Behind the label: Gianni Gagliardo

Behind the label: Gianni Gagliardo

It’s almost four decades since the name Gianni Gagliardo entered the world of winemaking. But the roots of this business are much older than that. As is common in the Italian wine industry, it has been passed down the generations However, in this case, it picked up a name change along the way.

The Colla family started growing grapes in Piemonte since 1847, although initially the fruit was sold to other winemakers. In 1961, Paolo Colla, the fourth generation, began the move away from being a grower when he started making Dolcetto. He had higher ambitions, though, wanting to create the more prestigious Barolo. His first steps towards achieving that goal came in 1961 when he acquired a farm in La Morra, and soon he was producing Barolo with all of the traditional characteristics.

In 1972, Marivanna Colla, Paolo’s only daughter, married Gianni Gagliardo, who would learn the art of winemaking from his father-in-law. The newcomer’s first foray into production led to him producing white wine from the Arneis grape. Nine years later, Gianni inherited the business on Paolo’s death, and changed the name. Since then, he has imposed his own style on the process and extended the business to involve his sons Stefano, Alberto and Paolo, who represent the sixth generation and are responsible for winemaking, viticulture and operations respectively.

The family’s vineyards now account for more than 23 hectares in the Langa and Roero areas, and the hilltop winery is at the summit of Borgata Serra dei Turchi in the commune of La Morra. It is a state-of-the-art structure that aims to maximise the quality of the wines by ensuring constant temperatures and the movement of wine using gravity.

The vineyards are certified as organic, and all aspects of the process follow biodynamic principles. The vinification process involves minimum intervention, with the stated aim of delivering balanced, elegant wines. The bar is set high and if the Gagliardos believe that any wine falls short of their exacting standards, it will not be released.

We like that focus on quality, and that’s why we have five Gianni Gagliardo wines on our list.

The first of those is Roero Arneis 2019, a white made from Arneis grapes which are grown on particularly sandy soils. This vintage was delayed by an extended winter, but high summer temperatures and long, mild autumn produced particularly ripe grapes. The result is a rich wine with fresh, floral and mineral notes.

The reds span a range of price points, starting with the Barbera d'Alba DOC Superiore ‘Madama’ 2018. This is a soft and elegant wine that is fruity and lingers deliciously on the palate. Similar characteristics are evident in the Langhe Nebbiolo DOC Da Batiè 2019, which combines the fruit flavours with some savoury tastes such as oregano and liquorice.

Those are great wines, but even they are overshadowed by the two Gagliardo Barolos. The Barolo DOCG 2017 was produced in a low-yielding year. However, as is often the case, limited production levels produced concentrated wines full of finesse. Flowery scents give way to a rich herb-tinged finish. Anyone who enjoys that example of the Barolo style will love the Barolo del Comune di la Morra DOCG 2016. This was the first release of the Gagliardo Barolo from the Comune di La Morra, which is among the most exclusive Piemonte winemaking regions. The wine is earthy, with fruity notes and is a superb accompaniment to red meats or pasta. It may be the first release, but it’s an instant hit as far as we’re concerned.