Aldo Vajra’s (pronounced Vyra) wines are characterised by pristine flavours and clearly defined perfumes. These characters are attributable to the position of his vineyards at about 400 metres above sea level in the village of Vergne in the commune of Barolo. G.D. Vajra was established in 1972 and named after Aldo’s father, Giuseppe Domenico Vajra. Aldo has been gradually increasing the area under vine to 60 hectares, of which 10 are Nebbiolo for Barolo, located in such strategic spots as Bricco delle Viole, Fossati, La Volta and Coste di Vergne. A traditionalist, Aldo adheres to old-style winemaking methods, though blends these with new techniques, such as temperature controlled fermentation, to produce such superbly elegant wines.
These grapes come from young Nebbiolo vines in Vajra’s own vineyards in the communes of Barolo and Novello. The vines are four to seven years old and will produce Barolo DOCG in several vintages time. This Nebbiolo is also enriched by grapes from the wonderful Roccabella vineyard in the commune of Sinio, planted on steep south-facing terraces.
Fermentation lasted 15-18 days, at temperatures no higher than 29-30ºC with indigenous yeast strains and traditional daily punch downs. Malolactic fermentation followed and the wine was then aged for six months largely in stainless steel tanks, with a small portion in neutral wood, before bottling.
The wine is bright ruby-red with intense notes of violet and rose, accompanied by the freshness of ripe red berry fruits on the nose. This is an elegant Nebbiolo with herbaceous notes and perfumes of roses and red berries complemented by silky tannins and delicate acidity.
Isole e Olena’s vineyards, like those of Giovanni Manetti at Fontodi, are superbly tended. This, more than anything, yields wines of the quality that have kept these two estates ahead of the chasing pack for the past two decades. The name ‘Isole e Olena’ came about in the 1950s when two adjoining estates, ‘Isole’ and ‘Olena’, were purchased by the De Marchi family and combined to form one. The estate has been run by Paolo De Marchi since 1976.
The estate covers 290 hectares, of which 49 are planted with vines and 45 with olives. The vineyards are approximately 400 metres above sea level and face south-west.
80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo & 5% Syrah/Shiraz
Fermentation took place in tank with 15 days maceration, delestage and pumping-over twice a day. Delestage (or ‘rack and return‘) is a method of extraction during fermentation which gives wines of good colour and soft tannins. The maceration tank is emptied of fermenting must, the cap allowed to dry out for two to three hours and then the must is poured back over the cap. De Marchi first experimented with this method in 1996 and subsequently began using it for all red wines from the 1997 vintage. Maturation lasted one year and took place in barrel (of which 5% in new oak) and 4,000 litre oak casks.
A deep crimson red colour. Typical sour cherry and red fruit character with bramble notes. The palate has a supple, lithe character full of perfumed fruit and is given depth by a mineral vein. Structure comes from the taut acidity and tannin structure.
The secret of the success of the Ca’ dei Frati property is the Dal Cero family’s outstanding vineyards. Back in 1987 they had 12 hectares of vineyard, but now, following the purchase of a large chunk of prime vineyard in 2008, they have over 100 hectares. Their investment in their model winery has meant that the increase in quantity has been matched by an increase in quality, and today they are undoubtedly the best producer in Lugana.
All grapes are grown in Ca’ dei Frati’s own vineyards, which are located on the south banks of Lake Garda, near the town of Sirmione. The vines from which “Brolettino” is made (100% Turbiana) were planted in 1971, with clay soils.
Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks before being transferred to small 225 litre barriques for 10 months. Malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place in a selected number of barrels. The wine was then aged in bottle for three months before release.
Pale golden in colour, this wine opens with aromas of stone fruits and a touch of vanilla spice from the oak ageing. The palate has rich peach characters, with a creamy, honeyed texture lifted by stony minerality. Intense and concentrated through to the fresh finish.
Founded in 1880, the Franz Haas winery is a family-owned property that has passed from father to first-born son, Franz Haas. Today, Franz Haas is the seventh generation to grow grapes on this beautiful estate, nestled at the foothills of the Alps. He continues to focus on the grape varieties which best express the wonderful character, varied microclimates and unique terroir of the Alto Adige.
Grapes for the Pinot Nero are grown on the slopes of Pinzano and Gleno in the Montagna area and in Mazzon in the municipality of Egna. The three different vineyard sites are all south-west facing and range from 350-1,150m in altitude. Soils are extremely varied within a tiny area, ranging from clay in one vineyard to sand, limestone or gravel in a neighbouring one. Density of planting is between 8,000-12,500 vines per hectare.
2015 was one of the hottest and driest vintages in recent years. Little rainfall combined with high temperatures meant yields were lower than previous years. Yet the grapes were clean and healthy resulting in a wine of good fruit purity and quality.
Fermentation took place in open top vats with a long maceration and frequent punching down of the cap and many pump overs. This enabled the right extraction of colour and fragrance from the skins. Ageing took place in a mixture of small oak barriques and medium sized ‘botti’ for over a year prior to bottling, followed by five to ten months in bottle before release.
The wine is ruby red in colour and the bouquet opens with notes of black cherries and raspberries, marzipan and plum jam, cloves and cinnamon, ending finally with some light earthy aromas. Fresh and lively on the palate, the wine is bolstered by elegant tannins which make it balanced and rounded.
This splendid 10 hectare hillside estate is situated in the small town of Lessona, near Biella in northern Piemonte.
It passed into the De Marchi family through their relative, Felice Sperino, a passionate viticulturist and professor in Turin in the 19th century. Paolo De Marchi is the winemaker and owner of top Chianti Classico estate Isole e Olena, and he inherited Proprietà Sperino from his grandfather. Since the 1970’s, Paolo dreamt of revitalising the Sperino estate and in the last few years has realised his dream, together with his elder son, Luca.
70% Nebbiolo, 15% Vespolina and 15% Croatina.
The wines were vinified in the old, gravity-fed cellar which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. Fermentation took place in squat, open upright oak casks. Maceration lasted 19 days with regular punching down of the cap. The wine was aged in a mixture of new and old barriques (225 litre), puncheons (500 litres) and 15 hectolitre casks for 18 months, nine of which were on the lees.
Vibrant ruby red, this youthful wine has perfumes full of rich cherry and plum fruit. The lifted palate is packed with attractive juicy fruit and is given great texture by the supple, approachable tannins. The finish is long and inviting.
The Pieropan family has been producing wines in Soave since the 1860s. Indeed, they were the first to bottle a wine with the name Soave on the label, in the early 1930s. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970 and was the first to make a single vineyard wine, Calvarino, in 1971. Nino’s two sons, Andrea and Dario, now work with him running the estate.
The grapes (100% Garganega) were grown in the vineyard of `La Rocca`, which takes its name from the adjacent medieval castle and fortress (“La Rocca”) that dominate the town of Soave, just east of Verona. The soil in La Rocca is unique in Soave in that it is a limestone outcrop (the same soil as in Valpolicella Classico) in a sea of basalt. Because of this soil, Pieropan feel they get sufficient ripeness in the Garganega to make a wine solely from this variety.
After gentle, whole bunch pressing, there was a short period of maceration on the skins followed by fermentation at 20ºC in stainless steel tanks and 500 litre oak casks because Pieropan feels Garganega is too delicate for fermentation in barrique. 60% of the wine then remained in 500 litre oak casks and 40% aged in 2,000 litre `botti` or barrels for one year. The wine then stayed for four months in bottle before release.
Golden yellow in the glass, with intense, concentrated perfumes that follow through to the palate. Classic La Rocca aromas of almond essence and honey lead to an elegant and beautifully balanced palate, with notes of vanilla and almond kernel, ripe apricots and exotic fruit. The long finish has a light minerally edge. Really quite “Burgundian” in style.
Selected grapes were picked in mid September and left to dry in specially ventilated rooms until the end of January. During this time the grapes lost about 40% of their natural weight. The grapes were destemmed and crushed at the end of January. Fermentation temperature was between 18°-22°C with daily periodic pumping over, while the length of maceration was 20 days. This Amarone was matured in oak (a mixture of large ‘botti’ and French oak barriques) for 18 months, lightly fined with egg-whites and then bottled.
Deep and intense on the nose with perfumes of dried cherries and blueberries, with notes of spiced autumn fruit compote. On the palate it is powerful but modern, with a lovely balance of ripe tannins and spiced, concentrated savoury cherry fruit character. A touch of woodsmoke completes the long finish.
Dating from 1888, the Poggi family’s wines combines traditional wooden casks with the very latest technology. Corte dei Castaldi is made with grapes from a selection of local growers, all dried in Poggi’s barns for 4 months (appassimento) and estate bottled.
Made from Corvina, Rondinella & Molinara.
Very dark in appearance with a nose full of dark fruits and hints of bitter chocolate. The full and rich palate has concentrated dark fruit flavours with a twist of dark chocolate and spice on the long finish.
This estate makes some of Italy’s finest sparkling wines from its 200 hectares of vineyard situated in the western part of the Franciacorta zone in a natural amphitheatre. Here the glacial soil is full of stones, so providing the ideal environment for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes used in the production of Bellavista’s Franciacorta.
All work in the vineyards is carried out manually. The grapes (72% Chardonnay & 28% Pinot Noir) are from vines with an average age of over 25 years.
Individual parcels are specially selected for the blend. Made in the ‘traditional method’, 30% of the wines that make up this Vintage Brut are fermented and matured for at least seven months in small oak barrels, the remaining 70% is vinfied in stainless steel. The wine is then blended and bottled and the yeast and sugar for the tirage are added to set off the second fermentation. The wines are aged on lees for a minimum of 5 years after which remuage is carried out by a team of five riddlers. The elegant bottles are designed by the Murano glass factory in Venice.
Bellavista Vintage Brut is a vibrant green gold colour with an exuberant yet fine mousse. The nose has finesse and complexity. Crisp floral notes of hawthorn and bay leaf support ripe white fruits. Dry and elegant on the palate, with ripe fruit and touches of incense. The silky texture and firm backbone are balanced perfectly with fresh acidity. Floral hints and white fruits linger on the finish.
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