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GAJA

Website: http://gaja.com/

Gaja is one of the stars of the world wine scene, and a producer that is widely credited with transforming not just the image and international reputation of its local Piemonte region, but of Italy as a whole. One of just a handful of fine wine brands that can compete with, and charge the same prices, as the top names of Burgundy and Bordeaux, Gaja are one of the world's most sought after producers.

In 2009, Gaja celebrated their 150th anniversary. The estate was founded with only two hectares (five acres) by Giovanni Gaja, whose ancestors originally came from Spain in the 17th Century - and is now run by Gaia Gaja, the fifth generation of the family to make wine in Barbaresco. The winery's focus is unashamedly on quality. They are not afraid to declassify or sell off in bulk vintages that do not meet their high standards, as they did in Piemonte in 2002 and Montalcino in 2002, 2003 and 2009.

Despite their fame and success, they remain very much a family business with many wines and vineyards named for members of the Gaja family.

In total Gaja produces 18 different wines from Barbaresco, Barolo and Montalcino with a total annual production of 350,000 bottles. Whilst undoubtedly best known for the reds they make in Piemonte and Tuscany, around eight percent of Gaja's production is white. Indeed, Angelo Gaja, great-grandson of founder Giovanni (father to current winemaker Gaia) and arguably the most famous Gaja to date, was the first person to plant Chardonnay in Piemonte. Furthermore, in recent years they have turned their hand to distilling and have released a range of Grappa made from the pomace left behind in their wine making process.

Not content with fine wine production however Gaja also run a distribution arm - Gaja Distribuzione - which imports high-end wines to Italy from elsewhere in the world including Champagne, Sauternes and Bordeaux, Spanish and Californian wine, as well as spirits and glassware.