Vail Valley Finds from the Vine: A royal Italian red
VAIL, Colorado The Piedmont region in northwest Italy is home to several lovely red grapes: Nebbiolo is king (or queen, stylistically), Barbera is more the prince. Whereas Nebbiolo based wines Barolo and Barbaresco mainly may take years to soften and develop, the Barbera wines from around the towns of Asti and Alba are richer and fuller when young, with just enough tannins to balance the wine. The 2005 G. D. Vajra Barbera dAlba is beautiful right now. Soft, dark berry and violet aromas leap out of the glass, and those same flavors come through on the palate. A little earth and white pepper spice give some body and zing, respectively, and the whole shebang comes together and finishes off with a bit of acidity, just to prove that the wine is Italian. A hint of dark chocolate and black cherry come through on the finish as well, to round things out nicely.If you were lucky enough to visit Splendido a little over a week ago, you met winemaker Giuseppe Vajra, all of 25 years old and at the top of his game. Vajra is slowly taking the reins from his father, Aldo, who still oversees the operation. G. D. Vajra makes wines a little softer and spicier than most from this region, but all of their Barberas and Barolos still have the stuffing to last for years in your cellar. Drink the 2005 Barbera dAlba now or wait 2 to 4 years. Try it with roasts, grilled lamb or game, and pheasant or turkey. At the Splendido event, it paired perfectly with thinly sliced calamari cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. The 2005 G. D. Vajra Barbera dAlba is $31.Jarrett Osborn is the wine buyer at Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.