2017 G.D. Vajra, Barolo DOCG, Bricco Delle Viole, Piedmonte, Italy.
The pretty and aromatic Bricco Delle Viole, from the warm and small yielding 2017 vintage, over delivers in depth and pleasure in a tough year and I was very impressed, especially coming after such a legendary vintage in 2016, it has a more supple mouth feel and silky red fruits, making it an attractive wine even at this stage. Giuseppe Vajra is one of the region’s brightest stars and I was thrilled with the latest wines, which I got to sample at this year’s Slow Wine 2022 tour stop in San Francisco, with this 2017 Bricco Delle Viole Barolo and the 2016 Ravera cru Barolo really standing out. I first tried Vajra’s Bricco Delle Viole with the 2008 vintage, and I have been a huge fan ever since, it is always a treat to experience, it gives me the same thrill as a Grand Cru Burgundy does and this latest version does not disappoint. This 2017 shows off in the glass with a dark ruby hue and a subtle floral perfume that leads to a full bodied palate of black cherry, fig/hoisin, damson plum and red currant fruits, along with dried herbs, earth, sandalwood, orange rind and tarry anise accents. Bricco delle Viole is one of the historical vineyards of Barolo, it is unique being one of the highest sites and the closest to the Alps. This vineyard, as the winery notes, rises from 400 to 480 meters above sea level, on the Western ridge of the village. Its name, which translates to “Hill of Violets”, comes from the flowers that blossom early here due to the perfect south exposure. Set on classic marl limestone and lots of sand and above the fogline, the Bricco delle Viole sees the earliest sunrise and gets the last rays of the sun every day. These vines date back to 1949, a they enjoy a dramatic diurnal temperature range that helps this Bricco Delle Viole Barolo with natural acidity and complexity, this is gorgeous stuff with lovely details and balance.
The G.D. Vajra wines are fantastic and getting better and better, they are one of my favorite producers in the world, with their Barolo’s being the top stars within the winery’s stellar collection, with their signature Bricco Delle Viole always displaying everything you’d want from Nebbiolo grapes, their Ravera, which is outstanding and their exotic and perfumed Coste di Rose Barolo, the newest in the Cru lineup here. 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. The vineyards are at heights of 350-400 meters, which plays a big part in terms of complexity and aromatic quality that winemaker Giuseppe Vajra achieves with his amazing set of offerings. The Vajra Barolo wines, like this one, see close to 30-40 days of maceration in stainless, with a submerged cap, which allows for a gentle extraction the tannins from the skins, also as Vajra notes, that there is a small percentage of stems are left in durning the primary fermentation depending on the vintage, with the riper years seeing more. The G.D. Vajra wines are not adorned with flashy sweet/toast French barriques, these wines are exceptionally pure, terroir driven and transparent versions of Barolo and this wine was aged in large (mostly older) Slovenian oak barrels for 25 months before bottling. This Bricco Delle Viole is a wine for collectors and enthusiasts, and while this 2017 is already drinking great, you should be patient here, though for immediate pleasure, I highly recommend the Vajra Albe Barolo, the entry level Barolo, as it is a hugely rewarding wine and a great value. If you open this 2017 in the near term, decant it and enjoy with hearty cuisine, I think 5 to 10 years will bring extra layers and allow its full maturity to shine through here in this 2017 Bricco Delle Viole, as it is softer and less tightly wound than the 2016, which will go decades.
($89 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive