G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2018
The true Beauty of Albe is the caress of the sun that rises three times every morning over our vineyards. It’s the exceptional simplicity of nature that makes the awakening of life an everyday miracle. 2018 is a radiant vintage with beautiful early balance and yet great potential of improvement over time. This is a particularly favorable year for the best exposed sites and for high elevation and well ventilated vineyards. All the wines are fragrant, deliciously aromatic, with fine tannins and a balance reminiscent of 2004. Like all late vintages, the 2018 Barolos require patience, yet offer gorgeous drinkability today already.
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This wine consistently delivers one of the greatest values to be found in Italian wine. The G.D. Vajra 2018 Barolo Albe has all its cards in play as an immediately enjoyable and extremely food-friendly Nebbiolo. This really is the top of the category in that sense. With straightforward winemaking (fermentation is in steel and aging in large Slavonian oak casks), the wine offers bold cherry, wild plum and plenty of fragrant blue flower and violet. This vintage has the added benefit of softly textured richness. Rating: 93+
Aromas of ripe raspberries and dark spice follow through to a medium-to full-bodied palate, with some fine, fruit and spice-coated tannin and a medium finish that firms up at the end.
A taut, sinewy red, this keeps cherry, strawberry, floral and underbrush flavors under a wrap of tannins for now. Overall, the components are well-proportioned, and this ends with complexity, harmony and length.
The Vajra family has farmed Bricco delle Viole, the highest cru in Comune di Barolo, since the 1880s. At the young age of fifteen, Aldo Vajra embraced the dream to revive his family legacy. Displaying a vision and commitment belying his young age he took over the estate in 1968, turning a new page.
Aldo soon acquired the first organic certification of the region (1971), created private biotype selections (selezioni massali) of Nebbiolo and Dolcetto, pioneered the renaissance of Freisa, a noble yet forgotten local grape (1980) and the cultivation of Rhine Riesling in Piemonte (1985).
Today, the Vajra family continues the vineyard research focusing on the influence of soil and climate change. The winery is trail-blazing the rediscovery of Chiaretto di Nebbiolo and the wines of the 17th century – long before Barolo was created - through two limited-production wines: “N.S. della Neve” (a champagne-method rosé nature) and “Claré JC”, a partial whole-cluster fermentation of pure Nebbiolo.
High elevation vineyards are a unique factor to the Vajra wines, for their ability to express finesse and remarkable complexity over power.
Attention to details and humility towards the nature, uncompromised efforts and humanity: so are Aldo and Milena, now joined by their energetic children Giuseppe, Francesca and Isidoro, and by an amazing team of young professionals, in their quest for an authentic expression of their land into the wines. G.D. Vajra is an independent winery, entirely family-owned.
The center of the production of the world’s most exclusive and age-worthy red wines made from Nebbiolo, the Barolo wine region includes five core townships: La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and the Barolo village itself, as well as a few outlying villages. The landscape of Barolo, characterized by prominent and castle-topped hills, is full of history and romance centered on the Nebbiolo grape. Its wines, with the signature “tar and roses” aromas, have a deceptively light garnet color but full presence on the palate and plenty of tannins and acidity. In a well-made Barolo wine, one can expect to find complexity and good evolution with notes of, for example, strawberry, cherry, plum, leather, truffle, anise, fresh and dried herbs, tobacco and violets.
There are two predominant soil types here, which distinguish Barolo from the lesser surrounding areas. Compact and fertile Tortonian sandy marls define the vineyards farthest west and at higher elevations. Typically the Barolo wines coming from this side, from La Morra and Barolo, can be approachable relatively early on in their evolution and represent the “feminine” side of Barolo, often closer in style to Barbaresco with elegant perfume and fresh fruit.
On the eastern side of the Barolo wine region, Helvetian soils of compressed sandstone and chalks are less fertile, producing wines with intense body, power and structured tannins. This more “masculine” style comes from Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba. The township of Castiglione Falletto covers a spine with both soil types.
The best Barolo wines need 10-15 years before they are ready to drink, and can further age for several decades.
Responsible for some of the most elegant and age-worthy wines in the world, Nebbiolo, named for the ubiquitous autumnal fog (called nebbia in Italian), is the star variety of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Grown throughout the area, as well as in the neighboring Valle d’Aosta and Valtellina, it reaches its highest potential in the Piedmontese villages of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. Outside of Italy, growers are still very much in the experimentation stage but some success has been achieved in parts of California. Somm Secret—If you’re new to Nebbiolo, start with a charming, wallet-friendly, early-drinking Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d'Alba.