G.D. Vajra Barbera d'Alba 2017

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Tasting Notes

The Vajra family has owned vineyards in the Piedmont since the 1920s, but sharecroppers farmed most. The family made a small quantity of Barolo, but family winemaking stopped when Giuseppe Domenico Vajra, though an anti-Fascist, was drafted into the Italian army. His son Aldo took over, reclaiming the farming of grapes and the making of wine. Aldo established a winery in 1972, named for his father, and released his first vintage in 1978. Today, he and his wife Milena (both patrons of art), and their three children work together. One day Aldo had a conversation with his oldest son Giuseppe, who wanted to become a heart surgeon, that changed the boy’s life. Aldo pointed to a painting and asked, “What would life be if you didn’t have beauty? You don’t need it to live, but life is not the same without it. Wine is like this.” Today he is the international face of Vajra wines.

The label of this wine tells a story. The six leaves represent the six estate vineyards from which the grapes come. The three bunches represent the three soils of these plots. The two kissing birds represent the joining of two styles of Barbera, one based on calcareous soil, one based on clay soil. 2017 is an energetic and aromatic vintage. Winter was mild, but temperatures dropped brutally in April across much of Europe. The elevation of the Vajra vineyards saved them until stable weather returned in May. It was a dry summer, but again elevation saved the day—the diurnal temperature swings protected against water stress. Very cool September nights slowed sugar accumulation while promoting phenolic ripeness. Harvest took place in the second half of September, with each plot harvested and fermented separately. Fermentation in tank was slow, with gentle punchdowns and longer cap floats. (Barbera often sees short, vigorous maceration.) The result is an extremely fine tannic structure and full flavor. Malolactic fermentation took place in tank, where the wine aged 14 months before lots were blended.


The nose offers that plummy fruit skin Barbera aroma from the start, complex and inviting, with herbal and blueberry notes. The palate is smooth with a pretty texture and round, mouth-filling acidity. Dark fruit flavors are sweetly ripe and layered, with one flavor leading seamlessly to another. Pull the cork at least a half hour before you plan to drink this, taste it immediately, and return after 30 minutes; you’ll be amazed at how this beauty has opened up. Medium bodied with a longer anise-inflected finish.


Pair with game, a variety of pasta dishes, and grilled foods. Almost any comfort food—pizza, charcuterie and salumi, burritos, pâté, and meat loaf—works well. Mushrooms have an affinity for this style of Barbera, whether spread on crostini, in risotto, on burgers or veal chops. If you’re a red-wine-with-fish type, try swordfish, tuna, or shark.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Charcuterie, Chicken/Turkey, Duck, Fish-full flavored (salmon/tuna), Grilled preparations, Lamb, Mushrooms, Pizza, Pork, Red Meat, Roasted Root Vegetables, Tapas, Wild Game

Italy , Alba, Piedmont
Grape Varietal:
100% Barbera
$25.00 each