Hello friends. We’ve been singing the praises of Piemontese producer G.D. Vajra for some time now. From entry level red blends to mighty, full-fledged Barolos, Vajra’s wines offer tremendous quality at approachable pricing. Today, we have an extremely rare treat—the ability to offer the winery’s Langhe Rosso, a list mainstay and a wine we have frequently referred to as the gateway drug to the Vajra lineup, alongside two of the winery’s Piemontese single varieties.
This is a rare treat because these wines can be super challenging to time up for an offer. The Dolcetto and Barbera never arrive to our corner of the world in huge quantities, and the Langhe Rosso is incredibly popular in our market. What usually happens is this: the Langhe Rosso arrives and we have first dibs, but the Dolcetto is long-gone. We wait for a new shipment of Dolcetto, but by the time it arrives, the Barbera is sold out. Finally, there’s enough Barbera, but the Langhe Rosso has changed vintages. And so on and so forth—until the stars finally align. Today is one of those rare instances where the stars are in our favor and we have access to all three at the same time. So, please order accordingly; this will be a one-and-done offer, and it could be a while before it happens again.
2016 G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso
Langhe Rosso is a category full of gems, if you can pry them away from their home in the Italian countryside. Vinified unfussily and well-loved by the locals for their food-friendly rusticity, early-drinking character, and easy-on-the-wallet price—if you made this wine, you’d probably keep it all to drink, too.
Langhe Rosso allows the winemakers to explore their homeland through blending wine. As Giuseppe Vajra, the founder of the estate, put it, “Our Langhe Rosso is a hug from Piedmont. It’s an invitation to explore its different varieties and to get to know its personality.” Drinking somewhere between a rustic Pinot Noir and full-throttle Nebbiolo, this Langhe Rosso predominantly features Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto, with smaller quantities of Freisa, Albarossa, and Pinot Noir. These grapes work together to create a complex Italian wine that is surprisingly easy to drink and practically made to be paired with food.
This year, Vajra’s Rosso has a truly wild character—drinking more like a Nebbiolo from Alto Piemonte. These wines are known for their intense fragrance, vibrant minerality and acidity, and firm, refined tannins. From the get-go, it’s bright and inviting. On the nose, intense rose petals, dark earth, and chalk-like minerality come through with succulent fruit qualities of cherries and currants to balance. The palate is lively, featuring bright, acidic berry fruit with touches of graphite and wood that add complexity and roundness to a 13.5% frame. The finish is dry with rustic, food-friendly tannins.
You could drink this bottle with a whole host of delicious foods—grilled pizza with sausage and Mama Lil’s peppers, epic charcuterie boards, roasted racks of lamb with herbs. However, I think the ultimate food pairing for this bottles comes from Piedmont itself: a hearty bowl of Tajarin. Tajarin is an egg-based fresh pasta made with mostly egg yolks, cut ultra thin, and finished with butter, sage, and parmesan cheese. Think the grown-up version of butter noodles—that you get to eat with wine!
2016 G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba
Piedmont is Barbera’s ancestral homeland—and some experts suspect its origin dates back to the 7th century. These are ancient grapes from the birthplace of Barbera. The grape itself is the most planted of the region, once simply planted to take up vineyard space that wasn’t fit for the region’s favorite Nebbiolo. However, over the last century, there has been a push to plant Barbara more thoughtfully. Vajra’s version is sourced from six different vineyards from three different growing areas: Barolo, Novello, and Sinio.
Vajra’s Barbera is about as honest a rendition as you’ll fine: fruit-forward, deep, and astonishingly lifted. It’s heavily pigmented in color—yet surprisingly light on the palate. (Almost the opposite of Nebbiolo in some ways—which is deceptively light in color with powerhouse tannins.) Clocking in at 14% listed alc, it opens with black cherries, plums, leafy tobacco, and plenty of blood orange acidity. There is a delightful savory undertone of subtle saline and spice. The palate is mouth-watering, succulent, with pure fruit intensity and lifted with bountiful natural acidity. It’s layered with graphite minerality, a tell-tale marker of the Bertone vineyard in Sinio where it’s partially sourced. This wine just begs for an early fall evening and an all-day Sunday gravy.
2016 G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba
Glorious grapey Dolcetto—or sweet little one, as its Italian name states. However, this is a misnomer. Yes, Dolcetto is an easy charmer brimming with beautiful fruit, but its present, sophisticated tannins and tarry mineral qualities make it anything but little or sweet. Aldo Vajra, the current owner, puts it best: “It is a wine that gives life! If people knew how good, digestible, and humanizing it was, they would drink it every day.”
Vajra has Dolcetto locked down. The grapes are all sourced from 20-40 year-old estate vines in Coste di Vergne, Fossati, and Pacolo in Barolo and Ravera in Novello. While the wine begins with a typical Dolcetto nose full of purple florals, red cherries, wild berries, and herbaceous earth, the palate is what sets Vajra apart. This Dolcetto is structured less like a typical d’Alba; it tastes more like the highest end Italian Dolcettos from Dogliani, a small village tucked into the hills just south of Barolo. These limestone and marlstone soils are home to the only Dolcettos with DOCG status. The palate is flavorful—glorious berries, summer herbs, and a touch of bittersweet tar—with solid, sophisticated tannins and bright, mineral-driven acidity that create true structure for this seemingly juicy bottle. Another stunner for a dinner table full of Northern Italian treats.