G.D. Vajra Italian wines by Ian Brosnan

G.D. Vajra

This estate was established in 1972, by Aldo Vajra’s father, Giuseppe Domenico. The vineyards had been in the family since the 1920s, but it was only with the advent
of the D.O.C. and the increase in interest for Barolo in the early 1970s, that viticulture became economically viable. Aldo has gradually increased the area under vine to the current 40 hectares, ten of which are planted with Nebbiolo for his Barolo, located in such prized vineyards as Bricco delle Viole, Fossati, La Volta and Coste di Vergne.
The vineyards are situated about 400 metres above sea level in the village of Vergne, in the commune of Barolo, on the western border of the zone. Vajra’s vineyards ripen later than many others in the zone, with the result that his Barolos have always been quite distinctive: wines with fresh and lifted aromas, showing a judicious acidity that balances the generous fruit to give a lively and crisp style.

Aldo’s son Giuseppe was in ely winebar to host a tasting dinner, pairing their exceptional wines to our wonderful food!
We kicked things off with their unique Langhe Bianco ‘Petracine’ , an old Latin name for Riesling. A pale lemon colour, it had a wonderfully zesty perfume, crisp apple and lemon fruit and a long clean finish. A perfect way to begin any evening!

First of the reds was the Dolcetto, a grape Giuseppe suggested is often considered an ugly duckling in Piedmonte but he likes to think of it as a moody teenager- it needs constant attention and showering with love in order to fulfil its potential. This one certainly did – it possessed a wonderful depth of colour, a fragrance of blue and black berries and a herbal hint on the finish.

The Barbera grapes are sourced from 6 vineyards; in 3 areas on 2 different soil types, and it is the blend of these that gives this wine it exceptional balance. Fresh berry and black cherry on the nose, the palate is ripe with crisp acidity and elegant tannins. Both wines were tasted alongside a first course of rose Veal meatballs, tomato broth and gremolata. The room was split over which worked better, but at a push, I’d have to choose the Dolcetto (it might be the moody teenager in me!).

Then the main event – the ‘Le Albe’ and ‘Bricco delle Viole’ Barolos. The 2007 ‘Le Albe’ was unquestionably the ely staff pick of the night – yes, we all have to try them after work- and quite honestly one of the best value Barolos I have tasted in a long time. While 2007 may seem young for Barolo, the ‘Le Albe’ had a ruby-garnet colour and a wonderfully exotic nose of dried plums, cherries and floral notes. The palate showed typical Nebbiolo characteristics- excellent acidity and fine but persistent tannins- coupled with a rich, fleshy texture. More than simply accessible, this wine is extremely enjoyable now but no doubt has a long and bright future ahead.
The ‘Bricco delle Viole’ vineyard is the jewel in the crown of the Vajra properties, situated 400 metres above sea level in the commune of Barolo and with many of the vines over 50 years old. The altitude and long ripening period gives the wine an aromatic complexity and ripeness not often found in Barolo. We were fortunate enough to have the 2003; showing a beautiful garnet colour and a complex nose of violets, rose, orange peel and dark cherry. The finely grained tannins, wonderful purity and depth of flavour, and impeccable balance are all hallmarks of this superb wine. Both wines were paired with roast breast of Barbary Duck, potato and truffle terrine, samphire and Madeira jus.
And then came the surprise of the evening- Vajra Moscato d’asti. Light, effervescent and wonderfully fruity, this is one of the most refreshing things I’ve ever tasted. Passion fruit on the nose, clean sweetness on the palate, and, at only 5.5% alcohol, no limit to how many glasses you can have. While we tasted it with orange blossom pannacotta, it could just as easily be enjoyed on its own, the perfect end to a remarkable meal.

Our thanks to Giuseppe Vajra and Ben Reynolds (Liberty Wines) from  for all their help.

Visit us at elywinebar.com

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