Gaja Ca’ Marcanda Vistamare 2016

“To live is to war with trolls.” …  Henrik Ibsen

Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright and some of his work was required reading as a sophomore in my high school. He died in 1906. Who knew he could so early have foreseen the invention of the internet and its trolls?  And, perhaps, this opinion piece would have been better titled “What is the obligation of a wine critic”?  The problem is that I can think of nothing negative about this wine, respecting that all palates are personal and correct for the people owning them. Making it more complicated is that everyone is all a gaga over this wine, especially those most well-respected and famous. How then do I justify not sharing their view?  And should I only review wines that personally excite me?  That’s what I’ve usually done, but continuing in that fashion will require that I ignore some wines proclaimed by many and the important as great.  I don’t write negative reviews. But what to say about a wine that I think is not as special as those others would have you think it is?

I’m reminded of the 1932D quarter-dollar (U.S.) which can be worth 5,900% more than the same quarter without the D mint mark. Perception is reality. So be welcome to post your comments here, or just send your hate mail to In the meantime, let me explain why this wine is a quandary for me.

I enjoy Italian whites for their typicity of minerality and citrus. Gaja’s Vistamare has that. But typicity, by definition, means such is expected.  The problem is there is no problem!  No faults. No issue of the wine being out of balance.  Fruit and acidity all work well together.  Nothing smacks you.  Nothing in the glass or on your palate overshadows the other to the wine’s detriment.

Vistamare is the only white wine made by the Gaja Ca’ Marcanda estate. It is a limited production release and somewhat collectible. In that sense, it reminds me of the “D” on that quarter. In that sense, it seems to garner a cache that “snobs” may enjoy talking about. Then again, maybe I’m all wet as “they” say.

From Tuscany, it’s a blend of 60% Vermentino and 40% Viognier (how can you go wrong?).  It is medium lemon in the glass and offers sublime and well-balanced notes of citrus with pink grapefruit and lemon.  The citrus carries onto the palate and melds with interest-peaking herbal notes on the finish.  Others refer to “white peach and apricot, honey and jasmine.”

So far, you’ll notice, no problem. So far, you’ll notice, I have no complaints. So far, I’m kind of dragging it out.  But here’s another review: “Baked banana, vanilla pie, kumquat, white plum jam, white cocoa, white strawberry, nectarine, mango and marinated cucumber.”   Holy moly, was this the same wine I was tasting? 

I’m reminded of a trade tasting event where I and other critics met with the wine maker. One of them referred to tasting “golden nails.”  I had never chewed nails made of gold and thought (to myself) when is a stretch enough?  When can wine be good enough without it being stellar due to its cache or “limited release”?

The ARP of this wine is $49 (U.S.).  I can’t say anything negative about it. But I have to wonder, is the price propped by its perception?  Is it well made? Is it tasty? Yes, to both.  But is it distinctive enough to warrant that price?  For me, “not so much” (credit to Seinfeld). Your have my address and know where to send the hate mail.

……………….. Jim

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