Several years ago, Lynette, a friend of friend, went on a buying spree and bought a lot of Gaja. With no space to store it. That's where Dan came in and generously offered to store the lot in exchange for once a year Gaja uncorking. Lynette agreed but only if Dan hosted a cozy dinner with gastronomic accoutrements worthy of Gaja.
And thus the annual "Gaja and Burgers" night was born.
Of course, Dan the gourmand would not make just any burgers. His are from special grass-fed beef, with all kinds of garden herbs inside, thick and grilled on a smoker grill to a juice-dripping perfection. Served on a bun with slices of heirloom tomato, shiso (in place of lettuce, this is a key move), and marinated pickles, with just a splash of mustard, oooh and uhhhh, Gaja never had is this good :)!
We opened Lynette's Gaja Gromis 2000 - a wine of impeccable Barolo typicity and balance, drinking perfectly now, and capable of lasting a lot longer! If that is intro-level Barolo for Gaja, then imagine what the single-vineyard legends are like! 2000 was a very highly rated vintage in Barolo, however, it also has a reputation for over-ripeness and lower acidity, not quite to the extent of 2003, but in that vein. Does it surprise you that Wine Spectator rated 2000 a 100-point vintage? Most Barolo lovers much prefer the 2001 and 2004 vintages. However, I've now had Gaja Gromis 2000 and Dagromis 2003 (same wine, re-labeled after 2000?) and both were fantastic. Gaja lives up to his reputation as the top Barolo / Barbaresco wine producer in the world. The quality of his wines shines through every bottling, even his lower-end wines such as Ca'Marcanda Promis (blend of Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese), Sito Moresco (blend of Nebbiolo, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon), and many others.
Shhhh, don't tell Lynette or Dan, but the elegant "forest floor meets faded flowers" Barolo didn't really go with the beefy burgers. A Super-Tuscan Ca'Marcanda Promis 2004 and Giuseppe Mascarello Dolcetto d'Alba Bricco 2007 albeit lowlier wines, actually did better in pairing. But who the hell cares?! - it's Gaja, for heaven's sakes - it goes with EVERYTHING!!! Especially those amazing plump patties of ground cow!
P.S. John took a burger to the hospital to his pregnant wife. The grande deliciousness finally pushed her over the edge, as that very night after devouring the said burger, a new world inhabitant named Serafina was born. Long life, health, and happiness to the baby and the happy parents!