Andrew Caillard’s Tasting Notes for Grosset Gaia
Jeffrey Grosset established his Gaia vineyard in 1986, just below Mount Horrocks in the Clare Valley, South Australia. Isolated and windswept, at an elevation of 570 metres it is the region’s highest vineyard.
Consisting of two hectares of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, this strikingly beautiful site is extremely challenging and requires careful management. Hard red rock predominates, and the rocky outcrops that break through the earth prevent inter-row cropping and weed control through tillage. Instead, seed is broadcast by hand and grasses and clovers encouraged to regenerate.
Close-planted at 3000 vines per hectare, the yield is about two kilograms per vine; less than two bottles of wine. That vines manage to grow here at all is something of a marvel, let alone the quality and consistency of the fruit they produce.
Grosset named the vineyard ‘Gaia’ after scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock’s theory of symbiosis, which posits that the earth is a single living organism of immense complexity; one that depends on the full diversity of its species to remain in balance, sustain its ecological health, and restore itself in the face of the changing environmental conditions precipitated by human activity.
Grosset has absorbed Lovelock’s ecological theories and applied them to his own methods of viticulture so that today, his vineyard is hand-tended and ACO certified organic. The resilience of the vines in such difficult terrain is a testament to the soundness of this philosophy.
1990: medium deep crimson. Fresh earthy, cassis and herb garden aromas with some chocolate, briary, polished leather notes. well-concentrated palate with cassis, earthy, polished leather flavours, and loose-knit, but slightly leafy tannins. Finishes minerally and long. Still has the richness on the mid palate to age further. 86 points. now – 2020.
1991: medium deep crimson. Fragrant herb, blackcurrant, tobacco and coffee aromas with some savoury notes. Delicious wine with blackcurrant, espresso and tobacco flavours, and lovely smooth sweet fruit, fine loose-knit chalky tannins, underlying savoury, paneforte notes. Finishes long and sweet with a tannin plume. very good. 93 points. now – 2025.
1992: medium deep crimson. earthy, herb, sage, mint, cassis and red plum aromas. a concentrated but mature palate with earthy, leather flavours with some sweet cassis fruit notes, plentiful sinewy dry tannins. Finishes chalky dry and minerally. 88 points. now – 2025.
1993: medium deep colour. lovely cassis, red licorice, slightly leafy and silage aromas. Sweet and savoury palate with black fruits, dark chocolate, apricot, silage and leafy flavours. Plenty of mid-palate richness and fine, chalky, al-dente tannins. to some extent typical of the vintage,but still fresh with considerable vigour. 89 points. now - 2025.
1994: medium deep colour. intense blackcurrant, praline, orange peel and clove aromas. lovely rich voluminous and bouyant blackcurrant, tobacco and praline flavours and fine-grained cedar tannins. Finishes chocolaty firm but long and savoury. Has plenty of fruit power but is elegantly structured. Super wine. 96 points. now – 2035.
1995: medium deep crimson. Fresh cassis, dark chocolate and vanilla aromas with touch of herb and tobacco. very claret, margaux-like. Fresh and minerally with cassis, praline and herb flavours. Fine, lacy, supple, graphite tannins and underlying tobacco and savoury notes. Beautiful length. 94 points. now – 2025.
1996: medium deep crimson. absolutely gorgeous wine with fragrant cassis, lead pencil, praline, earthy, sage aromas. Beautifully smooth and concentrated palate with complex cassis, cedar and black truffle flavours and superb fresh chocolaty tannins. Finishes long with sweet cassis, praline, sage flavours and underlying savoury mocha notes. a hint of brettanomyces? very impressive wine nonetheless. 97 points. now – 2030.
1997: medium deep crimson. complex truffle, mint, sage, celery, silage and cassis aromas. well-concentrated wine with cassis, celery, spicy white-pepper flavours and lacy, dry tannins. Plenty of mid-palate buoyancy. Finishes chalky firm and long. Best to drink earlier rather than later.91 points. now – 2020.
1998: medium deep colour. Fragrant, ripe cassis, praline, cedar, vanilla and espresso aromas. lovely concentrated palate with pure, ripe blackcurrant and dark chocolate flavours and fine, plentiful, chalky dry tannins. lots of stuffing on the mid-palate, balanced out with lovely mocha and savoury oak. it finishes al-dente, but is long and flavourful. very impressive wine. 95 points. now – 2030.
1999: medium colour. intense and classical cassis, vanilla and tobacco
leaf aromas. elegant and powerful with saturated cassis flavours, plentiful chocolaty dry tannins, superb mid-palate richness and fruit complexity. underlying paneforte notes. minerally and fruit sweet at the finish. not as plush as 1998, but in some ways more classically and sinuously structured. will last forever. 96 points. now – 2040.
2000: under screwcap. medium deep crimson. Fresh blackcurrant and herb garden aromas with some chocolate and vanilla notes. medium-concentrated but generous blackcurrant, leafy herb-garden flavours and plentiful, chalky dry tannins. Finishes long and chocolaty. a savoury wine with emphasis on structure.86 points. now – 2020.
2001: medium deep crimson. intense blackcurrant, cranberry, tobacco and sage aromas with some savoury notes. well- concentrated wine with blackcurrant, dusty oak and tobacco flavours. Fine, loose-knit, chalky tannins. Finishes quite gravelly and long. Some leafy notes.87 points. now – 2030.
2002: Deep colour. lovely complex cassis, grilled nut and vanilla aromas with some herb and leafy notes. Deep-set cassis, praline and cedar flavours with underlying savoury and mocha oak. tannins are fine grained and slightly al dente. lovely freshness, complexity and vinosity at the finish. 97 points. now – 2040.
2003: Deep colour. intense dark chocolate, silage and mocha aromas with some floral notes. rich coffee and silage flavours, with muddy, chalky tannins and underlying savoury nuances. Finishes chocolaty and thick. lacks the refinement of style but has the stuffing to last a while. 83 points. now – 2025.
2004: medium deep colour. very fresh aromatic wine with scented cassis and rose petal aromas and underlying vanilla and mocha notes. classical with ripe cassis and musky plum flavours with herb garden notes, fine-grained cedar tannins and roasted-chestnut oak notes. Finishes firm and long. 98 points. now – 2040.
2005: Deep colour. Fresh and fragrant cassis, herb garden and praline aromas with hints of mint. well concentrated cassis and herb garden flavours, with fine-grained, leafy, sappy tannins and underlying mocha notes. Finishes chalky firm. 91 points. now – 2030.
2006: Deep colour. Blackcurrant, violet, toast and graphite aromas with some espresso notes. lovely pure cassis and roasted-chestnut flavours, with fine- grained, al-dente tannins and underlying chocolaty notes. Finishes long and sweet. Bloody good. 98 points. now – 2040.
2007: medium deep colour. intense plum, rhubarb, stewed fruit and apricot aromas. Fresh rhubarb, contrived fruit flavours of plum and sweet fruit, and supple, savoury tannins. Finishes firm and chalky. 84 points. now – 2035.
2008: Deep colour. Pure cassis aromas with underlying savoury, vanilla and herb notes. Still elemental but almost perfect. Superb cassis, grilled almond, paneforte, roasted chestnut and vanilla flavours, and loose-knit sweet tannins. Finishes long and sweet-fruited with plenty of roasted chestnut, vanilla and marzipan notes. utterly australian. 99 points. now – 2040.
2009: medium deep colour. Fresh blackcurrant and herb garden aromas
with a hint of spearmint. Beautifully concentrated blackcurrant, herb and sage aromas, with fine-grained, slightly gritty tannins and some roasted chestnut notes. Finishes quite minerally. tannin plume.
94 points. now – 2035.