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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Delicate Inexpensive Barolo: 2009 G.D. Vajra Albe

2009 G.D. Vajra Barolo “Albe” -

It could be said that I am fond of all good wine, but in recent years I have acquired a particular fondness of Barolo. I love that my palate seems to change with time and experience. I also know it is an experience that is not unique to me. Early in my wine drinking experience, I wanted ripe, bold flavors packaged with a round, full mouth-feel. 

The progression from then to now has been driven by exploration and opportunity. Over time the progressive acquisition of the ability to discriminate among aromas and flavors reveals dimensions in some wines that I certainly could not have appreciated at an earlier time.

I enjoyed tasting the 2008 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe and stashed some in the cellar – so I have been quite looking forward to tasting this 2009 release.  G.D. Vajra is a family-run winery, with an artisanal heart and an unstinting focus on quality.  Their farming practices are sustainable and their wines are elegant, often delicate with great acidity and food-pairing potential.

Three vineyard locations (La Volta, Fossati, Coste di Vergne) contribute fruit to the Albe, ranging in altitude (1200-1350 ft) and aspect. In combination they have demonstrated the potential to yield a beautiful and multifaceted Barolo at remarkably reasonable cost (under $35).  

In the Commune of Barolo, the Nebbiolo harvest takes place in the latter half of October.  Harvesting by hand and transportation in small crates protects the grapes from damage – No “Bruised Grapes” here.  

Similarly, careful manual selection of clusters continues from the vineyard to pressing, and fermentation is allowed to persist for up to 40 days (vintage dependent).  Prior to bottling, the wine spends approximately 36 months in Slavonian oak barrels.

 Saturday evening – It’s my turn to cook, so it’s also an excuse to pull the cork on the 2009 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe.  I decided to decant this bottle, anticipating that it would need some significant air-time, and I left it alone for an hour or so.  While the wine was breathing, I prepared a family-sized portion of meatballs, spaghetti and marinara sauce.  

There is nothing complicated here, no table or place settings.  This was Saturday movie night at home seated and eating in front of the TV with the family. Sometimes life just tastes better that way.

Sample was kindly provided by The Country Vintner
The 2009 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe is a beautifully translucent ruby. The nose is delicate, showing dried rose petals, underbrush herbs, black tea and red currants. The palate too is delicate, elegantly displaying the fine-grained dusty tannin and high acidity typical of Nebbiolo.  A finely proportioned fruit core is balanced well by savory meat and herb contributions, and edged by sour cherry and plum skin.  Over the evening it becomes progressively more open. As the palate becomes more expressive, notes of anise and spice also emerge, and the finish elongates.  It's cleansing and the wet stone, tannic finish is prominent but the fruit and herbs remain.

Clearly, tasting Barolo upon release is a challenge. The 2009 Albe is painfully young, and although not quite the stature or character of the 2008 (which I rated 93+ points), this is a delightfully elegant wine.  It performed very well with the pasta and meatballs. It does need time, however.  I might recommend tucking this away for a few years and allowing it to develop a little further in the bottle.

My rating based on the experience and the cost would be 90 points, although my numbers may rise a little as the wine gains a little bottle age and begins to integrate its component parts. It's absolutely worth the price of admission, and well worth tucking one or two away for comparison with other vintages.  It should not be difficult to find.  Check it out!


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Nick said...

I'm really enjoying your wine reviews, they're an excellent read with clear and insightful info. Thanks for including the dishes that you are having with the wine, it's great to know how the wine works with them.

Andy McCallion said...

Thanks Nick - I am delighted you are enjoying my ramblings..Please keep on reading and commenting.

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