Another day, another great Italian buffet breakfast at Corte Gondina. Soon thereafter we arrived at Domenico Clerico. His facility looks like a giant spaceship on top of a hill. The modern architecture sticks out like a sore thumb in the area with all the old, traditional looking structures. I have been buying and cellaring Clerico wines now for years - largely due to the high scores they receive from Antonio Galloni. I've had a few of the older Ginestra Barolo that have been delicious at Babbo and Capriccio on Bonaire. The facility is quite large and completely modern. No surprise there since it was just built. The tasting room has a beautiful view and our host was very kind and hospitable. I found the wines less than interesting though. Modern and lacking in soul. This hurt a bit since I have so much of the wines in my cellar. My favorite wine of the tasting wasn't even a Barolo. It was the current Barbera d'Alba. I strongly prefer the traditional wines - I'm sure that is pretty obvious.
After a good lunch at La Salita in Monforte we started our afternoon visit at G.D. Vajra. I loved this visit. We were hosted by the young and passionate Francesca Vajra - the daughter of the owner and founder of the winery. Francesca was a fantastic host. Her hospitality and passion for the wines was a stark contrast to what we experienced at Elvio Cogno just a few days early. Francesca poured us through the entire current offering of G.D. Vajra. The wines showed very, very well. I have always enjoyed Vajra wines and buy them when I see them. They can be hard to find - I usually buy them from Astor Wines in NYC. The tour of the wine making facility was interesting as it was easily the most packed of any wine making facility that we saw. There is literally no room to move around. The space constraints certainly aren't hurting the quality of the juice.
Dinner was at Castello Grinzane. This was the only restaurant of the trip that earned a Michelin star. The setting is inside a really old castle. The food and service was really good. I'd recommend this place for a nice meal.