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Best of the Best 2011: International Red Wines: Gaja 2007 Costa Russi Langhe Barbaresco

Though Piedmont produces several red and white wines, Italy’s premier region has but one superstar varietal, Nebbiolo, and its two most important appellations, Barolo and Barbaresco, are located only a dozen miles apart from one another in the hills of Langhe. Because Barolo is actually produced in 11 villages, this austere yet elegant wine is more abundant than Barbaresco, which is made only in three small communities—and by no one more beautifully than Angelo Gaja, whose great-grandfather founded the family label in 1859. The Gaja 2007 Costa Russi Langhe Barbaresco (www.terlatowines.com, $440), a single-vineyard masterpiece, attests to his careful stewardship of his legacy. Catching the light like folds of dark scarlet silk, this exquisite red expresses the earthy beauty one has come to expect from this site. Deep aromas of rose petals, violets, and raspberry entice the nose, while on the palate a ferrous mineral finish punctuates the lengthy parade of red cherry, cocoa, and anise flavors.

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