• Soulful Serralunga: 2016 Cappellano Barolo

    Soulful Serralunga: 2016 Cappellano Barolo

    The wines of Augusto Cappellano need little introduction yet deserve as much text and praise as we shower Barolo's other heroes like Roberto Conterno, Beppe Rinaldi, and Maria Theresa Mascarello.

    These are among the top Barolo produced in Piedmont each year, though you'll never see any ratings. Augusto insists that critics who taste at the cantina do not publish scores for the wines—another philosophy I greatly admire about this estate. Antonio Galloni wrote this about Cappellano's latest releases: "The 2016s are every bit as magnificent as they were last year... with the Franco showing more power and the Rupestris leaning towards the ethereal side."

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

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Premium Piemonte: 2017 Brovia Barolo

    Premium Piemonte: 2017 Brovia Barolo

    Over the last five years, no winery in Piedmont has better captured the snapshot of place and season quite like Brovia. They pull no punches and appeal to those who are searching for the finessed qualities of Nebbiolo. For the 2017 vintage, "the enemy of Nebbiolo [was] not rain, but excess heat and drought," Alex Sánchez told Vinous. "We left a little more fruit on the vine to help retain freshness and also bottled the Barolos with just a bit less time in oak than is our custom."

    Brovia's roots trace back to 1863 when Giacinto Brovia founded the estate in Castiglione Falletto; though, Phylloxera and two wars put a halt to production for 30 years. In 1953, Giacinto's grandchildren, Giacinto and Raffaele, brought the estate up to speed with farming now entirely organic. Brovia's wines are adored by traditionalists, and they've reached new heights in recent years. In the über classic Piedmont realm where I stay grounded, Brovia is more compelling than ever before.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 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.

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    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