The Vaira family, under the leadership of Aldo and his son Giuseppe, produce a range of wines to rival any in Barolo. What most impresses us about the Vajra is how their wines become a reflection for the spirit of the family. Perhaps this is best expressed by Giuseppe’s sister Francesca, who described the moment when her father decided that rather than produce wines to impress, he’d make wines “to make people happy.” This seems to resonate with every wine they produce, from their basic Langhe Rosso to their most prestigious wines from Barolo.
The proper spelling of the family name is Vaira, but when the first set of labels arrived at the winery from the printer in the 1970’s with a “J”, Aldo and Milena didn’t have the money to do another set. From such humble origins, to the current construction of their new state-of-the-art facility, such a dizzying ascent would be difficult for most families to manage. More than anything, this is proof of their resolve to maintain grounded in their mission, which in simplest and purest terms, is to relay their love for the land of Barolo.
We are thrilled to host Francesca Vaira upon her visit to Boston on March 16, and hope you’ll join us from 5-7 pm for a taste of the outstanding current releases from G.D. Vajra.
The Judith Beck estate is based in the commune of Gols, in the Neusiedlersee region, on the eastern side of the Lake Neusiedl. Gols is part of the larger Burgenland region in easternmost Austria, with a very warm climate defined by the Pannonian plain and the Lake, whose temperature can 85 degrees in the summer and is only 1.5 meters deep. Indeed, this is the country’s warmest wine growing area and the first to harvest. It is the center of the production of Austria’s finest dry and full-bodied red wines.
The family estate was founded in 1976 by Matthias and Christine Beck. Their daughter, Judith, assumed full control of the winery in 2004, having made her first vintage in 2001. After graduating from the Klosterneuburg Viniculture College Judith Beck gained international experience at world-renowned wineries, including Château Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux, Braida in Piedmont and Errazuriz in Chile. Managing the family winery comes naturally to Judith who has an innate “sixth-sense” for the regional varieties zweigelt, blaufränkisch and st. laurent.
Judith Beck owns a total of 15 hectares of vines in Gols, with holdings in the vineyard sites Altenberg, Gabarinza, Salzberg and Schafleiten. 85% of the area is planted to red varieties – Blauer Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir and Merlot, with the remaining 15% planted to white varieties – Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. In addition, grapes are brought in from another 5 hectares in the communes of Apetlon, Halbturn and Winden, and used in the production of the basic red wines. Vines are planted at high densities of up to 7,000 vines per hectare to limit yields and ensure ripe fruit at harvest time. Soils range from loam and clay on the lower vineyards to limestone, higher up on the ridges.
The Becks built an impressive new production and aging cellar in 2005. It allows Judith to manipulate her wines as little as possible in the vinification process, resulting in wines of pure and vivid expression of the variety and unique vintage character. Judith Beck’s wines are at once elegant, powerful, complex and possess good aging potential.
Judith and her father Matthias practiced sustainable viticulture from the outset, and converted to biodynamic practice with the 2007 vintage. She uses only native yeasts in the fermentation process. The Red wines are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, in new barriques or in open vats. The wines undergo malolactic fermentation in new barriques or in large oak barrels. Some of the red wines are also matured in large oak vats, some of which are quite old, and are already being used by the third generation of owners.
The philosophy of the domaine is aptly put by Judith: “Wine and the joy of living and pleasure all go hand in hand. We prefer wines which captivate all of our senses with each new bottle and each new sip.”
We’re not going to do better writing about Sven Enderle and Florian Moll than their US importer Stephen Bitterolf, so you might as well start here. We’ll add that we’ve also been infected by the viral buzz surrounding what may as well be the Kraftwerk of the wine world. Their pinot noir is really, really good. Their whites are fascinating, and so far pretty cheap! We didn’t get much of the wine, so don’t hesitate if you’re interest is piqued.