Here’s another find from Sharon on her vay-cay to Europe this summer. It was a family holiday and therefore not a wine-centric trip but my pal negotiated herself a couple wine indulgent days in Barolo.
The Vajra Winery was recommended by the hotel. After a quick cross-reference of “the List” (the typed out, lost, found then painstakingly hand written out slice of The 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die), Sharon set off to explore.
The owner, Aldo Vaira overflowed with pride and commitment to his craft. “The dream is not to correct or change the vintage, but to allow the true character of the grape to shine through.” (Oddly, Aldo chose to express himself in French, somehow believing this would be more easily understood than his native Italian. Sharon normally speaks only English/Scottish, but Aldo‘s passion was easily translated.)
Our bottle, the Azienda Agricola G.D. Vajra, Barolo ‘Bricco delle Viole’ 2005 was a gift from Aldo’s beautiful wife Melina. What an honor. Melina also gave Sharon’s teenage boys a bottle of Moscato d’Asti, as it “has less preservatives than juice”. (Of course it does. Brilliant.)
I’ll happily admit how much I love (and more often than not, drink) New World Wine. Many are downright delicious. However, I have yet to experience one that can rival quality European wine with respect to complexity and finesse. The first sip of our Barolo stopped us in our tracks. It was as if I had plunged into the deep end of a pool. We dove through layer upon paper-thin layer of flavour and nuance. My notes are a little scratchy (which happens sometimes during an outer body experience) but it looks like I recognized notes of gingerbread, rose petal, tar, black fruit, furniture polish, truffle oil and tea.
This is exactly the kind of wine that it is recommended to drink on its own. With so much going on in the glass a pairing can often be an unwelcome distraction. If accompanied by food, the choices should remain simple, as in a wedge of aged cheddar, a roast leg of lamb, or simply prepared Cornish game hen.
Post cross-country relocation, I was fortunate enough to return to Vancouver Island for a week. Sharon generously opened this precious bottle on my last night. The lingering finish of this iconic Italian wine is matched by a memory of a quiet night with my lovely friend Sharon and her equally lovely husband Guy.
What a fortunate adventure.