The golden touch, that proverbial Gaja magic, is taken to a whole new level in the 2016 Barolo Sperss. Angelo Gaja has taught his children to follow their own path, and now that the generational switch is well underway at the family estate, we can see that Gaia, Rossana and Giovanni have done him proud. Very proud. This stunning expression from the 2016 vintage (with 16,000 bottles released) represents quite a few celebratory milestones. We are now in the fifth generation to protect the Gaja legacy in an unbroken family chain that has endured since 1859. This wine is 100% Nebbiolo, and since the 2013 vintage, it is part of the Barolo DOCG appellation. Winemaking has been tweaked to embrace a more elegant, ethereal and streamlined personality, instead of the bigger extraction we saw in the past. This upgraded identity is distinctly evident in this newest release of Sperss. Starting with appearance, the wine is luminous and bright with shiny ruby and garnet gemstone. Its aromatic reach is three-dimensional with width, height and depth. Delicate berry tones cede to pressed lilac, anise, sandalwood and cardamom spice. I double decanted and left the bottle open for a few hours before my tasting. The results are tight and gentle, and the wine shows beautiful vertical lift and intensity. To achieve this much power without the excess fruit weight is really quite an accomplishment. This is the magic of Nebbiolo, and the magic of Gaja.
100 points, Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (Jul 2020)
As with the 2015, the 2016 Barolo Sperss is a perfect wine. Deep ruby-hued, it boasts a gorgeous perfume of cherry and blueberry-like fruits that are interwoven with notes of tobacco, violets, crushed stone, and licorice. This carries to a magical, full-bodied, powerful wine revealing flawless tannins, off-the-charts purity, and a finish that just about won't quit. From an incredible vintage for Piedmont, this has everything: awesome purity of fruit, power without weight, building yet ultra-fine tannins, notable freshness, and the class to drink well today yet age gracefully for 30-40 years.
100 points, Jeb Dunnuck (Feb 2020)
Rose, iris, red berry and camphor mingle with a whiff of dark spice on this gorgeous, radiant red. Firmly structured but also boasting extraordinary finesse, the chiseled palate delivers ripe morello cherry, crushed raspberry, star anise and tobacco set against a backbone of taut fine-grained tannins. Vibrant acidity keeps it well balanced and energized. Drink 2024–2046.
99 points, Kerin O'Keefe, Wine Enthusiast (Sep 2020)
Sperss is an alluring wine in the long and even 2016 growing season. Its flavors of red cherry, pomegranate and raspberry are cool and crisp, framed by fine, granular tannins. Notes of cedar, tobacco and mint give further dimension to the juicy fruit tones, and the texture is smooth and silky, maintaining a harmonious balance through a long, sultry finish. The wine has staying power, still glorious three days after first opening the bottle.
98 points, Wine & Spirits (Dec 2020)