children, representing the fifth generation to operate the 163 year old winery, the Gaja Estate continues to thrive in Piedmont and has extended its holdings into Tuscany and beyond. Today’s portfolio reflects the family’s tireless efforts to remain true to the culture of traditional Italian winemaking, but also their willingness to act intrepidly. The collection includes the flagship trio of renowned single-vineyard Barbarescos, Sori San Lorenzo, Sori Tildin and Costa Russi, the esteemed Barolos, Contesia and Sperss, the once contrarious Darmagi Cabernet Sauvignon, Sugarille and Renina Brunellos, and their trailblazing whites, Gaia & Rey (100% Chardonnay) Rossj-Bass (95% Chardonnay, 5% Sauvignon Blanc) and Alenti di Brassica (100% Sauvignon Blanc). The controversial, yet innovative use of French varietals is clearly on display in Gaja’s current profile.

Gaja’s unique style of wines defies classification as either ‘traditional’ or ‘modernist’; “Gaja is Gaja”, according to David Gleave MW and successful wine importer. Gaja is synonymous with risky gambles and bold changes of direction, as evidenced not only by its interest in white wines in a land of reds, but also the turn towards international grapes in a region devoted only to indigenous varieties. Angelo Gaja’s fearless approach was first witnessed with the introduction of Darmagi, made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Planted in 1978, Darmagi was the first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard to be planted in Piedmont. The name Darmagi, first released in 1985, means "what a pity" in the Piedmont dialect, and said to be Angelo’s father, Giovanni’s reaction to the arrival of Bordeaux varieties in Barbaresco. Unlike his son, he was rather bound to traditional techniques with native varietals.

The most controversial decision in Gaja’s history was to sully the Nebbiolo grape with a small proportion of Barbara, meaning the three most famous Barbarescos were downgraded from DOCG (Denomination of Controlled Origin Guaranteed) to simply Langhe Nebbiolo. “Appellations are not a dogma. In my opinion, they have the same relevance as the winery’s brand,” exclaimed Angelo Gaja. The famous trio eventually returned to DOCG in 2013 when the wines would be produced as single variety Barbarescos once more, but this was a declaration of his confidence

The massive operation is now run by his two daughters, Gaia and Rossana, though Angelo still has the final say. When asked about how new ventures and strategies will be decided; his three children laughed, “He’ll decide.” The Gaja estate produces 18 different wines from 100 hectares in Piedmont, 118 hectares in Bolgheri and 27 hectares in Brunello di Montalcino. The vineyards are planted to both native and international varietals, including Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. With nearly one million bottles produced annually, Gaja is one of the top producers in Italy, in terms of both quantity and quality. Quality is the estate’s main goal and does not hesitate to declassify entire vintages when they do not meet the extremely high Gaja standards (such as in 2003 and 2009).

What was once a humble 2 hectare plot in Barbaresco, has become a globally recognized brand, that exudes simple beauty, opulence, and elegance, a brand that reflects five generations of winemaking, that defies convention, demands global attention, and has become one of the most distinguished and omnipresent names in the world of fine wine.


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