My Column

    Gaja’s Super Barbaresco 

    It is September 2 and the sun has been punching holes in the mass of clouds spread over the village of Barbaresco all morning. By mid-day, the cloud cover has given up. The village and the surrounding vineyards are once again bathed in warm sunshine. Even though the driest and hottest harvest season in more than 70 years is behind us, the foliage of the vineyards surrounding the village still shines green and abundant, protecting the Nebbiolo bunches ripening on the vines from direct sunlight. I'm about to meet Giovanni Gaja soon, but I can't wait to stop my car on the side of the road to taste some Nebbiolos from the vine. They are small, thick-skinned, ripe and juicy with gentle tannins. Although the skins are soft and tasty, the color of the seeds reveals that the physiological ripeness of the grapes has not yet been reached. "The harvest of Nebbiolo grapes will start in about four weeks if the weather stays like this", Giovanni Gaja states a moment later in the Gaja castle. In front of us is a delicious flight of Gaja wines – Alteni di Brassica 2020 (sauvignon blanc), Gaia & Rey 2020 (chardonnay), Barbaresco 2019, Barolo Conteisa 2018 and Barolo Sperss 2018.


    The wines show great integrity and charming finesse. They have everything in them but nothing too much. Barbaresco and Barolo, in particular, surprise with their suppleness and approachability with such a young age. "Nebbiolo is a resilient variety and I believe it is one of the varieties that adapts well to the climate change at least for now and even benefits from it. Thanks to its thick skin, the grape can withstand heat better. At the same time, its tannin structure softens and the naturally high acidity lowers, resulting in wines that no longer require years of ageing to soften like before," sums up Giovanni. In the discussion about wines, he brings up his family's pride and crown jewel, Barbaresco, and the 2019 vintage. "Our Barbaresco is traditionally made from Nebbiolo grapes from fourteen different plots, but in 2019 and 2018 we boosted it with the grapes from Sorí Tildin and Costa Russi vineyards. Neither year did we produce these single vineyard Barbaresco wines. Some might wonder why, especially on 2019 which was a stable, warm and exceptional vintage. The reason for the decision yielded from the previous vintage 2018, which was a really difficult season – cold and rainy. The hail storms that raged in Barbaresco in July damaged numerous vineyards and especially the Sorí San Lorenzo vineyard. To ensure sufficient Barbaresco production, we used all grapes from Sorí Tildin and Costa Russi for the Barbaresco wine. Sorí San Lorenzo's vineyard had suffered such enormous damage that we sold off the entire crop. While the 2019 harvest was recognised as an exceptional quality, we found that the grapes in Sorí San Lorenzo vineyard ripened unevenly and were unbalanced. We therefore ended up selling the 2019 Sorí San Lorenzo crop as well and enriched the Barbaresco wine with the Sorí Tildin and Costa Russi fruit."


    So, when it comes to 2019 Gaja Barbaresco, it can be called as a Super Barbaresco. The 2018 harvest instead, proved to be exceptionally challenging, but still the most 2018 Barolos and Barbarescos I have tasted charm with delicate elegance. The tannins are silky and refined and the wines deliciously enjoyable even now at a young age. Many have stated that the 2018 wines are short-lived, referring to the cold and rainy year, but I disagree. The wines of the esteemed producers such as Gaja will evolve in the bottle and offer pleasures in the 2030s. The elegantly composed Conteisa and Sperss offer a promise of that, as do numerous other 2018 wines I've tasted. On the other hand,... why wait for years, not to say decades, when the wines offer enjoyable taste experiences already today! 


    Alteni di Brassica 2020 (JL 93)

    Fresh and elegantly aromatic. Lovely passionfruit and tomato leaf nose with fine touch of oak. The palate is dry and crisp with broad mouthfilling texture. The fruit is vibrant and harmoniously lingering finish leaves tranquil and elegant aftertaste with some spices. Serves well already but benefits for 2-3 years’ ageing. (JL 93p, Sept 2, 2022)

     Gaia & Rey 2020 (JL 94)

    Rich and expressive nose with ripe white fruit aromas and charming tastiness. The dry palate is vivid yet brought and round. Touch of burnt butter flavour is rinsed with citrus notes. Vibrant toasty notes in the lingering finish. Decant for an hour and serve at 10-12°C with panfried turbot, or grilled Skrei with chanterelles. Drinks well already but will benefit for 3-4 years’ ageing. (JL 94p, Sept 2, 2022)


    Barbaresco 2019 (JL 96+)

    Refined and complex nose charms with spectrum of aromas – perfumey, violets, spices, ripe cherries and cranberries and smoky tones. Full-bodied palate is rich and vibrant with smooth texture and gentle chalky tannin structure. A long and balanced finish with firm and good tension.  Drinks well already but will reveal its true colours in 8-10 years time. (JL 96+p, Sept 2, 2022)


    Barolo Conteisa 2018 (JL 97)

    Intense, rich, toasty nose with spicy, floral notes. Full-bodied palate with vibrant ripe red fruit character – cherries and cranberries. Vivid acidity and very polished yet firm tannins are delicately integrated with the fruit. Super smooth, silky and refine finish is lingering and harmonious. True to classic La Morra style. Superb already but will evolve well for next 8-10 years. (JL 97p, Sept 2, 2022)


    Barolo Sperss 2018 (JL 95+)

    The nose express well the Serralunga d’Alba terroir. Rich and complex with dark cacao and earthy notes  Full-bodied palate shows great concentration formed by the acidity, minerality, and intense fruit character. The tannins are firm but supple. Long and intense finish. Superb Barolo that is already impressive and enjoyable but will definitely bloom after 5-7 years cellaring.  (JL 95+p, Sept 2, 2022)



    My Yesterday

    Juha Lihtonen is one of the most succeeded sommeliers in Nordics. This manyfold sommelier champion of his country won the title of the Best Nordic Sommelier in 2003. After sommelier competitions, he finished his WSET Diploma studies and continued the studies in Masters of Wine programme in London.

    On 2000 he founded the Wine Academy of Helsinki, where he run sommelier and wine waiter trainings. He published his first book in 2002 about comibining food and wine. This book was followed by several other ones, and he became active wine writer for several publications in Finland. He hosted a weekly national wine and food radio programme and launched his first food and wine application 'Matchart' with Nokia mobiles in 2003.

    From 2003 to 2007 he was the wine buyer of Silja Line – one of the biggest passenger ferry operators in the world. During this period he was also in charge of the ferries restaurant service and concept development.

    In 2006 he founded FINE Wine Magazines together with his friends Pekka Nuikki and Essi Avellan MW. He has worked for FINE Wine Magazines as their Editor since 2007. He is also the founder member of Tastingbook.com.


    Pro Me

    Juha Lihtonen is the co-founder of tastingbook.com. He is also known as the co-founder and Editor of the world's leading fine wine publications, FINE Magazines. In 2008, he founded together with Pekka Nuikki and Essi Avellan MW the magazine that was dedicated exclusively to champagne. FINE Champagne Magazine is the world's one and only champagne magazine.



Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  17 Wines  from  16 Producers 

What a suprising tasting with such great experiences. The most intersting was Dominus 1992 (97p) vs Lafite 1988 (97p). Very close each others – flavours were almost the same, in texture Lafite showed more vibrant mineral savouryness. Still La Landonne 2009 (98p) overtook the two on the podium.  

22h 47min ago

 Ca' del Baio  has updated producer and wine information

11d 4h ago

Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  17 Wines  from  2 Producers 

Day one in Barolo 2019 & Barbaresco 2020 tastings.  Lovely and very impressive wines from both Andrea Sottimano and Mauro Veglio. Sottimano shows its true potential weith its Sottimano 2001 and 2010 vintages.

11d 15h ago

Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  46 Wines  from  35 Producers 

The 100 Best Champagnes 2023 last set of champagnes tasted. Another solid line up with some superb champagnes such as Rare Rosé 2012, Moët&Chandon Grand Vintage Collection 2006 and Bollinger La Côte Aux Enfants 2012!

1m 18d ago

Grand Vintage Collection 2006, Moët & Chandon
Brut Réserve NV (10's), Pol Roger
Brut Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Joseph Perrier
La Côte à Bras Parcelle AH 83 Blanc de Noirs 2014, Joseph Perrier
Brut Réserve NV (10's), Charles Heidsieck
Brut Millésimé 2013, Charles Heidsieck
Bleu Brut NV (10's), Besserat de Bellefon
Cuvée Louis Salmon Blanc de Blancs 2008, Billecart-Salmon
La Côte aux Enfants 2012, Bollinger
Belle Epoque 2013, Perrier-Jouët
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Perrier-Jouët
Prelude NV (10's), Taittinger
Rare Rose 2012, Piper-Heidsieck
Cuvée V Vintage 2012, Canard-Duchêne
Millésime 2014, Cattier
Prestige 2008, Comtes de Dampierre
Fleur de Champagne Brut Premier Cru NV (10's), Duval-Leroy
Femme de Champagne 2002, Duval-Leroy
Grand Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Gosset
Grande Réserve NV (10's), Gosset
Black Label NV (10's), Lanson
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Laurent-Perrier
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Pommery
Cuvée Orium NV (10's), Tsarine
Thienot x Penfolds Blanc de Noirs Lot 3-175 2013, Penfolds
Extra Brut NV (10's), Barons de Rothschild
Unique Oger Blanc de Blancs 2014, Chapuy
Blanc de blancs vintage 2015, Chapuy
Cuvée Sélection Brut NV (10's), Collard-Picard
Blanc de Blancs Brut 2012, Paul Goerg
Blanc de Blancs Brut NV (10's), Paul Goerg
Blanc de Blancs vintage 2015, Jacquart
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Rosé Solera NV (10's), Palmer & Co
Belemnita 2009, Philippe Gonet
Blanc de Noirs NV (10's), Gonet-Médeville
Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut NV (10's), Edouard Brun
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Edouard Brun
Rosé Vrai Extra Brut NV (10's), Gremillet
Comte de Marne Brut NV (10's), Charles Mignon
Comte de Marne Rosé Grand Cru NV (10's), Charles Mignon
Brut NV (10's), Prestige des Sacres
Blanc de Blancs NV (10's), Vincent d'Astrée
Brut Meunier Chardonnay NV (10's), Vincent d'Astrée
Atavique NV (10's), Mouzon Leroux & Fils
Cuvée 1809 NV (10's), A.D. Coutelas

 Vigna Petrussa  has updated producer and wine information

2m 20d ago

Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  17 Wines  from  16 Producers 

A charming flight of wines with the tasty 6 course dinner. The most impressing wines of the night were Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc 2016 and Gaja Barbaresco 2019. Once again I was very charmed by the Bass Phillip Bin 17K Pinot Noir......   

2m 21d ago

Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  6 Wines  from  1 Producers 

The New Zealand's Escarpment winery in Martinborough has a charming lineup of terroir-driven pinot noirs that challenge the best pinot noirs of Central Otago. 

3m 22d ago

Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  had a tasting of  52 Wines  from  43 Producers 

The 1990s 100 tasting delivered the expectations. So many great wines, but only one 100 point wine for me – Harlan Estate 1994. Mouton-Rothschild 99p and Pétrus 1990s 98+p closely behind. 

4m 12d ago

Cheval Blanc 1999, Château Cheval Blanc
Cheval Blanc 1996, Château Cheval Blanc
Sassicaia 1997, Tenuta San Guido
Le Pin 1993, Le Pin
Château Latour 1995, Château Latour
Pétrus 1990, Château Pétrus
Château Margaux 1990, Château Margaux
Château Haut-Brion 1995, Château Haut-Brion
Harlan Estate 1994, Harlan Estate
Harlan Estate 1994, Harlan Estate
Screaming Eagle 1999, Screaming Eagle
Château Mouton-Rothschild 1990, Château Mouton-Rothschild
Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1992, Heitz Cellar
Côte-Rôtie La Turque 1998, E.Guigal
Côte-Rôtie La Landonne 1999, E.Guigal
Hermitage Red 1998, E.Guigal
Grange Hermitage 1996, Penfolds
Masseto 1997, Ornellaia
Dominus 1992, Dominus Estate
Dominus 1991, Dominus Estate
La Mission Haut Brion 1998, Château La Mission Haut-Brion
Sori Tildin 1995, Gaja
Conteisa 1996, Gaja
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1995, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Hermitage La Chapelle 1991, Paul Jaboulet & Âiné
Barolo Bussia Munie 1993, Giacomo Conterno
Hill of Grace 1991, Henschke
Eden Valley Semillon Louis 1996, Henschke
Montrose 1990, Château Montrose
Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux-Saint-Jacques 1995, Louis Jadot
Hommage à Jacques Perrin 1999, Château de Beaucastel
Ridge Monte Bello 1997, Ridge Vineyards
Ridge Monte Bello 1993, Ridge Vineyards
Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, Colgin Cellars
904 Gran Reserva 1992, La Rioja Alta
Château Musar 1997, Château Musar
Maya 1994, Dalla Valle
Domaine de Chevalier 1990, Domaine de Chevalier
Spätburgunder Sonneberg Trocken 1993, Weingut Freiherr Langwerth Von Simmern
Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, Caymus Vineyards
Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, Caymus Vineyards
Il Caberlot 1999, Podere Il Carnasciale
Barolo Cannubi Boschis 1996, Luciano Sandrone
Excelsus 1995, Castello Banfi
RunRig 1998, Torbreck
The Dead Arm Shiraz 1997, d'Arenberg
Osar 1996, Masi
The Armagh 1991, Jim Barry Wines
Marlbrook 1991, Klein Constantia
Loibner Gelber Muskateller Smaragd 1995, Emmerich Knoll
Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Tahbilk Winery
Barolo Vigna Mandorlo 1996, Giacosa Fratelli
Luciano Sandrone, Piedmont, Italy
Masi, Vapolicella, Italy
Giacosa Fratelli, Piedmont, Italy
Château Mouton-Rothschild, Bordeaux, France
Weingut Freiherr Langwerth Von Simmern, Rheingau, Germany
Podere Il Carnasciale, Chianti, Italy
Le Pin, Bordeaux, France
Harlan Estate, Napa Valley, United States
Jim Barry Wines, Clare Valley, Australia
Dalla Valle, Napa Valley, United States
Screaming Eagle, Napa Valley, United States
Château Haut-Brion, Bordeaux, France
Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac Leognan, France
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Bordeaux, France
Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Bordeaux, France
Château Pétrus, Pomerol, France
Château Margaux, Bordeaux, France
Giacomo Conterno, Piedmont, Italy
Paul Jaboulet & Âiné, Rhône, France
Colgin Cellars, Napa Valley, United States
Château Latour, Bordeaux, France
Penfolds , South Australia, Australia
Heitz Cellar, Napa Valley, United States
Louis Jadot, Burgundy, France
Dominus Estate, Napa Valley, United States
E.Guigal, Rhône, France
Château Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Tahbilk Winery, Victoria, Australia
Château Cheval Blanc, Bordeaux, France
Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz, United States
Klein Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa
Château de Beaucastel, Rhône, France
La Rioja Alta, Rioja, Spain
Torbreck, Barossa Valley, Australia
d'Arenberg, South Australia, Australia
Ornellaia, Tuscany, Italy
Castello Banfi, Tuscany, Italy
Tenuta San Guido, Tuscany, Italy
Château Montrose, Bordeaux, France
Henschke, Eden Valley, Australia
Emmerich Knoll, Wachau, Austria
Gaja, Barbaresco, Italy
Caymus Vineyards, Napa Valley, United States
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BWW 2023 - Best Wine of the World competition



BWW- The Best Wine of the World 2023 -competition

"We believed the opinion of 10,000 consumers or 1,000 professionals to be more correct and more significant than a small group of wine professionals.”


BWW-The Best Wine of the World-competition is by far the toughest wine competition on this planet. Unlike any other industry competition, less than 1% of the wines involved will be awarded. 

BWW is also the largest wine competition: The BWW competition 2021 was held in the world's largest wine information service - tastingbook.com. 21,556 wines received in total 3,569,711 votes from 349,000 wine professionals and wine lovers from 116 countries during the three months voting period.