Langhe Riesling Petracine 2020 from G D Vajra

G D Vajra are a great producer of Nebbiolo. Their Moscato d’Asti is totally delicious, and bottled with a screwcap – a very sensible move. Langhe Riesling ‘Pètracine’… An interesting idea…

First, ‘Pètracine’ – it is an old synonym for Riesling meaning roots into soil. The Vajra family wanted to plant this in vineyards that should enable a good expression of Riesling.

Next, the vines were planted from cuttings taken from top sites in the Alsace Grand Crus, the Pfalz and Rheingau. They were planted in two vineyards in 1985 and 1986. One of these vineyards is the great Barolo vineyard Fossati, that has some deep soil for Pètracine to get its roots into.

It seems the vine cuttings would have provided good genetic material. Moreover, when this 2020 Langhe Riesling Pètracine was harvested, the vines were properly mature at 34-35 years old. This should all provide for good grapes with which to make wine.

Three thoughts bounce around the yawning, hollow, vacant spaces of my mind. The first of these is simply that this wine seems quite enthusiastically priced.

Langhe Riesling Pètracine is a Lady Godiva more expensive than Zind-Humbrecht Clos Häuserer, a Riesling from a very serious Alsace producer (especially now Olivier Humbrecht is not making gloopy, sweet tooth-rotters) grown on a good vineyard site – just under the Hengst Grand Cru. It had better be good or I will feel somewhat vexed.

Secondly, I am concerned I am drinking this wine too late in its life – or at least during as difficult time for it. I wouldn’t drink a sweeter German wine of this age now, nor would I drink a 2020 Alsace Riesling.

This is because Riesling goes through different stages of expression as it ages. At about 3-5 years the aromas and flavours Rieslings show are often quite muted and reserved in character, a phase its their development generally called being ‘shut down’.

Being shut down does not mean that the Rieslings of this age display no character at all, just that the intensity of youth has retreated and the complex citrus aromas of age, that some people describe as ‘petrolly’, are yet to emerge. This is a difficult period in a Riesling’s life at which to taste it.

Finally, the Langhe Riesling Pètracine may get its roots deep into soil, but are the soils of Piedmont compatible with making fine Riesling? Riesling is one of the most well-travelled varietals in the world. If Riesling had been suitable for growing in Piedmont, perhaps it should have been embedded in the wine tapestry of the region by now. We shall see!

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2020 Langhe Riesling Pètracine G D Vajra

Langhe Riesling Pètracine 2020, G D Vajra

This smells open for business. There is a pleasingly pure lime character on the nose, together with an array of ripe tropical fruits that are quite overt and a herbal hint – Thai basil, I would say.

It is said that one cannot smell sweetness, indeed sugar has very little aroma, but this does not show the slight austerity I would associate with a dry Riesling. It is different to Alsace, Austrian or German Grosse Gewachs, the main European dry styles of Riesling.

With that lime focus and explosion of tropical fruit, this smells more like a Mosel Kabinett to me. A young one, at that, with its fruity ‘puppy fat’ that is ripe for plucking. It is not slatey like a Mosel Kabinett, but there is a suggestion of rocky earth to this. This character is not pronounced like the fruit and Thai basil, but you can detect it.

Unlike the nose, the palate appears to have a huge alcoholic afterburn. Langhe Riesling Pètracine claims to be 12.5% and that seemed right on the nose but the palate has something hot with the suggestion of sweetness about it – both signs of high alcohol. This is perplexing.

Langhe Riesling Pètracine has good acidity, nice lime and tropical fruit on the entry that develops to show more of that herbal character.

And then it stops.

There is an enormous hole on the mid-palate. It just dies as you swirl it around your mouth. Odd. This could be because it is shut down, so I am going to swirl my glass like crazy and give the bottle a vigorous shake for a few minutes to try and open the thing up a little.

No, even after I’ve kept a taste in my glass for over 90 minutes after the meal this still lacks flavour in the mid-palate. Oh bugger.

The acidity perks the finish up a bit, but its all dull stuff after that lovely entry.

You can probably tell from this that it is quite simple. This is a real disappointment for a wine at this price point.

I suggest you avoid. If you are a rabid G D Vajra fan, more rabid than me and I am distinctly hydrophobic, and you want to blow some money just to try their full range, get a bottle of this. Stick it in the cellar for 2-3 years just in case I have been more vastly mistaken than a man who believes that Hilaire Belloc is still alive, and it is just closed down.

You are wasting your money, though, get Clos Häuserer or really save some money and get a scrumptious 2022 Mosel Kabinett. They are lovely.

Buy from Lay and Wheeler, if you really want to…

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