• Barolo Classicism at its Finest

    Barolo Classicism at its Finest

    Fratelli Alessandria is a name that I've kept rather close to the vest. There are so many crucial discoveries we've made in Piedmont over the years, but Alessandria stand out as some of the greatest value wines. Also covering Barbera, Dolcetto, and Pelaverga, this Verduno estate resting under the radar has since found a dedicated following.

    While the Alessandria wines are never short on intensity, there's a delicate sensibility here that one cannot miss. Veins of minerality come across super finely, with a crackling tone of acidity that lingers on the finish. Relative to most of Barolo, the wine's coloring is lighter because of the higher altitude of Verduno as well as the winemaking style, favoring transparency instead of power.

    Shop Fratelli Alessandria

     

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Late-Harvest Longing

    Late-Harvest Longing

    Sadly, late-harvest vintages are now fewer and far between with rising global temperatures. 2020 harvests occurred in some regions up to a week before their previous all-time records.

    Today's offer highlights the other side of the coin, when those magical cool summer nights and temperate daytime conditions lead to long hang-time for grapes. Maximum complexity ensues. Balance prevails.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe & Bricco delle Viole.

    G.D. Vajra concluded harvest on October 22nd and produced an all-time great success story in this highly-anticipated Piedmont vintage. Clarity, purity, length. I could go on and on, but, in short, this is the kind of vintage I go deep on. Stylistically, 2016 falls between the epic 2010 and traditional-leaning 2013, both late vintages.

    In the case of Vajra's contemporaries like Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Rinaldi, their wines are nearly impossible to source, and when you do the pricing exceeds $300 per bottle. Vajra's flagship "Albe" Barolo offered today at $46 per bottle hits the value bullseye like nothing else in Piedmont.

    Aldo and Milena Vaira bottled their first vintage in 1978 from vineyards planted by Aldo's father in 1948. Vajra's vineyards are set at the highest elevation in the commune of Barolo. From the start, Aldo was heavily influenced by the traditional approach of his neighbors down the hill, Bartolo Mascarello, and Beppe Rinaldi.

    The Vajra wines stand at a perfect intersection between two styles. Aldo has noted descriptions of the estate as "The most modern of the traditionalists and the most traditional of the modernists". Though traditional fermentation and aging is the common approach, the accessibility and seamless texture of the wines calls to mind modern sensibilities.

     

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Ultimate Ambassador of Piedmont: G.D. Vajra

    Ultimate Ambassador of Piedmont: G.D. Vajra

    The wines of G.D. Vajra stole my attention when I was living in Burgundy, but a subsequent visit in Italy put the whole picture in to context: These are Piedmont elite at pricing that speaks to everyone. From the Dolcetto through the Barolo Ravera, this family estate is the first place to turn for the entire spectrum of what Piedmont is all about.

    Aldo and Milena Vaira bottled their first vintage in 1978 from vineyards planted by Aldo's father in 1948. Vajra's vineyards are set at the highest elevation in the commune of Barolo. Aldo from the start was heavily influenced by the traditional approach of his neighbors down the hill, Bartolo Mascarello and Beppe Rinaldi

    The Vajra wines stand at a perfect intersection between two styles. Aldo has noted descriptions of the estate as "The most modern of the traditionalists and the most traditional of the modernists". Though traditional fermentation and aging is the common approach, the accessibility and silken texture of the wines calls to mind modern sensibilities.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • The King of Wines & The Wine of Kings:  Barolo for the Ages

    The King of Wines & The Wine of Kings: Barolo for the Ages

    In the peak of summer I find myself longing for those cool, late fall nights complete with a big bowl of pasta and a bottle of favorite Barolo. Below is my dream list. The kind of names that may keep one up late at night, tossing and turning in bed, with images of wild boar bolognese, homemade fusilli, and a cheese plate filled with top notch Pecorino. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Cappellano Barolo:  Pié Rupestris & Pié Franco

    Cappellano Barolo: Pié Rupestris & Pié Franco

    For many, the wines of Augusto Cappellano need little introduction. Yet they deserve as much text and praise as we shower Barolo's other heroes, Roberto Conterno, Beppe Rinaldi, and Maria Theresa Mascarello. Today's offer does revisit what was the very anticipated, highly lauded 2013 release with new quantities available. But, the impetus for this email is something else.

    2006 was a Barolo vintage that, in my estimation, has flown way under the radar. For classic-leaning palates it might only be rivaled in the decade by 2001 and 2010.Today's list features 24 bottles of Cappellano's 2006 Barolo Pié Rupestris. 


    Antonio Galloni of Vinous got right to the point: "Two thousand six is one of the most powerful, structured vintages of the last three decades."

    Focus on the structure. Even young, the 2006's held a special place with me for their unapologetic raw Nebbiolo features. It was like naked Barolo, without unctuous, rounded fruit to hide behind. I've always found the the snap of tannin and flicker of austerity totally hypnotizing. It was a vintage that just screamed of a rare authenticity of place from day one, and spoke to a long, slow evolution ahead.Today, especially from the traditionalists like Cappellano, these wines are starting to enter their drinking windows.

    Cappellano is best known for crafting ultra-traditional and soulful Barolo with a natural focus on the western slopes of Serralunga d'Alba. Here in the Gabutti cru we see the darker side of Nebbiolo within the greater Barolo zone. However, Augusto Cappellano's organic approach and low sulphur regimen endow these wines of stature with a delicate and sensual side that stands apart from his contemporaries.

    Cappellano is also known for insisting that critics who taste at the cantina do not publish scores for the wines. Although these are among the top Barolo produced in Piedmont each year, you will never see ratings for these wines - Another philosophy at this estate that I admire a great deal.

    With only four hectares the demand for these wines far outweighs supply. The Piè Franco from pre-phylloxera own-rooted vines is also located in the Gabutti cru, but shows a more lifted and ethereal side as compared to the Pié Rupestris. The whispers heard on this ultra-rare bottling surround the belief that this is what Barolo tasted like before American rootstocks were forced to be grafted to the majority European vines.

    The Barolo Chinato is, in many ways, the most esteemed product at Cappellano. The tightly-held secret family recipe has been passed down for generations. The wine is infused with a special ratio of spices, herbs, and other earthly components and ground by hand using a stone mortar and pestle.


    Cappellano Barolo Chinato
    Terrific on its own, but I'd be remiss if I didn't include some other recommendation's from importer, Neal Rosenthal:
    As an aperitif: 4 parts gin, 4 parts Campari, 2 parts Chinato, a touch of ice plus a slice of orange.
    - As a “thirst quencher”: cold sparkling water plus 10% of the volume in Chinato with the juice of a freshly squeezed lime accompanied by a slice of lime.And, Augusto Cappellano reminds us: don’t forget the pleasure of drinking the Chinato accompanied by the best chocolate one can find!
    Posted by Alexander Rosen