G.D. Vajra, the Barolo producer known for its Bricco delle Viole and Ravera bottlings, recently added to its vineyard holdings in Piedmont. In the spring of 2018, it purchased 2.5 acres each of Coste di Rose and neighboring Boschetti, plus a quarter-acre of Preda, parcels it had been renting since 2015. This brings the total holdings at Vajra to nearly 150 acres. The Vaira family also owns the 10-acre Luigi Baudana estate in Serralunga d'Alba.
I walked the vineyards with Giuseppe Vaira on my recent visit to the region. The steep, east-facing exposure and sandy soils of Coste di Rose render one of the most elegant Barolos in the region.
"It is a gorgeous parcel on top of the designation," beamed Vaira of the rows of Nebbiolo vines. "It's a very diverse vineyard from those we've farmed so far. The topsoil is dominated by very pure arenaria di Diano (sandstone). The elevation is lower than Bricco delle Viole, Ravera, [Luigi Baudana's] Baudana and Cerretta, but enjoys wonderful fresh air. Last but not least, it is located in between Cannubi and Bussia. Vines are about 30 years old."
With the deal, Vajra also acquired 37 acres of Dolcetto in the Monterustico area of Dogliani. Compared to the perfumed, elegant, black currant– and violet-scented Dolcetto Coste & Fossati 2017, the Monterustico 2017 is rich and structured, offering flavors of black cherry and blackberry.
The 2015 Barolos from Vajra will arrive in the United States in September 2019. The G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2015, a blend of Nebbiolo fruit from Fossati, Coste di Vergne, La Volta and the young vines of Bricco delle Viole reveals fine purity and depth to its floral, cherry, herb, spice and tobacco flavors. At $40, it's also a terrific value for Barolo.
The debut vintage of Coste di Rose also begins with a floral aroma, the rose, strawberry and cherry notes allied to a tense, linear frame. It finishes with savory length. Bricco delle Viole 2015 delivers its characteristic violet and black currant flavors, great intensity and a mineral aftertaste. The Ravera 2015 was the least showy of the Vajra Barolos, evoking aromas and flavors of juniper, wild thyme and black cherry. Despite its cooler and reserved feel, it's powerful and long.
From Luigi Baudana, the Barolo Serralunga di Serralunga 2015, from young vines in Baudana and Cerretta, is all licorice, tar, spice and smoked meat notes, with chewy tannins. The Baudana 2015 offers more cherry fruit, but also savory elements of licorice, eucalyptus and hay on a dense, taut profile. It's complex, but will need 15 to 20 years to reach its peak.
The Cerretta 2015 features an intense nose of graphite, mineral, cherry and licorice. More vertical than the Baudana, it has fine tension on the long finish.
All the Barolos in both cellars, Vajra and Baudana, underwent 55 days of maceration on the skins. "We thought long skin contact didn't work as well in warmer vintages [like 2015] because of the tannins," explained Vaira. "But what we found was less impact on the wine in its early life and more layers later."
However, Vaira added that they are very careful when pressing the wines. "We don't use any press wine in warmer years."
The 2015 Barolos from both G.D. Vajra and Luigi Baudana show impressive potential in terms of quality and longevity.