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Delhi Wine Club
Wine Ambassador of Gaja

Posted: Thursday, 12 July 2012 11:07

Passing By: Wine Ambassador of Gaja

July 12 : Michela Inghese, Wine Ambassador of Gaja Wines who is in India to meet various stakeholders is based in Piedmont at the Gaja winery and visits global strategic markets in order to improve customer relations as well as for wine education for sales team member, especially the end-customers of Gaja distributors, writes Subhash Arora who met her at Le Cirque for an exclusive tasting of three wines including the iconic Gaja Barbaresco

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Michela joined Gaja 3 years ago, at their Ca’Marcanda winery in Bolgheri where they produce Promis, and the Bordeaux blends -Magari and Camarcanda. She later spent a year in the Montalcino winery, Pieve Santa Restituta where she was in charge of all public relations and handled all the visits to winery. Since last year she has been based in Barbaresco.

With Angelo Gaja being an icon and more of an international celebrity and spokesman for Gaja, his daughter Gaia has been taking on more and more responsibilities that include travelling throughout the world, meeting Gaja customers. With the current soft global market that requires more visibility and stronger push, Michela has been seconded to assist her boss Gaia Gaja to cover some of the territories, the current trip being one such example. More such trips are on the card, ‘though it does not mean Gaia is cutting back on her foreign visits. It’s just that I am assisting her in her job of looking after exports,’ she clarifies.

The good humoured brunette is an effusive admirer of her immediate boss Gaia, a celebrity-in-the-making. ‘She is so down-to earth and such a serious person who is very much focused on results. She has no time for trivial matters and if I stray into that territory sometimes, she gives me a look that makes me remember it for a long time,’ adding ‘she explains everything to me in such a grounded way. I am so happy and used to this way of working that sometimes I worry if my job profile may change,’ admits the wine ambassador.

Of course she is quite overawed and a big fan of Angelo who is ‘a celebrity and a show master’. Having studied in Germany and Italy economics, and a few wine courses and with experience of the German market, ‘I did not just walk in to Gaja and got the job’, she admits. An Italian national born to Italian parents in Stuttgart, she grew up in German atmosphere which she found too cold and precise. ‘I was always looking for the Italian warm culture, the sun and the terroir. I wanted to be a part of Italy. One possibility was tourism but I don’t like the Italian tourism; it is consumption for 2 weeks and then throwing it away,’ says Michela. ‘Looking for Italian sun and warmth, I decided to pick up wine as a career and was very happy when I got the job for 6 months as a temporary replacement at Ca’marcanda.

Click For Large View‘I had been on the job for 3 days when I met Angelo Gaja for the first time as he came from Piemonte’, she says as she proceeds to share her first encounter with Angelo.’ He has been a celebrity and my hero for long,  so I was very nervous, trying to be prim and proper, with full knowledge that Piemontese are very formal and upright and take time to open up. As it was,  I could hardly believe that they would let me taste all the wonderful wines and then even pay me at the month-end! Angelo is such a gentleman and a kind person that he explained in detail to me- the lowest level employee in the winery, then wore his hat and took me  around the vineyard and winery. I was so nervous that I kept on taking notes furiously about every little thing he said. Now, whenever he says something, I feel already know it.‘

Michela feels that Angelo saw the passion for wine in her eyes and if that is all that was required she’s had it made, she says in jest. After spending a year each, in all 3 wineries- she says, ‘Angelo is very intelligent and has good capacity to watch people and give them the best.  Perhaps that’s why the role of Gaja Wine Ambassador was created for me. I was good in office work but frankly hated it. This is a dream job for me’, she adds.

With Gaia getting busier, does she feel she can replace Gaia for exports? ‘I really hope so. In fact, it is my secret desire that I will be in that position one day,’ admits Michela.

Tasting wine with every customer can become a chore sometimes. Not when you are tasting Gaja, she says. ‘It is an experience every time’, she asserts. ‘Even this Promis (2009), for instance, an entry level wine has the qualities of a very good wine and it is such easy  drinking wine that one can enjoy on its own too’. She is equally effusive about Gromis 2006, the value-for-money Barolo from Gaja. ‘It has been made to drink young. It’s so balanced and approachable -and it is from Gaja! I agree with her but tell her that she should push the importer Brindco, to get a deal on the purchase of a pair of Promis ($47) and Gromis ($87)  at the duty free shop so that the incoming passengers are induced to pick up the beauties.

Click For Large ViewBarbaresco 2008 we tasted was very young but had all the trappings of a great vintage. Quite an elegant wine with nose full of cherries and plums and a flavour that had shades of spices, it is not ready to show its best yet but still can be enjoyed with proper food-preferably mutton and kebabs-and of course steaks. A very homogenous wine that will age for decades but alas- it’s too expensive for an average affluent Indian. In any case it is available neither at retail nor duty-free shops- and hotels would hardly offer a good deal on the wine which costs upwards of $200 overseas. But a great benchmark for what Gaja has done for the Nebbiolo grape-based wines and brought Barbaresco branding to the world- a lot of which Michela Inghese will be traversing in future as the wine ambassador or in whatever capacity.

Subhash Arora  


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