“By now I have run out of superlatives for Vajra. Suffice it to say these are some of the finest, artisan wines being made in Piedmont today. At a time when prices for so many wines are skyrocketing out of control, Vajra's prices are a breath of fresh air. The Barolos are made in contemporary traditional style, with longish fermentations and aging in cask…My only regret is not having bought these wines more heavily in the past.”
A glowing endorsement from Antonio Galloni back in 2017, and his comments still hold true…Vajra not only remains one of the most consistently high-performing estates in the region, but remarkably fairly priced. Tasting the range of wines from G.D. Vajra is a total joy, and when we visited last October to taste the 2019s, I was taken by just how beautifully crafted the wines were, each so expressive of its terroir. Even in more challenging years, and particularly in warmer years, this estate never fails to produce expressive wines of both character and finesse. So, in such a fine vintage as 2019, which was undoubtedly a warm year (please see here for Simon Larkin's full vintage report), it comes as no surprise that Vajra turned out some truly stunning wines. It is hard not to fall in love with all Vajra has to offer, from the quality of its wines, to the warmth and passion of the family behind it.
G.D. Vajra is run by Aldo Vajra, his wife Milena, and children Giuseppe, Francesca and Isidoro. There is an energy about the estate, a spirit of innovation as well as a contagious enthusiasm exhibited by all the family members. What impresses most at Vajra is the unerringly consistent high quality that they achieve across a broad range of wines irrespective of vintage. As one of the region’s earlier adopters of organic viticulture, the Vajra family manage their vineyards attentively and take a traditional approach to winemaking, with the purity of the fruit one of the more striking features. Over the years, they have gradually increased the area under vine to 60 hectares, of which 10 are Nebbiolo destined for Barolo set in some of the finest vineyards in the region, such as Bricco delle Viole and of course, Ravera.
In addition to their Vajra holdings, the family also took over management of the Luigi Baudana estate in Serralunga d’Alba in 2009. They produce three Barolo here, a village Barolo and two Cru – one of which is offered here, the 2019 Barolo Baudana, Luigi Baudana. The name Baudana is shared by the family who founded the estate, the Cru itself, and the tiny hamlet on top of the hill where it is based. In fact, the family have been based in this area for so long that they do not have records of when the family first settled, nor how the name of the family was passed on to the Cru. The Baudana wines are vinified in Serralunga, before being transferred to Vajra’s state of the art winery in Barolo for their élevage.
Please see below for Simon Larkin’s comments on the 2019 Bricco delle Viole and Ravera from G.D. Vajra:
"I can only think of three growers with a holding in Bricco delle Viole, which lies on the western slopes of Barolo, and Vajra’s is by far the most impressive. It is a superb Cru with south/south-east exposure, and the section owned by Vajra is at a relatively high altitude, up to 480 metres. This has to be one of my favourite Barolo Crus as it captures the freshness and austerity common to those examples to the west of the region, yet this classical austerity is allied to outstanding refinement of tannins and incredibly pure aromatics. I never find any heaviness in Bricco delle Viole, even in the hotter vintages. I have followed this wine for many years, and, for me, the 2019 is among the most compelling; all scented dark cherry and berry fruits, with air it reveals impressive concentration, but a lightness of touch. Notes of spice and blood orange emerge to the finish, but the hallmark of this wine, as is often the case, is the finesse of the tannins, which creates an impression that is both sleek and focused. Utterly sublime, but patience required.
"Ravera is without doubt one of the Crus that has benefited hugely from the warmer temperatures in Piemonte. This large Novello Cru also benefits from a significant altitude, while the exposure varies from east to south/south-east to south-west across various parcels. Ravera came to prominence when Vietti released a single vineyard Barolo from this Cru in 2010, though the Vajra family had been producing an example for many years previously. Aside from various single vineyard wines being produced today, Ravera features in a host of notable blended Barolo from leading estates. It tends towards the brighter, redder fruit end of the spectrum, and captures a notable mineral quality as well as plenty of tension. Ravera is austere in its youth and capable of significant bottle age too. Vajra’s Ravera must be one of the bargains of Barolo, it is so finely crafted, beautifully complex and reveals a cool accent to its fruit. The 2019 is yet another strong showing – plenty of energy, with juicy, red and stone fruit notes, fresh mint and tangy citrus notes as well as a flinty, mineral character. The 2019 shows terrific vibrancy and shows no hint of coming from a warmer vintage – it is so wonderfully precise." - Simon Larkin MW
2019 Barolo Baudana, Luigi Baudana
£365 per 6 bottle case in bond
96 points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous
The 2019 Barolo Baudana is absolutely captivating. Effusive and bright in the glass, with tons of freshness and remarkable fruit purity, the Baudana offers up generous dark red fruit, spice, leather, kirsch, hard candy, cedar, tobacco and underbrush. There's terrific depth here and exceptional balance, too. Rose petal, white pepper and chalk lift the high-toned, intensely saline finish. Drink 2027-2044
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