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Gambero Rosso Editor Slams Gaja


Craig Camp
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But a month after Gaja received his Tre Bicchieri last November at the official awards ceremony in Rome, co-chief editor of the Guide, Daniele Cernilli, has personally and professionally criticised him.

In his editorial in December’s Gambero Rosso magazine, Cernilli referred to Gaja’s behavior as that ‘of a star, a primadonna’ while attacking the producer’s exorbitant pricing and describes the wines as ‘having more to do with Gaja’s name than with their region.’

He adds, ‘And his wines? They are like him. Technically perfect, but cold without soul.’

This is odd, Craig. But maybe not so terribly odd for Italy? I sense a bit of la politica here...

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See the Big Red story? WKU's lawyer seems a little clueless:

"I had no idea when I started this that Berlusconi controlled Mediaset," he added, saying Mediaset journalists had asked him slanted questions to try to get him in trouble.

Crossland also referred to a correspondent from "Striscia" who stormed the stage at Monday's news conference to make Mediaset's case.

"I'm stepping into a lot of potholes that were not anticipated," Crossland said. "I don't know who my enemies are here."

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There clearly is much more to this story than meets the eye. I just wonder what it is.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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Don't get into politics gents, please.

However, I've never understand Cernilli's polemics. Gambero Rosso guide contributed to the price rise, no doubt about that.

I still have to understand Daniele Cernilli's thoughts about cellar technology, Gravner, barrique, Gaia, super-tuscans, Friuli, prices, Southern Italy wines, everything, etc...

Alberto

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Cernilli's polemics

Many years ago, during my first time trip to Barbaresco (I didn't know much about the Barbaresco wine) I tried to visit some wineries.

Gajas closed jail entrance and the matching verbal rejection was so apalling, I never could get rid of exactly this image of Gaja being "cold and soulless".

Please, this is a highly subjective impression and has nothing to do with his wines, which I tasted only two times in my life, because I never bought any. I understand that some famous wineries are closed for visitors, but the impolite way this was handled at Gaja back then was among the worst I ever experienced. I felt like in front of some industrial factory in a Milanese suburb. My next stops had been Roagna and Cigliuti and were only to firm my Gaja "prejudice".

I have no idea about Cernillis true motivations to polemize, and I know about Gajas achievement for Barbresco wine, but with the adjectives "cold and soulless" I'm not terribly shocked. I never felt warm with this producer.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Whatever reason . I agree with the editor.

Gaja wine tatings had been somehow disapointing in terms of name and price. Gaja's outstanding and consistant marketing ability had driven him to where he been so far.

I don't doubt his Gaja and Ray Chardonnay as being massive nor am I against his new moves with the so called cheaper wines, yet, far from being first choice in terms of what Barolo and Barbaresco should stand for. Bottom line: lacks the finess great wines should contain and too commercial.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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It is hard to argue or dispute the quality of all the red wines produced by Gaja. You may personally not like the style (and certainly not the price), but wines that have been recognized as excellent by so many people for so long usually merit that praise - if not the prices charged. Bottles of 1978 and 1982 that I have in my cellar are extraordinary bottles by any standard.

Over the 25 years I have known Angelo, I have always found him gracious and his hospitality to be exceptional. Wineries that achieve "rock star" status often have to attempt to control visits otherwise they could not function. The Gaja winery is a working winery - not the show pieces you see in the Napa Valley. For instance, at Vega Sicilia you are met by a gate and an armed guard. Neither Vega or Gaja can welcome unannounced appointments because they are not set up to do so and the demand is too high. Also, it is normal in Europe to expect appointments for winery visits.

The main question here is how can the Gambero Rosso, after showering praise and glory for years, now decide the wines of Gaja are "cold and soulless". What this brings into question is not the quality of Gaja's wines, but the integrity of the Gambero Rosso.

The debate should not be whether Angelo Gaja is a nice guy, but if Gambero Rosso is a reliable source of information.

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I have known Angelo Gaja since the early 1980s...when I first visited, we were even invited to make use of a couple of apartments near the winery. He showed us through the winery and we had a wonderful tasting of his wines....

Another visit, Angelo took us to lunch at an up & coming place where we had an amazing marathon of wine and food. And not featuring Gaja wines, exclusively.

The man has been a wonderful ambassador for Piemonte in general, Barbaresco in particular. He has seen examples of other leading vintners who benefit when everyone in the "neighborhood" benefits. Gaja's neighbors may be unkind in their words about Angelo or his wines, but all of them are thrilled to be able to get the kind of prices they've been getting the past decade for their efforts. He has worked hard, too, promoting his wines for service in many settings, "not just for Italian food."

Gaja is a sharp fellow. He is driven by an energy few people have. He's a very shrewd businessman, too.

But the quality of his wines is exceptional.

It's easy to target any winemaker for their ridiculously priced bottles of wine. And Gaja's bottles command hefty prices, to be sure.

The fact is Gaja is not as "warm" in the company of some people as he is with those with whom he's more comfortable. It's difficult to be "on" all the time.

I am delighted he is "on" all the time in terms of the wine production within the Gaja "empire." It doesn't bother me that some journalists may find him cold. They should simply taste the wines and judge them for what they are, not for the personality (agreeable or disagreeable) behind the bottles.

As for Gambero Rosso's ethics: I am bothered when I see a page where they are supposedly rendering critical judgment of a wine and they write about the winemaker using a familiar name or nickname. I sense they are less critical of that winemaker's efforts than the ones who are referred to with a formal "Signor ____ " notation.

In any case, Gaja does not make wine for the masses and his wines are costly. I have not found them to be cold and soul-less. I wish I could afford to put them on the table with greater frequency. If he couldn't "get" those prices, Gaja wouldn't ask those prices.

I am curious to know what situation took place which would incite Mr. Cernilli to take the trouble to bash Gaja as a "primadonna."

Curious.

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The debate should not be whether Angelo Gaja is a nice guy, but if Gambero Rosso is a reliable source of information.

You are absolutely correct, Craig.

I've confessed a certain subjective dislike for Gajas Oeuvre and only afterwards I read some of the honest and sincere Gaja discussions which made an interesting (though difficult) Italian reading on the Webpage of Franco Ziliani.

I can clearly state that in all the informal wine talk I had with Piedmontesians (and not only wine people), no one ever had a bad mouthing about Gaja in the sense of he's being dishonest, unfair or similar. Nobody ever doubted of Angelo Gaja himself being a true gentleman.

I clearly wouldn't state the same in the same clear manner about "I Vini del Gambero", whose bicchieri ratings are definitely among the more intransparent wine ratings around and where I have some limited background info about the procedure in not so known Italian wine regions (Garda).

This sudden, offensive and personal attack (even by the standards of "la polemica") by a leading wine media editor, who heralded Gaja's achievements for so long, is really very dubious.

I vaguely suspect that at the bottom of this clash, there is not only a newborn personal animosity, but also an influence by a recently changed economical situation regarding Italian luxury wines. Somehow, it reminds me of the stock market bubble: as long as prices went up, the critiques were rather unheard. As soon as the falling prices set in, critique got momentum and some opportunistic voices jumped ship.

With his sudden attack, Cernili and Gambero Rosso lost credibilty. And as Ziliani states, limut test will be in november 2004 (new edition of Gambero).

Edited by Boris_A (log)

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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I vaguely suspect that at the bottom of this clash, there is not only a newborn personal animosity, but also an influence by a recently changed economical situation regarding Italian luxury wines. Somehow, it reminds me of the stock market bubble: as long as prices went up, the critiques were rather unheard. As soon as the falling prices set in, critique got momentum and some opportunistic voices jumped ship.

I think Boris may be right on the target here. The stock market reference rings true. Is the Gambero Rosso trying to unload some stock before it drops in value?

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