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More of Italy's Finest


Gaia Gaja with Mauro Cirilli

Next winemakers to come into town was Gaia Gaja (the first and last name are actually pronounced the same way), the daughter of perhaps Italy's most famous winemaker, Angelo Gaja. Here is Gaia, sitting next to Mauro Cirilli, Perbacco's terrific sommelier.

The Gajas, father and daughter, produce many different wines, but are best known for the Nebbiolo-based wines from the Piedmont region of Italy, as well as for Brunello di Montalcino, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Each and every wine was phenomenal—darned expensive, too, but that hardly matters.  What was particularly interesting about this tasting is that the distributors of Gaja wines, which are Italian to their core, decided to serve them with the cuisine of  . . . Bong Su.

Typically the wine industry types who plan these events put the wine in context of its traditional cuisine, so it was a serious departure to see Nebbiolo and Sangiovese served with Ngo Om Chicken, Bun Cha Noodles and Papaya Salad. Daring, one might even say. (Although with the Gaja wines, there's not a lot of hard selling to do because everyone wants them.)

So how was the pairing? On the whole, it was quite successful. There were just a few instances when the intense flavors of lemongrass or curry conflicted with the wine. But it made it clear that Bong Su's wine list, which is global and has a lot of new world reds (unlike at Slanted Door) can be justified as a good thing. In other words, it’s possible to pair wines other than Riesling or Gruner Veltliner with Vietnamese food.

Bravo, Gaja!