It is an absolute delight to see what a mastermind and skillful pair of hands can do when given a place to start something from scratch! Angelo Gaja, an established and prominent winemaker from Piedmont, came to Bolgheri about 20 years ago having been thoroughly impressed by the quality of local Supertuscans. He purchased a piece of land where there used to be an olive orchard and built a perfect winery.
However the journey to his success was quite a challenging one. It took Angelo a total of 18 (!!) trips to Bolgheri to negotiate the purchase of land which was finally completed in 1996. At times his family advised him to give up as they felt it was a Ca’Marcanda, which in Piedmontese dialect means “a house of endless negotiations”. This is where the winery has got its name from…
Our tour was given to us by the extremely knowledgeable and charming Valentina, who seemed to know everything from the history of Gaja’s family, to winemaking and business operations.
She walked us through the state-of-the-art winery, which is hidden in the depth of a hill, adorned by the old olive trees, perfectly blending with the surrounding nature. Remarkably, not one olive tree was destroyed during construction; they were all replanted along the perimeter of the estate.
Only one of three winery levels is visible above ground.
Recycled materials (e.g. stones excavated from the soil, old railway tracks, parts of a decommissioned gas pipeline) have been widely used not only for construction, but also for the interior design of the winery and the hospitality area.
Colour schemes used in the winery’s interior design are perfectly reflected in the labels of the bottles which shine through their simplicity and elegance.
The mirrored triangles on the label of all Ca’Marcanda wines represent the view of the famous Cypress Alley leading to the town of Bolgheri.
Valentina kindly offered us to taste the three red wines produced at the estate.
2013 Promis: 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 10% Sangiovese. Pronounced intensity from the very first sniff packed with cranberries, cherry, cassis and plums; hint of spice (clove, black pepper), vanilla and tar add to complexity. On the full bodied side, powerful tannins. Can be enjoyed now but will certainly age well for a few more years. (£27+)
2013 Magari: 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc. Lushness of Merlot in the background, with black fruit, violets, sweet spice and cigar notes of the two Cabernets in the focus of the picture. Full bodied with smooth velvety tannins and an impressively long finish. (£32+)
2012 Camarcanda: 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. The estate’s flagship wine is clearly the king – layers and layers of rich black and red fruit, floral notes, sweet spice. Perfectly integrated oak, elegant minerality, long finish. Absolutely delicious. (£85+).
Lastly, I would like to mention the remarkable social commitment of the Ca’Marcanda estate. The Gaja family decided not to produce olive oil from the large number of olive trees on the estate. Each year the entire yield is given away to the locals for free. Also, they chose not to charge private visitors for winery tours. Instead, wine lovers wishing to visit the estate are asked to donate to one of the charities supporting different causes prior to their visit.
Make sure you don’t miss out on my FULL TRAVEL REPORT which includes some history of Bolgheri as a wine region, visits to two other wineries and plenty of recommendations for restaurants and places to visit nearby.