Gaja’s 1990 Barbaresco shows an unbelievable level of youthfulness that absolutely defies the effects of time. Blackberry, cherry and plum are miraculously intact and immaculately preserved. This Barbaresco offers much more than a solid base of fruit to keep it relevant. The bouquet is beautifully expressive with etched mineral tones of chalk and brimstone as well as elegantly ethereal layers of balsam herb, rosemary, cola and Asian spice. The wine is drinking superbly at the moment and there’s an exciting level of tension and energy that sets it apart from the rest. The 1990 vintage was released as Angelo Gaja was enjoying one of his many career highpoints. In 1988, he purchased vineyards in the Barolo appellation (previously he purchased fruit) and his landmark Barolo Sperss was released in 1992. In the 1990s, he would expand his winemaking reach to Montalcino and Bolgheri (both in Tuscany) with additional acquisitions in those areas. The success of the 1990 vintage was a huge part of this magical moment on the Gaja timeline. With good potential for further aging, this bottle can be opened now or stored in the cellar for another decade or more.
The 1990 Barbaresco emerges from the glass with an exotic array of tar, smoke, licorice and grilled herbs. There is wonderful intensity to the fruit and plenty of structure. The tannins are still a bit young and the wine is only now beginning to enter the early part of what looks to be a long drinking window! The 1990 Barbaresco is a touch rounder and softer than the 1989, with perhaps just a little less aromatic complexity and inner perfume, although that is splitting hairs at this level. The finish is long, intense and deeply satisfying. This is a marvelous bottle of Barbaresco.