Allegrini 2018


The renowned American wine magazine, “Wine Enthusiast” (the Italian editor is Kerin O'Keefe) has just given Italian wine one of its most important awards. The "Lifetime Achievement Wine Star Award" 2015 has been given to the Piedmont wine producer Angelo Gaja. “Pioneer of the quality revolution of Italian wine and guiding the new generation of his family winery, with his commitment to innovation Angelo Gaja continues to inspire the wine world today”, are the motivations for assigning the awards, and further, “ it is impossible to speak of the Renaissance of Italian wine in the modern era, and not mention Angelo Gaja. Pioneering, creative and influential in his career spanning half a century, he has been the major force in opening the new era of Italian wine and promoter of its image world wide”.
“Gaja’s actions to change the status quo of Italian wine”, explains "Wine Enthusiast", “began in 1960, when he graduated in oenology at the Wine Institute of Alba, following his degree in in economics at the University of Turin. In 1961, at the age of twenty-one, Angelo Gaja joined the family business in the heart of Barbaresco, founded by his great-grandfather in 1859, who was the oldest producer in the region.
Before Angelo took the reins in 1969, his father had already improved the oenological practices and acquired some of the best vineyards in the area. Angelo adopted a more drastic approach to increase quality, like short pruning and reduced yields, then unknown in Italy. He began experimenting with French oak barrels in the late 1960s, and in 1978 realized Barbaresco could be aged in barriques as well as in the traditional large barrels of Slavonia”.

“Gaja was an early advocate in promoting the importance of terroir”, continues the article. “In particular, he focused on the hills of the Langhe, home of the noble Nebbiolo grape variety, the only one that is the base for two of the finest Italian wines, Barolo and Barbaresco. He shocked local growers when he planted small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in the late 1970s, to “prove that Langhe can also produce great wines from international varieties”, as he himself recalls. But perhaps Gaja’s most important contribution to Italian wine”, continues the magazine edited by Adam Strum, “was his devotion to stress the importance of individual vineyards. A pioneer in this sense, his seductive Sorì harvest in 1967 shook the entire wine world for their finesse, structure and high price when it debuted in 1970. World-class wines that inspired an entire generation of wine growers, who all over Italy quickly began adopting innovative practices. Gaja did not focus only on winemaking. Early in his career, he was on a mission to improve the image of Italian wine abroad”. “Until the early 1980s, the Italian wine has suffered from the "cheap and simple", and finely crafted Italian wines were almost unknown on export markets”, says Gaja.

“One of my goals has always been to demonstrate Italy's capacity to produce elegant wines like Barbaresco, and confirm the role of Italy as a leader in the production of wines that perfectly match with food”. With this purpose Gaja has traveled the world, to educate consumers and traders on the excellence of Italian wine.

“One of my father’s unique qualities is his total belief that if you try really hard, you can change things”, said Gaia Gaja, daughter of Angelo, who runs the company with her father and sister Rossana. “Thanks to his passion and hard work, my father is well known the world over, not for wines produced with international grapes, but rather with the Nebbiolo grape, which at that time was almost unknown and not very well understood”.

“Today, the Gaja family”, says Wine Enthusiast, “also owns estates in Tuscany that produce Brunello di Montalcino at Pieve Santa Restituta, and in Bolgheri, at Cà Marcanda. Wine is more than a family business for Angelo Gaja; it is also a way of life. “My dad always says, "Who knows how to drink, knows how to live", or "who enjoys wine knows how to enjoy life", because culture and values are wine’s true wealth”, says Gaia.
The award ceremony will be held on January 25th in New York, at the Wine Star Awards gala dinner. The award in past years has also gone to other Italian wine’s top tier names, like Gianni Zonin and Piero Antinori.

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