Gaja Family Estates

Dear Italian wines defenders,

As some of you probably noticed, I was in Italy this month of January 2008. This time, I took along with me a great translator “Rosella Sabouraud” (below) I couldn’t find better tranlastor than a native speaker which is my mother and she is from Torino to meet some differents wineries mostly in the Piedmont region.

In fact, we will focus into one “Gaya”. We arrived in the afternoon at Gaya winery in the center of Barbaresco village and Mr.Stefano Canello (Mr. Angelo Gaya relative’s, right side) conducted the visit.

Going back to their history, you have to know that Gaja family settled in the piedmont region in the northwest Italy in the mid-seventeenth century. Four generations of Gajas have been producing wines in Piedmoont’s Langhe hills since 1859, the year Giovanni Gaja, a local grape grower, founded the Gaja Winery in Barbaresco.

Today, The Gaja winery owns 250 acres of vineyards in the Barbaresco district (Barbaresco and Treiso) and the Barolo district (Serralunga d’Alba and La Morra). In 1988, they acquired a 30 acre vineyard in one of Serralunga’s best areas and named it Sperss, which means in Piedmontese for nostalgia. It refers to the Gaja family’s nostalgia for the powerful character of Serralinga wines. So, this wine is Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 94% Nebbiolo and 6% Barbera. We are in presence of a deep structure, the nose is pure and very focused fruit with a touch of truffles. Ageing will be 12 months in barriques then 12 months in large Oak casks.

In 1994, the Gayas acquired their first wine estate in Tuscany, Pieve S.Restituta in Montalcino. The property’s forty acres of vineyards produce two brunello di Montalcino wines: Sugarille and Rennina.

In 1996, the Gaya family purchased a second property in Tuscany, Ca’Marcanda, located in the bolgheri district in the commune of Castagneto Carducci. New plantings of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Sangiovese cover 250 acres. The wines produced at Ca’Marcanda are Promis, Magari and Camarcanda (below). The 2000 vintage is the first release of each of these wines.

This is wine is Bolgheri DOC, 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. It is very complex and well-structured, nose with rich fruit. Ageing 18 months in new barriques, then at least 12 months of bottle ageing.

We would like to thank you for you warm welcome.
Saluti and Grazie!

Château d’Issan/3e Grand Cru Classé Margaux

Dear Margaux lovers,

I had the privilege to meet Mr.Emmanuel Cruse owner of Ch. D’Issan (right above), 3rd classified growth in Margaux. Chateau d’Issan is located at the entrance of the village of Cantenac.

In 1945, the Cruse family purchased the property and since then Issan revealed its true potential. Today, the heirs of Emmanuel Sr and Marguerite Cruse run the estate with the true passion and continue to make improvements in both vineyards and the technical aspects of winemaking.


After a wonderful lunch at the chateau, we started our visit through the cellars conducted by Mr.Cruse, himself.

Following vinification, the wines are meticulously tasted and barrels are set aside for blending, one batch at the time.

And so begins the slow ageing of the wine during 18 months in oak barrels.

Château D’Issan has become synonymous with the Charm, Suppleness and Finesse which are the hallmarks of its great terroir of 300 acres. This is an authentic Margaux (65% Cabernet-Sauvignon-35% Merlot)

In 1995, a second wine was born Blason d’Issan made from the youngest vines on the property blended with juice from fully mature vines. It will be perfect for those who wants to get a first step in the world of great Margaux.

I would like to thank again Mr.Emmanuel Cruse and his staff for their warm welcome.


A day at the right bank of Bordeaux

Dear Readers,

Wednesday January 16th, a very cold, windy and rainning day in Pomerol estate, we went with Laure Chavaroche (Export manager of H.Cuvelier House) to meet Mr. Nicolas Despagne, one of the owner with Gerard Despagne of Chateau La Rose Figeac and Chateau Hautes Graves Beaulieu.

In the morning, we arrived at Ch. Maison Blanche in Montage Saint-Emilion area where everything takes place after the harvest made by hand every year. As you can see below the vinification is also traditionnal with a control of temperatures which will be about three weeks. (below)

The whole production (13.25 acres) of Ch.La Rose Figeac does age in French oak barrels during 12 to 15 months and for the second wine Ch. Hautes Graves Beaulieu is about 12 months. We ended-up this visit by a tasting of 2004, 2005 and 2006 .

Both wines were very delicate but Ch.Rose Figeac was more complex and well-balanced compared to the second wine.

Don’t forget H.Cuvelier & Fils has the exclusivity of Hautes Graves Beaulieu since 2003 vintage.

After, we took the direction to Saint-Emilion estate to visit Ch.Angélus (1st Grand Cru Classé B, St-Emilion) owned by Mr.Hubert de Boüard de Laforest. This mythic and fantastic premium wine is also associated to perfection and tradition because seven generation have been involved and maintained the same style through these years among 58.5 acres of vines.

The wines ageing part is a minimum 20 months but can go 28 months in oak barrels, this will depend on the vintage.

We had the privilege to have the visit done by the headtaster.
Then, we finished by a tasting of 2004 vintage which was a classic with a slight touch of black fruits, moka, liquorice and new french oak. A lot of finesse and a long finish.


He indicated to us this one will be matured between 2010 and 2025 but he insisted as well their wines can be accessible younger and they will still reveal an intense and rich taste of fruit.



Then, following our lunch in Saint-Emilion village we had an appointment with Mr.Francois Despagne, owner of Ch.Grand Corbin-Despagne (St-Emilion Grand Cru). His vineyards are about 66.35 acres and located at the boundaries of St-Emilion estate. Since 1998, there is a second wine called Petit Corbin-Despagne.

Mr. Despagne (below) conducted himself the tasting but he showed us the great cellar behind the tasting room.

Of course, after viewing those magnificient format and selection of old vintages, we finished our day by the tasting Ch.Grand Corbin-Despagne 2004.

For him, the wine is a truly classic with very rich fruity taste but with elegance and finesse.

I would like to thank you all Chateaux owners for their warm welcome and for sharing their passion with us.


Michel Couvreur Whisky/May 2007

Dear Sauternes connoisseurs,

This premier cru in Sauternes growth used to be part of Cordier negociant, today is owned by Suez group. The vineyards are about 98.80 acres and divided in three parts. The first one is located north of the chateau, second part is very near to the bottom of Chateau Yquem (Premier Cru Superieur) and close to Chateau Suduiraut (Premier Cru) and finally last one is in Bommes area.

This castle is just full of surprise. It has been totally renovated by Suez group for the pleasure of the best customers which have the privilege to stay. (check this typical castle atmosphere in the living room on the left, and special reserve of 1945 Ch.Lafaurie-Peyraguey on the right)

Well, going back to what we’re delighted and interested in Ch.Lafaurie-Peyraguey. Mr.Eric Larramona, Director (see picture below)

invited me early this month of January to learn more about the extreme and intense work that must be done to be one of the most delicious sauternes of its growth.



After visiting the cellar,

Mr. Laramona conducted a remarquable tasting on 3 vintages 2004, 2005 and 2006.

– 2004: Bottled in June 2006, ageing 18 months in a oak cask, is a classic vintage, well-balance less fresh than 2002 but with litlle spices in the mouth.
– 2005: Bottled in June 2007, same ageing, too young, fruity and complex. Comparable to 1997 vintage.
– 2006: will be bottled in June 2008, same ageing, long harvest and hand picked, the nose can already reveal some passion fruit and woody taste.

And, again Eric I would like to thank you for your warm welcome and I would say to our wines lovers: “open your mind to Sauternes region as many times we forget about such jewel excists!!!