Today, we’re taking you to a magical land, a place where fine wines perfect for ageing are produced from particularly sought-after, exquisite terroirs. Come to Piedmont in Italy with us to visit Barolo where Aldo Vaira has been crafting wines with remarkable elegance since the 1970s.
Falling in love with this domain’s land
The history of this vineyard is a bit unusual and deserves taking a closer look at. When the student protests broke out in Europe at the end of the 1960s, Aldo Vaira took part to the surprise of his father Giuseppe Domenico. He went on the spend the summer in the countryside with his grandparents in the Barolo region. It was there at 15 years of age that he fell head over heels in love with the enormity of the region, giving him the idea to come and work the land there. He achieved just that in the 1970s at a time when people were tending to leave the countryside to go live in the towns and cities during the economic boom. With the help of his father, who signed the papers for him as he wasn’t an adult yet, he started his vineyard G.D Vajra in Vergne, the highest village in the appellation, taking up the family viticultural tradition. While the family may not have made wine, it had owned vines for many years.
A labour of love
Starting out came with its difficulties but the passionate young man saw it through. He took winemaking courses at the university in Alba during the day and him and his wife Milena worked in the vineyards in the evenings and on weekends. Through their hard work, the estate has grown in size and now stands at 40 hectares. The vines come from massal selection, and 10 hectares are set aside for Nebbiolo, this region’s noble grape variety, in superb, sought-after vineyards such as Fossati, La Volta, Bricco delle Viole and Coste di Vergne. They grow at altitude, between 350 and 400 metres, and take all the nutrients they need from several soil types thanks to the use of organic, biodynamic and sustainable growing methods.
Fine wines that caused a stir
Quite quickly, Aldo Vaira was given the label of being the most modern traditionalist and the most traditional modernist in the region during the 1980s. He didn’t worry about which group he fell into and let the wine do the talking. “They don’t need to be loud, and they don’t need to show their muscles.” He prefers to favour finesse and elegance rather than overuse wood which was in vogue then. It’s the different, beautiful plots that he owns which are at the centre of his wines. The grapes are harvested by hand late and then rigorously sorted several times before vinification takes place. Maceration and maturation are particularly long, which are what allows the wines to be perfectly balanced between power, ampleness, and generosity as well as possessing extremely delicate tannins. These came from the classic varieties such as Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera as well as from rarer and more original varieties like Freisa, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Moscato.
Love of the earth passed down to the children
Today, Aldo and Milena Vaira are joined by their three adult children Giuseppe, Francesca and Isidoro who have inherited this love of the land from their parents. The family bought the viticultural domain Luigi Baudana in 2008 and the three children now manage its five hectares in Serralunga d’Alba. A venture to follow closely as well!
- Langhe DOC Nebbiolo: A delicate and perfumed Nebbiolo from biodynamic viticulture.
- Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore: This wine’s secret? A small selection from the best plots and grapes which are themselves sorted three times before vinification.
- Barolo DOCG Bricco Albe: A Barolo to spend many, many years in the cellar made from Nebbiolo that was macerated and matured for a particularly long time.
- Barolo DOCG Costa di Rose: An especially long maceration (between 45 and 50 days) allows the Nebbiolo to deliver the quintessence of its identity through this silky, complex wine that is undeniably made for ageing.
- Barolo DOCG Ravera: A Piedmont fine wine for ageing created by a family that uses organic and biodynamic methods and long maceration and maturation times.
- Dolcetto d’Alba DOC: This intense Dolcetto was matured in vats in order to conserve the charm of its fruity notes.