The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Bruno Giacosa and Gaja

Posted on | April 20, 2016 | Written by Crystal Edgar | No Comments

Crystal 2014Spring is officially upon us (at least that is what I am telling myself here in New York), and it is time to bring out the whites and rosé wines to welcome the warmth! Today I am excited to introduce a couple of my favorites, both of which dwell far off the beaten path. I do love crisp Chablis, Sancerre, Friulano, Gavi and other bright and refreshing whites, however I like to spice it up from time to time. Seeking a bit of adventure, I find myself reaching for unique producers, grapes or styles of wine. Here are two of my favorites, an Arneis that can be enjoyed anytime and Angelo Gaja’s Gaia & Rey Chardonnay, which requires more attention and contemplation as well as a few very good friends with whom to share the magic.

Arneis (pronounced are-NACE) is in my opinion a somewhat forgotten white grape, living in the shadows of its other Piemontese cousins. Its name translates to “little rascal” or “whimsy” in the local dialect and was so named due to its unpredictable nature and difficulty of cultivation. Although records of this grape date back to the 1400s in the Roero hills, it only gained traction in the late 1970s when winemakers began to realize its potential. Chardonnay, on the other hand, is more of a “household name” grape that’s produced in many countries throughout the world and shows different sides of its personality depending on where it is grown. Gaia & Rey might be not just Italy’s best Chardonnay, but the best white wine in any category to come out of the Boot. The grapes for this wine are sourced from Gaja’s first Chardonnay vineyard, and the wine is named for both his oldest daughter, Gaia Gaja, and his grandmother, Clotilde Rey, a marketing mastermind who taught Angelo the importance of promotional efforts.

Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2014 $29.99

Aromatic, surprisingly intense, and deeply enjoyable, this zesty 2014 Arneis is a fresh and pretty white that shows a nice weight on the palate. White peaches, lemons, pie crust and floral aromatics comprise the flavor profile, and a tangy acidity tempered with a creamy mouth-feel and piquant minerality complete the experience. This is a fantastic wine with fresh seafood or simply as an aperitif before the meal.

Gaja Chardonnay Gaia & Rey 2009 (375ml) $129.00

Gaia & Rey is fermented with naturally occurring yeasts found on the grape skins and in the winery, endowing the wine with a touch of exoticism. It is a hedonistic wine, delivering lusciously ripe flavors of guava, tangerine, honey, marzipan, oak and spice. Impressively chewy in the mouth, the concentrated, ripe fruit is perfectly balanced by a lively acidity that persists through the long, lingering finish.

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