Why is this Wine so Yummy?
From the Winery:
We love Dolcetto. In the local tradition, this grape was cultivated on the best exposures, just above Nebbiolo parcels. Resonating with our own heritage, we dedicate only fine blocks to this variety, so to let it express with plenitude.
DESCRIPTION: G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba is a hommage to this wonderful, often overlooked heritage varietal. Historically, Dolcetto was cultivated in prime land, just above Nebbiolo vineyards. At Vajra, we remain loyal to this approach, farming our vineyards in places of true vocation. This is a pure, vibrant and fruity expression of the grape, ideal for many food pairings from appetizers to pastas and vegetables and light protein such as white meats and egg-based dishes.
VARIETY: 100% Dolcetto.
VINEYARD AND TERROIR: Multiple estate vineyards with an average age of 25 years.
VINTAGE: 2017 was a vintage of rich wines with plenty of energy and aromatics. After a mild winter with little snow and an anticipated vegetative development, temperatures brutally dropped around mid April, causing frost across Europe (4/19th-20th). The Vajra vineyards were entirely spared from the ice, being located at high elevation, with our immense relief and gratitude. Starting May, weather turned stable. Days were hot but nights cooler than in 2003 or 2011. The major diuturnal drop preserved the vines from water stress, despite little rainfalls. High elevation sites received more water too, contributing to a very healthy balance for the vines. By early September, night temperatures dropped even further, enhancing phenolic ripening while slowing down sugar accumulation. Average time between bud break and ripening was of 185 days. As a reference, ‘hot’ vintages lengthen 170 days and ‘late’ vintage 200 days (source: Consorzio Langhe).
HARVEST AND WINEMAKING: Dolcetto is picked in the first half of September. As vineyards are located at high elevation, protected from thermal inversion that affects north slopes and the valley floors, they allow for a longer hanging period and a full phenolic ripening. A gentle vinification usually lasts up to 15 days, with a couple of punch-downs per day. Wine is racked at least twice prior to malolactic fermentation, which takes place in stainless-steel vats. AGING: Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba sees a minimum aging period, in stainless-steel only, and is bottled in Spring following harvest.
TASTING NOTES: The 2017 Dolcetto d’Alba opens up with notes of blue/purple fruits, gentle sweet spices and bright mountain florals. It’s smooth at first but reveils the beautiful structure and punch that is such a signature of this vintage. This is a fantastic food wine, especially with light proteins (egg pasta, cod, white meats) and vegetable-based dishes.
TRIVIA: The name Dolcetto comes from the Piedmontese word duset or dosset. It refers to both the rolling hills where this variety is found, but also to the varietal’s low acidity and softness, which provides for a smoother profile. In Piedmontese, these traits are described by adding to the adjective doss, “sweet” [“o” is pronounced like the Italian “u”] with the addition of the suffix “et” that plays the diminuitive affectionate role [like the suffix “ish” for the English adjectives].
We had the great fortune to spend an afternoon with Guiseppe this year. His passion, and, his families passion, thoughtful, and, humble approach to their work is inspiring.
Listen to 🎧Giusseppe explore the history of Barolo, the estate, and, the wines.
Words from Giuseppe Vaira
Bricco delle Viole is like a cut of silk: pure, elegant, and ethereal. Born on the highest hill of Barolo, a promontory facing south, embraced by the Alps. It receives the first morning sun and the last ray of the evening. In autumn this vineyard seems to float above the fog, as if detached from time and light. The vineyard features material from 1949 and successive plantings in 1963, 1968 and 1985. Bricco delle Viole possesses extremely white soils. Rich in limestone, magnesium and manganese, with the contribution of high altitude and the afternoon breeze, these soils create
wines rich in finesse, floral aromas and freshness. The old vines of Bricco delle Viole are the last to be harvested – a wait that makes our heart beat faster, because the weather can change rapidly in autumn. But the patience of the farmer knows that the wait will be rewarded with high aromatic complexity and extreme finesse. The fruit undergoes a long maceration that might go as long as 45 days, including some time with a submerged cap. Malolactic conversion takes place in steel in the spring following the harvest. It’s then aged for 32 months in 25hL Slavonian oak casks before bottling.
Vajra is one of those producers that, across their range, manages to deliver sophisticated, fun wines that are great expressions of fruit. Thankfully, unlike many, Giuseppe understands restraint and oak!
“I try to make wines that give people joy. In the past wine was a food, it was necessary for sustenance. Today that is not the case, we choose to drink for pleasure. I want to make wines that bring people happiness.” Aldo Vajra
The Vajra family has quietly amassed a serious collection of vineyards that make them one of Piedmont’s larger, family-owned estates, something they have accomplished while maintaining the already high level of their entry-level wines. Every wine in the range is absolutely delicious and full of personality. I can’t recommend these new releases highly enough. Antonio Galloni