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Gaja 1961 vs Cappellano 1964

A dear friend kindly opened these two great bottles on my recent visit to his home town.  This was a duel not only of two excellent vintages, but also of Barolo versus Barbaresco and most importantly of two highly respected producers.

There is no doubt that the 1964 vintage is generally more highly regarded than the 1961 but the Gaja 1961 has received great reviews including a recent 100 point score from James Suckling.

When the Gaja was opened it clearly had a darker and denser colour than the Cappellano which also had a very healthy plenty of depth of colour of its own.  the Gaja seemed atypical of the Nebbiolo colour especially in that era.

On the nose the Gaja was straight out of the blocks with a brooding dark nose of coffee and tar whilst the Cappellano was much more subdued in its soft, floral, minty, charm.  There was an arrogant, alpha male character to the Gaja which initially overshadowed the cooler, more restrained demeanour of the Cappellano.

As the wines grew in the glass the Gaja was still loud but faded into a fairly one dimensional character.  The fruit was clear and vibrant and tannins noticeable but it lacked complexity.  The  Cappellano meanwhile was growing in confidence and stature.  The fruit sweetened and gained intensity whilst the palate became more balanced and longer on the finish.

There was no doubt that the Cappellano had overtaken it precocious rival.  The Gaja, whilst still very good was seemingly unable to shake off the limitations of  what seemed a clear addition of Barbera in the blend.

Victory for 1964, perhaps;  glory to Barolo, possibly; one nil to Cappellano, definitely.


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