91

2013 G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba, Piedmont

( £13, 13%, Liberty Wines )

This is only the “entry point” Dolcetto from the Vajra family, but it’s still a deliciously aromatic example of Piedmont’s everyday red. Aromatic and fruity, showing flavours of plum and black cherry, as well as aromas of violets, it’s at its best when lightly chilled. Aren’t we all? Long and refreshing with chalky acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Italy, Red
96

2010 G.D. Vajra Luigi Baudana, Cerretta, Barolo, Piedmont

( TBC, 14.5%, Liberty Wines )

Even chalkier and fresher than the Baudana bottling under the same label, this has more perfume, elegance and finesse, with a tautness and minerality that are thrilling to taste. Essence of Serralunga, with fine, silky tannins, good structure and a sweet, complex finish that goes on and on and on. Beautiful Barolo. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-30Similar Wines: £30-£50, 96-100, Red
95

2010 G.D. Vajra Luigi Baudana, Baudana, Barolo, Piedmont

( TBC, 14.5%, Liberty Wines )

The Luigi Baudana wines come entirely from Serralunga d’Alba, widely considered the best village in the Barolo region. This is more closed and concentrated than the sweeter, riper 2009, but has finer tannins, too, and the classic chalky undertone of eastern Barolo. It’s a serious, even sligthly backward wine with excellent structure and ageing potential. Give this wine time. 

BuyDrinking window: 2018-30Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Italy, Red, Nebbiolo
94

2010 G.D. Vajra Ravera, Barolo, Piedmont

( TBC, 14.5%, Liberty Wines )

More structured than the Bricco delle Viole, this comes from a 2.2 hectare, south- and south-east facing vineyard and is a first release. It’s got a bloody, almost iron-like note on the palate, firmish but well integrated tannins and minerally freshness. The tannins need food (preferably a lump of protein) to take away their edge. One to tuck away.

BuyDrinking window: 2018-32Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Italy, Red, Nebbiolo
96

2010 G.D. Vajra, Bricco delle Viole, Barolo, Piedmont

( TBC, 14.5%, Liberty Wines )

So appealing now that you are almost tempted to pull the cork, but give this superlative Barolo some time. Old vines, marl soils, a top vintage and brilliant winemaking all combine beautifully here. Elegant, minerally and poised, this has a red fruits sweetness that is almost reminiscent of Pinot Noir, but with a firmer backbone of acidity and tannin. Fine, silky and very long. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-30Similar Wines: £30-£50, 96-100, Italy, Red, Nebbiolo
93

2013 G.D. Vajra, Coste & Fossati, Dolcetto d'Alba, Piedmont

( £18, 13.5%, Wine Liberty )

Made from a “proprietary selection of red-stalked clones”, the estate’s top Dolcetto hails from a single vineyard in Vergne. Rich in colour and more concentrated that the straight Dolcetto d’Alba, it’s worth the extra money. Plush and aromatic, with sweet plum and damson fruit, soft tannins and a sweet, lingering finish. Dolcetto doesn’t get much better than this. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Italy, Red
92

2012 G.D. Vajra, Barbera d'Alba, Barbera d'Alba, Piedmont

( £16, TBC, Liberty Wines )

The straight Barbera d’Alba is mostly fermented in stainless steel, but sees a small percentage of new oak for extra complexity. Savoury, sweet and refreshing, it has a little more acidity and tannin than the Dolcetto, but is still deliciously approachable as a young wine. Pure, tranpsarent and appealing, this shows the elegance that is to typical of this producer’s wines. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Italy, Red
93

2011 G.D. Vajra, Barbera d'Alba Superiore, Barbera d'Alba, Piedmont

( £23, 15%, Liberty Wines )

Slightly higher in alcohol than the regular Barbera, this is mostly sourced from the Bricco delle Viole vineyard, where the vines are 40 years old. Aged in neutral Slavonian oak, it’s creamy, smooth and savoury, with impressive texture, notes of liquorice and dried herbs, polished tannins and a warm, full-bodied finish. A Barbera that’s definitely worth keeping for a few years. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-19Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Italy, Red
90

2011 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, Veronese

( £10-15, 13.5%, Liberty Wines )

This is one of the best vintages yet of this modern Veneto blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese, partly made using the Ripasso technique. The chalky soils of this excellent vineyard are apparent in the freshness and minerality of the wine. It’s compact, yet still bright and nuanced, showing subtle oak, good structure and flavours of bramble and blackberry, with a savoury, earthy twist. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Italy, Red, Corvina
94

2013 Thousand Candles Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria

( £45-50, 13.5%, Alliance Wine )

Bill Downie is best known for his extraordinary Pinot Noirs, which rank among the best in Australia, but he’s no slouch when it comes to making Syrah either, as this Southern Yarra Valley example demonstrates. Spicy, refreshing and subtly oaked this is made using what Downie calls “enhanced biodynamics”. The acidity, structure and perfume of the wine, with a savoury undertone from whole bunch fermentation, are deliciously well integrated. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz
93

2011 Les Blancs Manteaux, Domaine de la Noblaie, Chinon, Loire Valley

( £13.50, 13%, Haynes, Hanson & Clark )

The “white coats” in the name refers to the limestone soils that give this remarkable Cabernet Franc its refreshing minerality. Pure, almost transparent winemaking allows the terroir to speak. Grassy, elegant and refined with a long, polished finish and filigree tannins.

BuySimilar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Red, Cabernet Franc