G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2016
The 2016 Albe has textbook aromatics: rose petals, rose hips, cherry stones on the nose, followed by delicate tones of Nebbiolo pomace, tar, cranberries and raspberries, mint, anise, gentle musk and a whiffle of white pepper. In the palate, it’s fragrant and uplifting, yet disclosing a rich texture, a fresh but poised mid palate and velvety tannins. Authentic and expressive, Albe beautifully celebrates Barolo and the amazing craft of assembling vineyards.
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If you were to consider the entire portfolio of wines made in the Barolo appellation, this wine always stands in its own little corner. Albe is a brand on its own, and it represents one of the most versatile, accessible and well-priced Baroli to emerge from the appellation. The G.D. Vajra 2016 Barolo Albe sets off on the right foot, offering forthcoming intensity with forest fruit, wild cherry, crushed stone and blue flowers. Winemaking is straightforward in stainless steel, and the wine finishes in Slavonian oak casks.
Aromas of woodland berry, new leather, camphor and pressed rose waft out of the glass. Juicy and delicious, the chewy palate doles out succulent Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry and white pepper. Polished tannins and fresh acidity give it an immediate appeal but this also offers several years of drinking pleasure. Drink through 2028.
Elegant and expressive, this red evokes cherry, raspberry and floral notes, aligned to a refined structure. This is balanced and leaves an aftertaste of fruit, tobacco and iron. Best from 2023 through 2043.
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 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, 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 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 soils 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.