2017 Barolo, Bricco delle Viole, G.D. Vajra, Piedmont, Italy
About this WINE
G. D. Vajra
Based in Vergne, the highest village in the commune of Barolo, GD Vajra is a relatively young estate. It was established by Aldo Vajra in 1972, when he was just 16. His father had planted vineyards in 1947 but “said I was mad”, Aldo later recollected, when he followed his childhood dream to become a winemaker. Taking over the family estate in 1968, he pursued his passion with zeal. One of the early pioneers of organic farming, in 1971 the estate became one of the first in Piedmont to be organically certified. To safeguard their unique identity and character, a programme of massal selection was introduced of his grandfather’s vines. Estate bottling was introduced in 1978.
Until now, their wines have somewhat flown under the radar, but it’s with good reason that the estate has been described as “one of Piedmont’s best kept secrets… with sublime hand-crafted, artisan wines of the very highest level”.
In the words of Giuseppe, Aldo’s eldest son, 2018 was “a vineyard vintage not winery”: 30 days of heavy rain from May to June meant a lot of work in the vineyards and rigorous selection of fruit, even before the estate’s customary triple hand-sorting on entering the winery. Their focus on vinifying small plots individually was also important, enabling them to work precisely and showcase the best of the vintage. This has resulted in fresh, mid-weight wines with silky, approachable tannins.
Chianti Classico is a leading Tuscan DOCG zone which covers approximately 7,000 hectares between Florence and Siena. Its vineyards stretch into the Apennine foothills at altitudes of between 150m and 500m, and encompass two distinct terroirs and styles. The sandy, alluvial soils of the lower sites yield fuller, meatier wines while the limestone and galestro rocks of the higher vineyards deliver finer, more ethereal examples.
The origins of Chianti date back to the Middle Ages, although Chianti Classico was really born in 1716 when Grand Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany classified the zone, identifying the villages of Radda, Greve, Panzano, Gaiole and Castellina as the leading sites; these same villages still represent the nucleus of the Chianti Classico DOCG today. The regulations have been revised, however, to insist that the wine is made from a minimum 80 percent Sangiovese and a maximum 20 percent Canaiolo and ameliorative grapes (ie Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon); from the 2006 vintage, no white grapes are allowed.
Chianti Classico cannot be released until 1st October in the year following the harvest, while Chianti Classico Riserva must undergo 24 months of ageing before release, including at least three months in bottle. At the region’s top addresses, French barriques are gradually being adopted in the place of the traditional, larger slavonian botte.
Recommended Producers: Monte Bernardi, Tenuta Fontodi, Castelo di Ama, Bibbiano
Nebbiolo is the grape behind the Barolo and Barbaresco wines and is hardly ever seen outside the confines of Piedmont. It takes its name from "nebbia" which is Italian for fog, a frequent phenomenon in the region.
A notoriously pernickety grape, it requires sheltered south-facing sites and performs best on the well-drained calcareous marls to the north and south of Alba in the DOCG zones of Barbaresco and Barolo.
Langhe Nebbiolo is effectively the ‘second wine’ of Piedmont’s great Barolo & Barbarescos. This DOC is the only way Langhe producers can declassify their Barolo or Barbaresco fruit or wines to make an early-drinking style. Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo can be cut with 15% other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto.
Nebbiolo flowers early and ripens late, so a long hang time, producing high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins; the challenge being to harvest the fruit with these three elements ripe and in balance. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are perfumed with aromas of tar, rose, mint, chocolate, liquorice and truffles. They age brilliantly and the very best need ten years to show at their best.
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