Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Two Fine italian Wines for the Gift-giving Holiday Season
Wine for december – under $20
G. D. Vajra, Langhe DOC Rosso 2010 (about $16)
Langhe Rosso is not a category that shows up frequently on restaurant or wine bar wine lists. That is unfortunate because Langhe Rosso wines generally are vibrant, generous, early-drinking, food-friendly wines that carry easy-on-the-wallet price tags.
The Langhe DOC is a large classified zone that includes much of the premier wine growing areas surrounding the town of Alba in the Piedmont region and Langhe Rosso is one subset of DOC wines produced in this zone. The Langhe Rosso designation does not denote any specific grape variety. It’s simply called Langhe Rosso and these wines can be produced from any one or more of the red varieties grown in the Langhe area.
Langhe Rosso is very popular in its native Piedmont region with many Piemontese using it as their everyday “go-to” wine. It is a fixture at daily dinner tables and informal gatherings involving close friends. They are relatively inexpensive, reliable, and engaging wines. With balanced acidity and tannins they are very food-friendly and generally go well with many different types of cuisine from seafood and chicken to beef.
G. D. Vajra’s Langhe Rosso is a great introduction to this group of wines for those unfamiliar with the denomination. The estate’s 2010 Langhe Rosso is comprised of several indigenous Langhe varieties, specifically Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbara. But its complexity has been cranked up a notch by the addition of small amounts of Pinot Noir, Freisa and Albarossa to the blend.
The G. D. Vajra Langhe Rosso is garnet red in color with a purple tinge and pleasing black fruit aromas that follow through in the taste. It is medium-to-full bodied with a rich tannic backbone and a pleasant spice-note finish. With its primary mix of indigenous varieties it has a distinctly Piemontese character.
It’s a charming and accessible wine with a lot of character at a wallet-friendly price. With its good balance of acidity and tannins it’s a wine suitable for a variety of occasions and something you might want to keep several bottles of handy for those drop-by, impromptu gatherings that are a feature of the holiday season.
Poderi Luigi Einaudi, “Terlo” Barolo DOCG 2007 (about $65)
A Barolo from a reputable producer and a good vintage is a joy to behold. It is one of Italy’s best red wines - structured and complex with all sorts of alluring aromas and flavors and one that only gets better with age. It’s a great wine to give to that special someone or colleague and - need I say? - even better to receive. A gift of a quality Barolo from a pedigreed producer indicates the gift-giver gave some care and thought to the selection as opposed to just quickly grabbing a bottle with a pretty label off the wine shop shelf.
The 2007 “Terlo” Barolo from the Einaudi estate is a wine that’s sure to please this holiday season. 2007 was an excellent vintage in the Piedmont region with Robert Parker giving it a 97 rating and Wine Spectator a 95 rating. The warm growing season was balanced by cooler temperatures at harvest time that resulted in rich and opulent but structured wines with good ageing potential.
The Nebbiolo grapes for this cru wine are sourced from Einaudi’s Terlo vineyard, the estate’s oldest vineyard where some of the vines are almost 40 years old. Harvested in late September, the grapes were fermented in stainless steel and then aged in a combination of barriques and oak casks for two and a half years. The wine was then bottled where it spent six months ageing before release for sale.
The wine has an expressive and enticing aromatic bouquet which escorts you towards a lively mouthful of concentrated dark cherry and plum flavors with accents of kitchen spices. It has good mouthfeel and texture backed up by firm tannins. While very drinkable now this wine will also age well for another 8 - 10 years.
There’s a lot to like here which is pretty much what you expect from any Einaudi Barolo.
Like other Barolo wines the Einaudi Terlo Barolo is best paired with dishes with prominent flavors but you want to be careful not to overwhelm them with foods with rich sauces. For a match made in heaven try it with a steak fillet or with feathered game such as wild duck, goose or pheasant.
December 6, 2014
To view other wine of the month selections, see Monthly Wine Reviews