2019 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
This bottling of basic Langhe Nebbiolo is a perennial favorite of mine and a fantastic value, it offers pure varietal character and substance for an incredible price, it is a guilt free baby Barolo and is beautifully crafted to capture the essence of the region and it goes fabulously well with an array of cuisine and dishes from cheese, pizza or pasta to more exotic things like seared duck breast or Turkish lamb. The 2019 starts primary led and fruit forward, but with air the classic elements of serious Nebbiolo come cascading on to the medium bodied palate with black cherry, plum, fig, briery raspberry, zesty blood orange and earthy mulberry fruits, snappy herbs, rose florals, black tarry licorice and a hint of underbrush. About this supple textured young wine, winemaker Giuseppe Vaira (Vajra) says, it is their quest for the innocence of Nebbiolo, (to show) its purest expression, going on he continues that it delivers what he calls varietal truth, purity of aromatics and with lift and energy, all of which I see here in this lovely 2019 vintage. The G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo is mostly a stainless steel vat fermented and aged, with just a small portion seeing some neutral oak if the year dictates, which I don’t believe this one required as it feels supple and plush on the palate. The gentle and lengthy maceration of the Nebbiolo grapes is kept cool, to extract pigment and complex flavors, and the fermentation usually lasts about three weeks and is followed by spontaneous malolactic conversion, with an elevage of just under a year being typical, before bottling.
This winery is one of the best in Piedmonte, with a stellar lineup of Barolo offerings with many small lot Cru bottlings, like their signature Bricco delle Viole, the Coste di Rose, the newest addition, and the Ravera, as well as the Albe Barolo, a wine that way over delivers, like this one, for the price. Beyond the great Nebbiolo, Vajra does an amazing dry Riesling, honestly it rivals some huge names and I also would be a miss not to mention the other specialty of Vajra, their wildly exotic Kye Freisa, with its gorgeous strawberry fruit and heavenly perfume, as well as the collection of Barbera and Dolcetto wines, these are also utterly delicious efforts. As mentioned before in my reviews, Vajra was one of the first to embrace holistic farming in the region. As the winery notes, back In 1971, Aldo Vajra, Giuseppe’s father, then still a university student, was among the first to adopt organic farming in this historic region. Their vineyards have been nurtured, and soil preserved, by grassing in between rows and using spontaneous cover crops that provide nutrients to the vines for close to half a century. All of the estate is sustainable and organic certified, with, as Vajra puts it, an incredible ratio of manual work or hand tending per acre, the farming here is a labor of love and with incredible attention to detail. Intense research is also placed by the Vajra family into monitoring and improving the biodiversity of both flora and fauna, and not just in the vineyards, but also in the surrounding fields and forests to stay in balance with the natural environment. This wine, plus Vajra’s Langhe Rosso, a blend of native red grapes, are must haves for the savvy bargain hunters and are wines I always stock up on when I can.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive