By now I have run out of superlatives for Vajra. Suffice it to say these are some of the finest, artisan wines being made in Piedmont today.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
It is with enormous pleasure that we welcome G.D. Vajra of Barolo to the CellarHand portfolio. We’ve long been enormous fans of the wines and – through various personal means – enjoyed crossing paths with the Vaira family. It’s clear they share so much in common with CellarHand and the growers in our portfolio: tremendous pride in their origins and values; commitment to family and home; and a spirit of adventure. On top of that, as leaders in their field with open minds and broad horizons, we feel this is a real meeting of minds, hearts and wills.
As is always the case with CellarHand, this addition to the family owes much to an existing friendship. Stephen Pannell lived in Barolo for a time and worked vintage with the Vairas. He fell for their warmth, generosity and immaculate wines. Steve will henceforth be importing the wines into South Australia – and it was he who, when the time was right, kindly suggested that his surrogate family in Vergne should hook up with us as exclusive importer for the rest of Australia.
We didn’t need a second invitation. Many of the team tasted with brothers Giuseppe and Isidoro at ProWein in March before a couple more of us headed to the family home to walk the vineyards in spring and take an even closer look at what promises to be a very bright future for the estate.
Many will need no introduction to what Antonio Galloni of Vinous Media calls “a world of sublime hand-crafted, artisan wines of the very highest level”. But to those who do, it’s now run in the second generation by Giuseppe, Isidoro and Francesca Vaira, lovingly overseen by father Aldo and mother Milena. It was Aldo that founded G.D. Vajra, kicking off with a counter-cultural twist by returning to his ancestors’ land in the early ‘70s, when all else were deserting the countryside in droves. That spirit of tradition with an adaptive streak characterises this far-sighted outfit. Indeed, Aldo’s decision to embrace the rogue ‘j’ on the label – a print error that happens to hark back to the pre-1920s spelling of the family name – says a lot about the clan’s capacity to roll with it and nimbly fuse its roots with the future.
Over the years they’ve acquired coveted holdings in their home commune of Barolo as well as Novello, Sinio and Serralunga – this latter home to the stupendous wines they produce under their Luigi Baudana label.
The family excels with all the Piedmont staples – Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Moscato and the very rare Freisa, as well as Riesling that is far better than it has any right to be. Barolo Albe has made a name for itself as one of the best-value Barolos going, while Bricco delle Viole has cemented a reputation as one of the finest cru Barolo wines period (though the aforementioned Luigi Baudana wines – entrusted to the Vairas in 2009 – give it a run for its money). At the more everyday level, there’s a wonderful Langhe Rosso, Langhe Nebbiolo and the highly original, intensely drinkable Claré JC – a wickedly bright, tank-raised, 25% whole-bunch, nouveau-style Nebb.
So much to look forward to, then. Our first shipment of G.D. Vajra wines will land midwinter down under. It will be a full and whole-hearted celebration of this great estate, with young wines from 2016 and ‘17 through to the brilliant Barolos from 2014.
We can’t wait.