2018 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
One of the best pure Nebbiolo values out there the G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo, especially the 2016, 2017 and now this 2018, which offer tremendous drinking pleasure and a full array of the grapes best qualities in an approachable, ripely flavored and supple tannined wine, it is a no guilt, everyday, well made baby Barolo. The 2018 is fresher and more zippy than the 2017, but with very pretty aromatics and a palate that builds as it opens, ending not far off the richer vintages and it’s performance gets remarkably better with food, where its acidity fades a little and the core of fruit comes out in a shining fashion with layers of black cherry, wild strawberry, plum and baked peach fruits along with a delicate earthy/savory kick, minty herbs, anise and a mineral tone, all of which goes nicely with the heightened floral notes and lingering saline/stony element. When you want exceptional Nebbiolo, this address is one to look to, not many wineries over the last decade has a string of Barolo greatness as top notch as Vajra with Giuseppe Vajra leading this label to super stardom since his breakthrough vintage in 2008. Not a one trick pony, Vajra does a fabulous collection of wines from Dolcetto to Barolo, and Giuseppe’s dry Riesling is maybe one of the best outside of Germany and France’s Alsace region, it is certainly on my must have list along with Vajra’s Cru Barolo, in particular the monumental Bricco Delle Viole, from one of Barolo’s highest elevation sites that also is one of the zone’s latest picks, which adds to the complexity, depth and Grand Cru Burgundy like elegance. While not quite on that level, the basic Nebbiolo still gives way more than expected, much like Vietti’s Perbacco Nebbiolo, La Spinetta’s Langhe Nebbiolo and Borgogno’s No Name Nebbiolo, all of which are savvy choices for the money.

Giuseppe’s father Aldo was a visionary and passionate about finding the coolest climate spots in Barolo, working with organic methods and he was committed to honor the land, the history and the local traditions, while embracing modern technology when it allowed his grapes to be their very best without compromising his ideals. In Giuseppe’s time in charge here, he has added to family’s collection many unique wines and raised the game dramatically, bringing world wide acclaim to the Vajras, cementing this label as one of the region’s blue chip properties. From top to bottom the Vajra lineup is an awesome set of Piedmonte wines, they are impossible to resist, like this one, along with their sublime Coste di Vergne and Fossati Dolcetto, which is from a unique selection of clones and grown in top Barolo vineyards and I never miss a chance to drink Vajra’s Barbera Superiore, it is a wine that deserves way more attention that it gets! The Langhe Nebbiolo, is what Giuseppe calls, his quest for the innocence of Nebbiolo, (and) its purest expression, coming from young estate vineyards close to the winery that range from 10 to 25 years old, it sees a gentle and long maceration so to retain lift and energy, as well as promote its aromatics in this beautiful wine. The vines get total holistic care with the biodiversity extending to the near by forest and neighboring fields to create the best environment possible, this hard work and partnership with nature has paid off in real quality showing up in the bottle. This little Nebbiolo was fermented and aged in stainless steel primarily with some vintages getting a touch not neutral oak if warranted, though everything is done to give crisp, authentic and pure details, which this 2018 delivers, enjoy it over the next 3 to 5 years. The ruby red Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo is great way to get to know this winery and it is real a bargain, it is well worth searching out.
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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