2019 G. D. Vajra Barolo 'Albe'


Current stock: 1

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The ‘value’ Barolo segment, once filled with a plethora of choices under $50, has become smaller by the year as mainstays like Vietti’s Barolo Castiglione and the Odderos’ Barolo Classico have drifted northward in price and those with less pedigree simply have not kept up in quality. All is not lost, though, as several blue chip values do remain for those of us who love top-flight Barolo but don’t want to pay $100 for the pleasure. We mourn the recent passing of Enrico Scavino, a modernist pioneer whose blended Barolo remains, at still under $50, one of the best you can find for the money (and was PRIMA’s 2023 Wine of the Year) but, over the past few vintages, we’ve also been very impressed with the Vaira family’s most excellent blended cuvee which displays a distinctly westside Barolo personality as opposed to, say, those of the Odderos, Scavinos and Viettis which are more pan-appellation in their approach. While most of the Vairas’ treasured fruit from their holdings in Bricco delle Viole, in the Vergne zone above Barolo castle, are saved for their vaunted single-vineyard bottling, they also farm (organically) small holdings in Fossati (a steep slope between La Morra and Barolo), La Volta (just under Viole) and Coste de Vergne (located over the shoulder of La Morra hill facing Cherasco). These are not bottled separately, but rather astutely blended together to make a really lovely wine that shows the many attributes of that side of the hill, a particularly fine thing in the large-and-in-charge 2019 vintage where fruit and depth is front and center. Frankly, we’ve not tasted a better Barolo for the money from this harvest. It has lovely presence right as you pop the bottle as Nebbiolo’s cinnamon-spice and red rose/jasmine aromatics are immediately apparent along with a deep well of red cherry and wild berry fruit. We were impressed with the wine’s structure which boasts a nice bit of the ‘scorched earth’ and wild anise character we associate more with the Vairas’ more expensive Bricco delle Viole and other high-ticket wines. We think this will not only be an extraordinary drink in its youth (like tonight) but also with added cellaring. A textbook wine to open at ten years past the harvest, there’s a lot of class here for the money. Affordable enough, we think, for a half case, at least!   

Keiran O’Keefe: Made from three separate vineyards, Fossati, La Volta and Coste di Vergne, this expressive Barolo opens with aromas of violet, dog rose and wild strawberry. Already drinking beautifully but showing good aging potential, the savory palate exhibits spiced cranberry, orange zest, red cherry and star anise alongside taut tannins and bright acidity. 94 points

Wine Advocate: This is certainly one of the most popular and versatile wines made in Italy, and deservedly so. The well-priced G.D. Vajra 2019 Barolo Albe shows some ripe fruit and softness with cherry, dried raspberry and crushed rose. This vintage is similar in character to the 2016 release in that both vintages offer a linear style with good structure at the back. The mouthfeel is polished and long, affording accessibility and complexity too. 94 points

Wine Enthusiast: Stunning in its purity, freshness and vibrancy, the Albe Barolo from the venerable Vajra family is a beauty. Aromas of fresh cherries, wild strawberries, rosebuds, wild herbs, underbrush and subtle chalky notes waft from the glass. The generous palate showcases the tart red fruits Nebbiolo is known for, but at a higher gear followed by more savory flavors finishing with well-integrated tannins and vibrant acidity. 94 points