2017 G D Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo

Another Vajra and another sublime mouthful of Piemonte. Opens with slightly rusty, earthy scents that warm to fine, just ripe cherries with perfumed pot pourri on the edges. Became riper and richer over four days with Nebbiolo’s typical resistance to oxygen exposure. Seems ripe and generous by Vajra’s usual standards of grace and demeanour, perhaps a sign of a warm and riper vintage? Certainly delicious now and still plenty of that pleasing Piemontese stone and rock to cut the generous red cherries and sweet almond paste. Their 2016 Baroli are going to do some serious damage to the wine budget I fear.

14% alcohol. Cork. $45.

93 points.

2007 La Spinetta Langhe Nebbiolo

Opened a bit dull and browning but in the tradition of ageing Neb the colour freshened to a deeper red and the fruit gained weight. Some oddly distracting spice and herby liqueur smells also bobbed up, perhaps from this maker’s love of small oak barrels? Despite the static the fruit is dense and fresh with typical cherry and tar floating on settled acidity and considerable tannin. Just a bit too drying maybe? Leads to speculation about how much Nebbiolo really needs oak tannin as it just seems to jar against that lovely ripe skin extraction. The fruit wins in the end but does it need the make up?

14% alcohol. Cork. $25 from Murphy’s clearance back in 2012. Worth the risk.

91 points.

2008 Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo

Wine obsessed people can be so generous. Catching up with a good friend, they dropped this in my paws with the words, “bought a lot of this, think you should take one, it’s looking good at the moment”. Well, they’re correct as well as very kind. Bottle development smells of caramel with dusty pot pourri, dark cherries and earthy tar. Same in the mouth with a structure that’s melded fruit, tannin and acid into a seamless whole that runs on polished rails. Can’t see this particular bottle getting any better, others may, others not, such are the venerable. It’s surely a delicious pointer to the way a 2008 Barolo might be going. This is the sort of thing that just makes you want to raid the cellar and share, soon, eh? Thanks.

13.50% alcohol. Cork.

92 points.

2016 G D Vajra Langhe Rosso

Really fresh, pure and crunchy red fruits with the flowers and bass of Nebbiolo stretching the spectrum of flavour. A blend it seems of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto with tiny bits of Freisa, Albarossa and surprise, Pinot Noir. First day of cracking the screwcap and the Nebb shows most, bit of a dull red colour and rusty flavour. Three days later, no hint of oxygen causing any damage. The colour actually deepened to bright red and the other components filled out the middle with beautifully poised, clean, red fruits like cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Some almond, spice and tar too. Mouthwatering acidity and a drag of Nebb tannin. Blimey, the Vajras are making such succinctly delicious stuff now. 2016 a star of a year.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap, yes! $30 bargain!

94 points.

2017 Piero Benevelli Langhe Nebbiolo

Three Langhe Nebbioli in a row. Obsessional probably as it’s not quite the appropriate drink for a languid Melbourne January. Strangely though when it’s cool from the fridge the bright red fruit and mouth whacking tannin and acidity seem to fit a light veg pasta or pizza. Well, that’s the excuse and witness the olive oily fingerprints on the label! This certainly is a good smack in the chops with a Benevelli lift of rose oil, almost sandalwood, bright red cherries and a youthfully unrestrained belt of tannin and acid. Can’t accuse it of being rounded or smooth going, just delicioso. Be good to have a look in a couple of years. Sophisticated famiglia contadina.

14% alcohol. Screwcap, well done Mondo. $30.

91 points.

2015 Michele Chiarlo Il Principe Langhe Nebbiolo

BFrom a hotter vintage than the previous post’s reportedly close to perfect 2016, this is a bit less vibrantly red in colour, richer and more tarry. Perhaps a rounding caramel barrel taste, just a hint. The focus is clean, fat cherry and earth Nebbiolo with firm ripe melting tannin and a merged fresh acid tug. Unarguably Langhe and could pass for basic Barolo or Barbaresco. A direct import under one of Woolie’s cryptic business names. Hopefully it’ll appear with further discounts.

13.50% alcohol. Diam. $35.

93 points.

2016 Fontanafredda Ebbio Langhe Nebbiolo

Currently at Dan’s for about $25 and as good an intro to the savoury delight of Piemontese Nebbiolo as you can get for the money. Spotlessly clean bright red cherry, that almond paste again and a touch of tarry earth. Only just medium weight but carries well and finishes with a satisfying chomp. A simple pasta took it up a notch, no surprise there!

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap! $25.

91 points.