gaja, barolo, sperss 2016
As with the 2015, the 2016 Barolo Sperss is a perfect wine. Deep ruby-hued, it boasts a gorgeous perfume of cherry and blueberry-like fruits that are interwoven with notes of tobacco, violets, crushed stone, and licorice. This carries to a magical, full-bodied, powerful wine revealing flawless tannins, off-the-charts purity, and a finish that just about won't quit. From an incredible vintage for Piedmont, this has everything: awesome purity of fruit, power without weight, building yet ultra-fine tannins, notable freshness, and the class to drink well today yet age gracefully for 30-40 years.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The golden touch, that proverbial Gaja magic, is taken to a whole new level in the 2016 Barolo Sperss. Angelo Gaja has taught his children to follow their own path, and now that the generational switch is well underway at the family estate, we can see that Gaia, Rossana and Giovanni have done him proud. Very proud. This stunning expression from the 2016 vintage (with 16,000 bottles released) represents quite a few celebratory milestones. We are now in the fifth generation to protect the Gaja legacy in an unbroken family chain that has endured since 1859. This wine is 100% Nebbiolo, and since the 2013 vintage, it is part of the Barolo DOCG appellation. Winemaking has been tweaked to embrace a more elegant, ethereal and streamlined personality, instead of the bigger extraction we saw in the past. This upgraded identity is distinctly evident in this newest release of Sperss. Starting with appearance, the wine is luminous and bright with shiny ruby and garnet gemstone. Its aromatic reach is three-dimensional with width, height and depth. Delicate berry tones cede to pressed lilac, anise, sandalwood and cardamom spice. I double decanted and left the bottle open for a few hours before my tasting. The results are tight and gentle, and the wine shows beautiful vertical lift and intensity. To achieve this much power without the excess fruit weight is really quite an accomplishment. This is the magic of Nebbiolo, and the magic of Gaja.
Rose, iris, red berry and camphor mingle with a whiff of dark spice on this gorgeous, radiant red. Firmly structured but also boasting extraordinary finesse, the chiseled palate delivers ripe morello cherry, crushed raspberry, star anise and tobacco set against a backbone of taut fine-grained tannins. Vibrant acidity keeps it well balanced and energized. Drink 2024–2046.
The 2016 Barolo Sperss is powerful, wild and savory. It is also much more translucent and Nebbiolo-classic than in the past. Dried herbs, menthol, pine, spice and licorice give Sperss a good deal of aromatic complexity. Today, the 2016 is very shut down and reticent. It will be interesting to see what time brings, and specifically, if Sperss gains more flesh in bottle. At this stage it is light, uncharacteristically so, for a wine that has typically exhibit much more brawn.
Tar and earth flavors are the main themes in this red. Reduced in the beginning, it slowly concedes plum, cherry, chalky mineral and wild herb flavors, allied to the sinewy structure. Reveals the austere side of the vintage, yet remains focused and long. Best from 2024 through 2050.