• 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
  • Bilbro's Mendocino Gold Rush:  2015 Idlewild Fox Hill Cortese

    Bilbro's Mendocino Gold Rush: 2015 Idlewild Fox Hill Cortese

    Idlewild's Sam Bilbro has a story that stands apart from many producers who came into light during the transformational New California Wine emergence, as dubbed by Jon Bonné in his excellent book. Idlewild focuses on Piedmontese single varietal, single vineyard wines, sourced from high altitude sites in Mendocino County.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 Idlewild Fox Hill Cortese for $35 per bottle.


    The story behind the Fox Hill Vineyard Cortese is one that perfectly captures the imaginative process between each phase of a wine's origin: viticulture, harvest, and fermentation. The Cortese on this site is divided into two parcels: One receives ample, direct sunlight on the grapes giving a golden hue and more overt ripeness. The other parcel is shaded and yields Cortese grapes full of verve and minerality from these porous rocky soils.

    In the cellar 75% of the grapes are directly pressed and barrel fermented. But, the remaining 25% is fermented on this skins, doubling down on those unctuous tones from the direct sunlight parcel and giving significant textural weight. This golden hue gives elements of chamomile, cardamom, orange peel, and a some tannin.

    I've followed this particular bottling over the years and each vintage impresses for that combo between energetic saline tones juxtaposed brilliantly by those more skin-macerated qualities. It's fleshy, yet finishes with a deep mineral drive that makes it ideal for cutting through richer dishes. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen