E Pira and GD Vajra 2017 Barolo Offer

The extraordinary 2017 Barolos themselves certainly perked me up, however. Extraordinary, because contrary to the expectations one normally has of what is summarised as a torrid year, the wines were fresh rather than having rich or jammy fruit. They also tended to have succulent acidity and a muscular, tannic structure.

What shines through in 2017 is the individual qualities of the crus, although according to me what is more important is how well the producer knows his or her cru...In general you can't go wrong with the famous Barolo crus in 2017. WALTER SPELLER, www.jancisrobinson.com

In tasting, the 2017s are mid-weight Barolos with the classic structure of Nebbiolo. They are often intensely aromatic. Acids and tannins are prominent in many wines. The fruit profiles are ripe, often distinctly red-toned, but not cooked or over-ripe. Perhaps most importantly, the 2017 Barolos are very true to site, which is always a concern with vintages marked by warm weather. The best 2017s are exceptionally polished, vivid and flat-out delicious. ANTONIO GALLONI

It's a very good day when offering any Barolo but when I offer two of the greatest producers in E. Pira and GD Vajra, then that's a very special day! I don't usually do this, but because my allocations for both producers is next to nothing, I decided it was a good opportunity to showcase them together. In many ways it makes sense, both producers share two things, they're from the Barolo commune and both occupy rare air in the pantheon of modern day superstar producers of the region. The other thing to note about both producers is that they have produced sensational 2017s.

As both Galloni and Speller note in the quotes above, 2017 vintage produced beautiful wines that are especially true to site. That's certainly true of the selections from Boschis and Vajra, both sets of wines display remarkable balance, vibrant and well defined aromatic and flavour profiles. They are a revelation and a more than worthy follow up to the majestic 2016 vintage. In fact, I would rather drink 2017 as they sit now than 2016 which will need a good few years to unwind.

I have written a short profile of both producers below along with pricing, limits and reviews. I have also included the wines of Luigi Baudana. Guiseppe Vaira makes the wines at this address and the family's are cousins. They are wonderful wines, different in structure and personality owing to their different terroir in Serralunga.

Cheers

Michael McNamara


E. PIRA (CHIARA BOSCHIS) - BAROLO

Chiara Boschis's 2017 Barolos are among the most succesful wines of the vintage. In 2017, the Cannubi and Mosconi are especially fine, but it has gotten very hard to choose here. ANTONIO GALLONI

In Chiara Boschis - the indefatigable owner and winemaker of E Pira - you have a generational talent whose drive and passion have made E Pira one of the greatest estates in Barolo today. Starting out as one of the Barolo "Boys" she took over this historic estate and immediately made an impact. Taking ultra old school styling out and injecting more modern methodologies, the wines under the label changed overnight and within a few vintages she was being hailed as one of the great winemakers of her time.

Since then, she has tweaked and changed and worked tirelessly in her vineyards in a search for greater understanding. Never one to be mired in a philosophical vacuum she has also implemented change in the cellars and nowadays styling "straddles" both modern and traditional - Cannubi and Via Nuova see larger botte where once there was only barrique and Mosconi, owing to its Monforte heft remains the only Barolo to see meaningful time in smaller French wood (if smaller wood is used in the other cuvees it is older and neutral).

These days she has also been joined by her brother Giovanni and together the pair purchased several other vineyards about a decade ago. Importantly, this has meant that the Via Nuova, once mostly a wine of Terlo vineyard - is now a blend from vineyards spanning some premier sites of the region: Terlo, Paiagallo and Liste (in Barolo); Ravera and Mosconi (in Monforte); and Gabutti and Baudana (in Serralunga). This is usually my favourite wine in the range, the sum of its parts being so much more interesting than those alone.

Of course the crowning glory of any Barolo-based producer is Cannubi and my feeling is that Chiara's changed pruning to provide more protective canopy on this beautifully exposed site is returning huge dividends in quality. The more recent expressions have been wonderful.

The dark horse both in flavour profile and position in the cellar hierarchy is the Mosconi. It's brooding and deep and in its youth shows some oak but looking deeper into the wine it is something quite special.

GD VAJRA - BAROLO

The Vajra family produced a bevy of stellar wines from both their estates, G.D. Vajra in Barolo and Baudana in Serralunga. The 2017s are deep, fleshy and impeccably balanced. ANTONIO GALLONI

Let me start by saying that we had the opportunity to taste through this range the other day and it is a uniformly beautiful set of Baroli. The wines show the self-assurance you feel from the family members when you visit this stellar estate. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I'm not sure that as a group, the range isn't even higher in quality than the 2016s.

G.D. Vajra is undoubtedly one of Piedmont's jewels, standing out for the brilliance with which it fuses tradition with progressive ideas and a sense of adventure. This family strives to inspire in people the same passion for this land and its wines that runs in their veins. Giuseppe Vaira is the second-generation face of the estate, which he runs alongside brother Isidoro and sister Francesca, and under the fond gaze of parents, Aldo and Milena. With coveted holdings in their home commune of Barolo as well as Novello, Sinio and Serralunga. G.D. Vajra excels with the Piedmont staples: Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Moscato and the very rare Freisa. Meanwhile a fabulous Riesling, bunchy nouveau-style Nebb and screwcapped Langhe Rosso show their creative flair, while cru Barolo from the likes of Bricco delle Viole, Ravera, Cerretta and Baudana are some of the finest examples you'll find from this region's precious terroir.

Stylistically, I would say they are "modern traditionalists" - their wines see protective winemaking in alcoholic fermentation with the use of stainless steel and temperature control at centre stage but new or small wood are kept out of the elevage to preserve the varietal and site specific characteristics in their purest form.

This is a A-grader of the genre, they project confidence in their process and the wines reflect that, no more so than in 2017 vintage where they have excelled beyond even their own high expectations.

LUIGI BAUDANA - SERRALUNGA

Luigi Baudana are cousins of the Vaira family and Guiseppe is in charge of the winemaking at this brilliant micro-estate. Always typical of the austerity in structure found in great Serralunga and each vineyard plot speaks its own story so eloquently. They are quite beautiful wines and the 2017s are no exception. Numbers available are even smaller than anything else in this offer. A producer loved by the cognoscenti for good reason.