Sep 27, 2010

2004 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe

BAROLO_ALBE_2007_4f6102bd5ee9d.pngG.D. Vajra's barolos have a reputation of being good value for money. While staying in Alba, I purchased a bottle from Enoteca Carosso ( which has an extensive collection of fine Langhe wines as well as some Tuscan wines and lots of grappa to choose from. Vajra's Barolo Albe 2004 was only 29 eur which is cheap for a barolo of a great vintage.

Although being a blend and cheaper than their flagship wine, the single vineyard "Barolo Bricco delle Viole", the Albe is not an entry level barolo. Albe is blended from grapes sourced from three different vineyards near from the town of Barolo. While being a traditional producer using large "bottes" made of Slavonian oak, the purpose of winemaker Giuseppe Vajra was to create a wine which is approachable young, thus he controls the use of oak per hectolitre of wine, thus keeping the wine's freshness and decreasing needed cellar time.

The color of the wine was non-barolo like, with only hints of brownish mixed with ruby, however with an orange hue. The wine developed nose of a typical barolo only after extensive time in glass. Initially it was redcurrants and spices, later turning to coffee and underbrush mixed with the redcurrants.

Extensive acidity, sweet alcohol and tannins nicely integrated giving structure but not drying the mouth. When developing with air, fruitiness increases, so this one needs time to open up. The overall perception is a warm wine which is approachable at 6 years of age and ok value for money. Some ripeness of fruit would be welcome, however decanting will help.

Image from

Sep 25, 2010

Barolo 2010 harvest blog 1

Now off to Barolo, Piemonte, for wine harvest. 

I was able to land a place for harvest at Azienda Agricola Sukula, owned by a famous Finnish chef couple Jyrki & Riikka Sukula. They own 2 ha of land in Meriame, which is located 2km from Serralunga d'Alba in the Barolo DOCG production area. Their nebbiolo vineyards are old, between 40-65 years, which is very promising for wine production. There is some barbera too which is sold to other producers as the estate concentrates solely for production of barolo. 

The Sukulas have access to excellent wine making facilities as they are good friends of Giorgio Rivetti, owner of La Spinetta, and use La Spinetta's production equipment for their barolo. 

The 2ha's of land owned by the couple is near the average in the Barolo production region, however too small to justify owning the production equipment. Thus the average producers either rent production facilities from larger estates or sell grapes to other producers. In Barbaresco there are also co-operatives (like Produttori del Barbaresco) who pool grapes from large amount of producers. 

Can't wait for the harvest to begin. Nebbiolo is a grape which is harvested usually in very late September or early October, and this year follows the rule. I will be a tourist here in Alba and the nearby villages for a couple of days while waiting for the grapes to reach optimal ripeness. Most of my time I will be circling the wine estates, so more blogs to come from tastings in Piemonte. 

1947 Bourgogno Barbaresco & 1985 Chateau d'Yquem

Helsinki Airport's wine bar should receive a medal of some sorts for the wines they offer for travellers. This time around I had the opportunity to taste the oldest wine I have ever tasted, 1947 Barbaresco from traditional producer Bourgogno, as well as the Chateau d'Yquem's 1985. What a treat.

The Yquem was beginning to reach its drink window at 25 years of age, still being some 5 years shy. These wines are for the very long aging. The wine looked in the glass like liquid golden, intensive colour. Nose was beautiful with exotic fruits and truffle honey, pineapple, with some "green" or herbaceous notes.

The taste was quite astounding, the mouthfeel of a young wine with high acidity, however more mature feeling in the aftertaste. Sweet aromas of pineapple, grapes, roasted almonds in the finish as well as some oxidation feeling. The aftertaste could have been longer, separating this vintage from the better ones. However excellent quality from a challenging year. The 1985 Yquem can be kept for a long time, supported by its really nice acidity.

The 1985 vintage in Sauternes is not listed among the better ones while this vintage is the only Yquem ever made of grapes picked as late as in December - it took very long for noble rot to develop that year. Some of the herbaceous feeling in the nose, which was much less evident in the taste, could be the result of a challenging vintage. Sauternes' 1985 vintage scored 79/100 points in WineSpectator, however they gave 94 points for this vintage of Yquem in 1999. A good effort.

The 1947 Bourgogno Barbaresco was really interesting in finding out how well a 1940s nebbiolo of a famous producer ages and what elements of the wine is still present today. Barbaresco has in some instances been considered the "little brother" to the king of wines and wine of kings, Barolo. However the little brother showed that it can, too, age beautifully, however naturally having a small issue with fruit which was already somewhat dissapeared:

The wine's colour was totally brown with medium intensity. Wonderful nose of coffee liquer, black tea, sweet fruit and cappuccino. Taste was in union with the nose in respect to the coffee liquer and black tea however also introduced Asian exotic spices. It still had brilliant acidity, together with mature wine's liquer-like characteristics. However fruit was already passed away, showing that the wine was well in decline in its life cycle. Tannins could still be felt in the mouth.