Hello friends. The main thrust of today’s offer is going to be the breathtaking new vintage of a well-loved Langhe Rosso from GD Vajra, but at the bottom we’ll also include quick-hitter offers on their well-priced Barolo Albe and their fizzy delight of a Moscato d’Asti.
We’ve previously published this piece of praise from Antonio Galloni (Vinous) for GD Vajra: [TEXT WITHHELD]
Vajra had disappeared from the Seattle market for several years but returned in 2013 courtesy of our direct-import partners (that direct-import model also allows us to shave a little off the normal release price of $16). Their Langhe Rosso is a gateway drug into the greater Vajra lineup, and more generally into the red wines of the Piedmont.
Langhe Rosso as a category is fantastic if you can pry them away from the Italian countryside. As I’ve mentioned previously, these are not wines that show up too frequently outside of the Langhe itself. We get plenty of exports of Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto, bottled varietally. But the declassified blends of the three grapes, the ones that are vinified unfussily and well-loved by the locals for their food-friendly rusticity and early-drinking character and easy-on-the-wallet price? Those stay home. Mostly.
We’re still close enough to the (excruciating) end of another (extremely uneven) season of Seattle Sounders soccer that it pains me to reference Isidoro Vajra’s metaphor, but I’ll suck it up, because it’s awfully clever: [TEXT WITHHELD]
Not bad, Isidoro; not bad at all. And yes, this blend is extra exciting, extra complex, because in addition to containing the big three of the Piedmont (about 30% each of Neb, Barb, and Dolc), there are also small amounts of more obscure Piemontese varieties like Freisa and Albarossa, and even a little Pinot Nero. The whole thing is aged in a combination of neutral barrels and stainless steel for about a year and a half before bottling, and the 2012 clocks in at 13.5% listed alc.
This is a ridiculously strong vintage of Vajra Rosso. I’ll start with the end of my note, which says “outrageous juice for tag; easy house wine candidate; could chuck in cellar for 10+ years and not worry.” Yes, I was feeling enthusiastic. And continue to feel that way. This one kicks off with an expressive nose of black cherry and blood orange fruit, chamomile tea, and earthy notes of soil and fallen leaves. That leafy, autumnal character continues on the palate, which is a super-intense live wire, with beautiful Nebbiolo structure and Barbera sour-cherry acidity paired to fleshy Dolcetto fruit. Texturally, this is pristine: polished tannins, supple fruit, loads of charm. It’s a food-wine extraordinaire, and it shouldn’t be missed.
“Barolo” and “value” don’t generally go together, which helps explain why we offer them so rarely, but this Albe is a strong value indeed, and compares favorably to many a $50-$100 Cru from other Piemontese producers. We’ve offered the three previous vintages of Albe, and at prices as high as [TEXT WITHHELD]. I think the weaker Euro is helping our pricing even more today.
Here’s how the Vajra family describes Albe: [TEXT WITHHELD]
For those counting at home, those three vineyards are Fossati, Coste di Vergne, and La Volta. The wine spends three years in large Slavonian oak before bottling. Listed alc is 14.5%, not surprising for a warmer vintage whose best wines Galloni has described as “radiant, open and already quite expressive.” The nose is classic Barolo: the blackest of black cherries, paired to tarry streaks and rose petals and tobacco leaf. In the mouth this is supple, smooth, easy-drinking; all three descriptors that I rarely write about Barolo, but there you have it: it is an immediate-gratification play to be sure. Very rich and creamy on the attack and mid-palate, it’s not until we roll into the finish that Barolo’s signature tannic heft comes into play, adding a toothsome leafy finish that reminds us what part of the world we’re playing in. I want to braise some tough cut to fork tenderness, gently settle it on a pillow of polenta, and crack a bottle of Albe.
Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
I find a good Moscato to be such a pleasure-soaked indulgence, and Vajra’s version is very very good. At just 5.5% listed alc, you can treat it like a beer and drink it right from the bottle. Okay, or from a glass. Or flute or tumbler or whatever you like. The expressiveness of the nose beggars belief, all citrus and flower garden, with grapefruit and lime paired to honeysuckle and jasmine and rose. The palate pairs delicious sweetness to tooth-tingling acidity, a fine bubbly mousse, and an unabashed Italian sense of bitters. The grapefruit-pith bitters are exactly the foil needed for all that sugar, and it keeps this from ever moving into cloying territory. A beautiful way to begin or end a night. (And sneaky good with a cheesy-eggs breakfast).
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.