2016 G.D. Vayjra, Barolo, Coste di Rose, Piedmonte, Italy.
Readers of my reviews will certainly know about G.D. Vajra, one of my favorite producers in the world and one of Barolo’s stars with a collection of fantastic Cru bottlings, this includes their signature Bricco Delle Viole, their Ravera and this exotic Coste di Rose Barolo, the newest in the Cru lineup and the most fruit forward with a lavish full bodied palate. This 2016 is wonderfully textural, rich and silken as well as structured to age with a fabulous depth of flavors, showcasing the nature of place and vintage, a year that I am loving more and more each time I try it, especially when it is made by Giuseppe Vajra, who’s wines always impress. The Vajra estate was one of the first in the region to convert to organic farming and continue to lead in this regard and they have some of the highest parcels in Barolo, taking advantage of the cooling influence to increase the hang time to achieve full ripeness without heavy character or high alcohol. The Coste di Rose is a small Cru in Comune di Barolo that It is located on a high elevation steep slope that arises from Bosco della Fava and descends swiftly towards the border with Monforte d’Alba, as the winery notes, set on unique deep sandy soils. The 2016 has fantastic layering and a gorgeous mouth feel showing classic black cherries, damson plum, framboise, reduced orange along with a sprig of mint, tarry black licorice, cedar wood notes and a heighten rose petal perfume. This special site includes a five-meter tall sand dune, which has earned the Coste di Rose the nickname “The Beach” and this vineyard is its own distinct terroir that delivers extraordinary fruit density, but with impeccable balance and purity, I would compare Coste di Rose to Burgundy’s famous Bonnes Mare Grand Cru, while the Vajra’s Bricco Delle Viole is more reserved and chiseled in manner of Musigny. Having tasted many comparative vintages of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue, Musigny vs Bonnes Mares including 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996 as well as 2000 and 2001, I can say, these Vajra Crus are in the same league!
The Coste di Rose Cru Barolo from a unique vineyard site high in the hills and set on deep sands, so sandy in fact the Vajra’s call this site the beach, over marl and clay soils that gives this Nebbiolo its awesome perfume and amazing texture. The estate of GD Vajra is situated in Vergne, the highest village in the Commune of Barolo with Nebbiolo, being the main varietal, but also planted with Dolcetto, Barbera, Freisa, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and of course their legendary Riesling, which is one of my favorites, to name a few. The vineyards are at heights of 350-400 meters, which plays a big part in the wines’ complexity and aromatic quality that winemaker Giuseppe Vajra achieves with his amazing collection of offerings. I first tasted the Coste di Rose at last years Slow Wine Tasting in San Francisco and reviewed the 2015 vintage here, so I knew this was going to be a special wine, coming from a vintage that will certainly go down as one the legendary years in the Barolo region, and I was not let down, this is a gorgeous Nebbiolo that should get better and better over the next two decades. The Vajra Barolo wines, like this one, see about (a) 30-40 day cuvaison, which allows for a gentle extraction the tannins from the skins, also Vajra notes, that there is a small percentage of stems are left in durning the maceration and primary fermentation depending on the vintage, riper years see more. The G.D. Vajra wines are not adorned with flashy sweet/toast French barriques, these wines are exceptionally pure and transparent versions of Barolo and the wines are aged in large (mostly older) Slovenian oak barrels for between 42-48 months before bottling. While every release of these Vajra Barolo offerings merit your attention, I highly recommend chasing down these 2016s and getting them into your cellar! I hope to re-visit the Vajra 2016s in a decade somehow, they should be even more amazing at that point and in the meantime I suggest drinking the 2013 and 2015 versions, both of these vintages offer exceptional quality and can be drug now without penalty, plus I highly recommend the Vajra Albe Barolo, the entry level offering, as it is a hugely rewarding wine and a great value.
($75 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive