You’ve got wine lovers and you’ve got winemakers. I say this because winemakers are wine lovers times ten! The Winemaker’s dinner with Vajra wines was a story waiting to be told. I know some people might view wine dinners as only a time to eat and drink wine in a way that has been told; they want to learn ideas for pairing wines themselves. That’s fine and really, that is A reason for them. At this one we had a winemaker telling us what life is like on a vineyard, why these wines are made and what it’s like to make them. Giuseppe has held the soil, picked the grapes and tasted the wine so many times to reach perfection.
As a child growing up in the Piemonte (Northern Italy) in the city of Barolo, Giuseppe reminds us that he had a very different childhood than our own. Before our starter he was talking about drinking wine with his family at a young age. He said his mother knew that the wine they drank the most was the best wine. At 15 his father decided he wanted to start making wine and has since taught Giuseppe.
The Barolo wine region and specifically Vajra grows Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa and Moscato. They also make Riesling! The wines we tried and the food we ate below.
G.D. Vajra Langhe Doc Riesling Petracine 2010: 100% Riesling and a terrific one at that. It had the taste of a German Riesling – clean, crisp, lemon-lime and apple delight. This wine was our aperitif. Giuseppe’s mother said that Riesling is the perfect wife to a Barolo, an ancient life together. It’s full of flavour and personality – it’s a treasure and speaks of the place it’s from. He went on to say that when they had Germans or the French, they hid the Riesling because they felt like they would upset them with great Riesling from Italy.
G.D. Vajra Dolcetto D’alba 2010: 100% Dolcetto which boasted of summer herbal and berry notes. We ate veal meatballs with an herb pesto to pair with the Dolcetto and the wine made the meatballs taste wonderfully. The herbs in the wine helped to bring the herbs in the meatballs out!
G.D. Vajra Barbera D’alba 2008: 100% Barbera also served with the meatballs. The Barbera is fruitier than the Dolcetto with red and black berries. The wine was elegant with the meatballs melding with the ripe tomato sauce adding a bit of spice as well.
G.D. Vajra Barolo ‘Le Albe’ 2007: 100% Nebbiolo one of my favourites! Served with duck, sea beans and a layered potato side. They call Nebbiolo the Kings of wines, wines of Kings. The duck was soft and luscious and the wine brought bright fruit. This wine was amazing with the food. The bottle has a sunrise on it and from the Vajra location they can see the sunrise 3 times.
Vajra, Barolo ‘Bricco Delle Viole’ 2003: 100% Nebbiolo another good choice for the duck. ‘Bricco Delle Viole’ means the hill of violets. These grapes are grown where the snow melts quickly to help provide the full spicy flavour. With robust tannins and roses and raspberries on the nose, the duck rounded the wine perfectly.
G.D. Vajra Moscato D’asti 2011: 100% Moscato lightly sparkling and full of sweet fruit. Apricots, peach and citrus fill the mouth and linger slightly in the bubbles. This wine would have been dessert enough, BUT we indulged and ate basil ice cream atop white chocolate, a layer of raspberry and finished with yogurt panna cotta (ish) layer. It was beyond amazing. I wish I could have had this all day long!
So there you have it… a winemaker’s dinner as fast as I could type it. I sat with strangers, I left with friends. Just as Giuseppe’s father’s philosophy: wine should unify people around the table.