Tasting with Giuseppe Vajra of G.D. Vajra

gdvajraToday I had the opportunity to meet Giuseppe Vajra from the winery G.D. Vajra in Piedmont, Italy. I have been a fan of Vajra wines for sometime so it was a great experience to meet Giuseppe today. For whatever reason, I find it intoxicating when Italian’s speak of their wines, more so than any other region.

My Tasting Notes:

2008 Langhe Bianco – 100% Riesling – floral with light citrus, and apricot notes. Lucious pear combined with great acidity at the back of the palate. Very Austrian in style of texture but the mid – palate is much “fatter”. Extremely nice!

2007 Langhe Rosso – Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo blend with 5% Pinot Noir and 2% Freisa – lots of red cherry, cola, red currant, leather notes and spice. Medium bodied with velvety tannins.

2007 Dolcetto D’ Alba – light cherry and raspberry notes with the flavor of actually berries. Red currant and cherry predominate the palate with hints of cola. Full bodied, especially for a Dolcetto – smooth tannins.

2007 Langhe Nebbiolo – leather, blackberry and “rum” on the nose. Palate full of black cherry, leather, dry dirt, hints of eucalyptus and cassis. Full body, with great acidity.

2004 Barolo – tomato leaf, rustic red fruit aromas, leather, boysenberry, blackberry and truffle oil on the palate. Fuzzy tannins and full bodied long finish. Still plenty of life, but approachable now. Beautiful!

2005 Langhe Freisa – menthol, leather and slight barnyard notes with fruit start to appear towards the back of the palate. Dark cherry and black currant predominate with some brambly fruit character and black pepper making an appearance. Lively acidity and full bodied. Excellent wine.

I spoke with Giuseppe on the ’09 vintage and he said it was a great, but not excellent one. “Definitely couldn’t close your eyes and sleep through this vintage, we had to do some work.” For most of the harvest it was status quo but some rain in September brought about that question of “pick now or later”. They chose to pick later and after the rain passed, had an incredible week of brilliant sunshine and cooler than normal nights. This helped to raise sugar levels and increase ripeness while maintaining great acidity. “It is an extermely hard thing to watch all of your neighbors bring in their fruit, while you wait out the ‘storm’.”

If you get a chance to try Vajra wines, I insist that you do – they are quite nice, and fairly priced for the region.


Categories: barolo, piemonte, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Wine Blogging Wednesday #54: A passion for Piedmont

wbwlogoWelcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday #54: A passion for Piedmont whose host is David McDuff of McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail. Well of course I am totally stoked as Piedmont or Piemonte is one of my favorite wine regions to sip wines from as well as one of my favorites to visit. The rules for this WBW were simple, just pick any wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, sip it and write about it! It can be one of the powerful Nebbiolo based varietals such as Barolo or Barberesco or it can be the aromatic Arneis. I chose to write about Barbera, the work horse grape of the region that along with it’s little brother Dolcetto, find themselves on dinner tables in the region more often than not. The wine itself was the 2005 Marco Porello Barbera d’ Alba Filatura ($17). From the Filatura vineyard in the village of Canale comes this Barbera that is comprised of 100% of the grape. Unlike Barberesco and Barolo that are from the same grape and named for their respective regions, Barbera and Dolcetto are named for the grapes themselves.

From the winemaker:

The vineyards are from 30 to 50 years old. The south-west sun exposure of the vineyard, the medium mixture soil with a good percentage of clay allow a very good ripening of bunches. The grape harvest takes place normally at the beginning of October. The wine making processes used are the following: grapes destemming and crushing, fermentation at controlled temperature for 10/12 days and racking off. The wine is afterwards poured into wooden barrels where it finishes its alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. The wine is improved in barriques (with a good relation new/used ones according to the characteristics of the year) for 12/14 months. The production is of around 6,000 bottles. After the bottling the wine rests for some months before being commercialized.”

I always enjoy Barbera, because you get a little more oomph than a Dolcetto but don’t spend that much more money, although Barbera’s can get up in the $30-$40 range. One in particular that I wrote about a few months ago was in that price range but drank more like a Barolo than a Barbera so the price was warranted.

marcoporello_barbera_labelMy Tasting Notes –

Nose – cherry, raspberry, rhubarb

Taste – cherry, red currant, vanilla, dry dusty earth

Mouthfeel – medium body, fairly “full” feeling for a Barbera with good acidic back end

Finish – medium length, dusty to velvety tannins

This was a pretty good Barbera d’ Alba, nothing screamingly exciting about it but it was varietally correct displaying the classic aroma and taste profiles. At the $17 price tag it is definitely a buy and would go great with classic northern Italian or Mediterranean cuisine or would even be a nice splurge for a pizza night.

Thanks again to David for hosting this months WBW! Cheers!

Categories: $10-$20, barbera, piemonte, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Tons of Tastings Around Richmond

The next couple of weeks we have some big tastings going on around the Richmond area in addition to the regular Friday and Saturday tastings at the local wine shops.

Thursday May 15th at the Barrel Thief

Barrel Thief is proud to host Alberto Di Gresy, owner and winemaker of Tenute Cisa Asinari Dei Marchesi Di Gresy (www.marchesidigresy.com). From 5pm-7pm, try a broad selection of his wines for only $10. The wines available to taste and their retail prices are:
2006 Langhe Chardonnay $25
2001 Langhe Gresy Chardonnay $34
2007 Moscato dAsti La Serra $20
2006 Dolcetto dAlba Monte Aribaldo $25
2005 Barberra dAsti $24
2006 Langhe Nebbiolo $29
2004 Barbaresco Martinenga $65

I am really excited about this tasting as regular Anything Wine readers know I am HUGE fan of the Piemonte region of Northern Italy.

Sunday May 18th at the Wine Cellar

The Wine Cellar will hold a special big red wine tasting from 6:00 to 8:00 after the store closes. The is $30/person and includes cheese, salami, crackers and other apps. Up for tasting will be 18 big reds ranging in price from $25 to $50 from the West Coast. Some new wineries will be represented, as well as some the hottest big reds currently on the market.

Wine List




















I love BIG reds so I can’t wait for this event!!


Thursday May 29th at Bella Vino (Stony Point Location)

From Bella Vino’s website:

Great Unknowns of California: May Elite Tasting

Forty years ago California had no reputation for producing world-class wines, but today it produces some of the greatest wines in the world. Unfortunately, many of these wines have prices that boggle the imagination and are only available to a select few. We believe that the best way to get wines from California that are phenomenal AND affordable is to seek out relatively unknown producers. Their wines are more a labor of love than of profit. We’ll offer some of these wines for tasting on May 29th so that you can buy superstar wines without paying superstar prices!Tickets: $15 for one; $25 for a pair($5 discount with Bella Vino Amanti tag)(Further $5 discount if you attended the previous tasting)PLEASE RSVPThere will be limited spaces available!Pre-payment will be requiredFor reservations, call:Bella Vino Stony Point Bella-(804) 272-3202

I hope to see you all at these events as they all sound fantastic.



Categories: Barrel Thief, piemonte, wine cellar, wine tasting | Leave a comment

Wine Blogging Wednesday #42 – Just Seven Words

This months WBW is brought to us by Andrew Barrow over at Spitoon. Andrew asks us to pick an Italian red wine and describe it in just SEVEN words.  HOW COOL!

Wine – 2003 Damilano Lecinquevigne Barolo

Grape – 100% Nebbiolo

Region – Barolo – Piemonte, Italy

Price – $35 Retail, we paid $58 at a local restaurant (Juleps) this past Saturday

My Seven Words –

Hey, who put cherries in my campfire?

Categories: barolo, piemonte, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review | 5 Comments

Chardonnay from Unlikely Places

Since tonight is the Chardonnay tasting at the Wine Cellar I thought I would write about a Chardonnay that Megan and I had recently from an unlikely place.  This summer when were in Piemonte Italy one of the wineries we visited was Rizzi (click here for the post and info on Rizzi), and one of the wines we brought home from Rizzi was a Chardonnay, actually 2 bottles.  When the winemaker Enrico pulled out the Chardonnay we were very surprised because it is not a varietal that commands much acreage in this part of Italy.  Although there are some minor plantings of Chardonnay the 3 main grapes of Piemonte are Arneis, Cortese and Moscato. 

The 2006 Langhe Chardonnay from Rizzi is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks and is bottled the March following the harvest.  The vineyards that produce the grapes for this wine are south, southwest facing and consist of soil that is composed of white clay and sand.

My Tasting Notes

Nose – Apple, mineral, cut grass, chalky/peppermint, maple syrup

Taste – Apple, pear, peach, raw nuttiness, white grape juice

Mouthfeel – Medium body, with a round and voluptuous feel while remaining quite crisp

Finish – Long with lemon and grass flavors lingering

Overall this was a great wine and the best part is after the euro dollar conversion it was about $7 (4,50 Euro).  Holy cow, what a great value!  I would have expected this wine to be crisper than it was since it did not go through Malolactic Fermentation and did not have any time in oak. With little “handling” of the wine in the winery (cantina) it was left to express its wonderful fruit character laced with the mineral and chalkiness of its terroir. They do not sell this in the US unfortunately, but if you happen to be in Northern Italy, keep your eye out for it.


Categories: chardonnay, piemonte, wine review | Leave a comment

Tasting Wine in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy

Tasting Wine in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy
In late June, Megan and I went to northern Italy for her sister’s wedding in Valenza, and we could not pass up a chance to do some wine tasting while we were there! We stayed at a bed and breakfast in the small town of Sinio which is right in the heart of the Barolo wine region aptly named Hotel Castello di Sinio. It was fantastic and beautiful as you can see from the picture. One of the proprietors is a chef and she is a fantastic one at that. Our first night there we had an amazing dinner on sight, with a great wine from the winery that we were going to visit the next day, with vineyards that we could see from our dinner table.

Hotel Castello Di Sinio

Just a quick mention of wine tasting in northern Italy. It is slightly different than we are used to here in Virginia and California and so on. Wine tastings are done by appointment only but are very welcome. It is usually done with the winemaker and lasts for over an hour closer to 2, and include touring the winery and vineyard and a fabulous private tasting.

The next morning we made the “long” ten minute drive across the way to our 1st of 2 wineries that we would visit in Piemonte. Rivetto is located in the Barolo wine region of the Piemonte in Northern Italy. The major grape there is Nebbiolo, also grown are Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis, Moscato to name a few.
Our wine guide through Rivetto was Enrico, one of 2 brothers that currently run winery operations. He started our tour in the vineyard (see pics below), showing us all 90 acres and pointing out each individual lot and what grape variety we were looking at.

(Top photo)Vineyards at Rivetto
(Bottom photo) Dolcetto vines at Rivetto with the town of Seralunga in the distance

Next we headed into the winery, which as you would imagine looks like other wineries you may have visited. One slight difference is that in Piemonte they tend to use large casks in addition to the smaller 60 gallon oak barrels (barriques) that in the US we are used to seeing. In this case, the casks are made of Slovenian oak (see below) which do not impose a huge oak flavor on the wine, they are a more neutral oak, similar to French Oak that has been used for several vintages. They impart the softening characteristics that barrel aging provides but not the wood notes.

Now onto the wine….
The wine tasting was done in the “tasting room” which was really more of a dining room, similar to the tasting room at Caymus for those that have been. Enrico opened 4 bottles for us to try, after a quick rinse of the glass we were on our way. Now, also, these weren’t your normal tasting room ½ ounce tastes, these were good 2+ ounce tastings so that you could really get some wine in your mouth and swirl it around.

Wines Tasted
2005 Dolcetto d’ Alba – very nice, easy drinking red wine with bright raspberry on the nose with a soft cherry finish.

2004 Barbera – (60 year old vines) 1 yr. in bottle – extremely smooth, raspberry, vanilla, strawberry and plum.

2003 Barberesco (I know you are thinking…he said they were in Barolo how can they make Barberesco…they have Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barberesco zone) – strawberry, dirt and earth, anise on the mid palate, long finish. MMMM
2003 Barolo “Leon” – (the Leon is the vineyard designate) – Blackberry, earth, huge tannins, long blueberry finish. This thing rocked!!

Enrico getting our wines ready to taste
Megan tasting some Barberesco..yummy!
The wines were all outstanding, not a bad one in the bunch that is for sure. I am definitely becoming a huge fan of Piemonte wines.

All of this was free, the whole experience lasted about 1 ½ hours, we left with 2 bottles of the Barolo “Leon” and 1 bottle of the Dolcetto. We would have bought more because they were an absolute steal compared to the price that we pay for good Barolos here, but we didn’t have enough room in our bags. The experience was fantastic, very personal, excellent wine, we weren’t rushed and it was Megan and I with the winemaker, free to ask all the questions we wanted to with plenty of time to day dream about having a winery of our own in Piemonte…..

Check back soon for winery number 2 on the trip– Rizzi from Barberesco!






Categories: piemonte | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments