The 2003 Villa Giada Ajan Barbera d’Asti is one of those rare Piedmontese classics, a wine born in an excellent vintage on the slopes of some of the world’s finest terroir. When the sun, the moon, the stars, and the weather align as they did in 2003, no place on earth produces better wine than Italy’s Piedmont, and this outstanding offering from Andrea Faccio is ample testimony to that claim. Ajan is named for Agliano, a village in the heart of the Piedmont that is known for producing the region’s most intensely flavored Barbera grapes, which Andrea Faccio fashions into wines of great finesse, flavor, texture, and longevity. The richly colored 2003 Villa Giada Ajan Barbera d’Asti is one lush, plush, well-endowed Barbera. Heady with the scent of ripe fruit that is tinged with truffle, violet, and oriental spice, the 2003 Ajan delivers a litany of ripe, textured flavors that boggle the mind as well as the senses. It has been years since the tasting panel has sampled a Barbera as elegant, ripe, textured, and enjoyable as the 2003 Villa Giada Ajan. Indeed, it is hard to believe that the 2003 Ajan is only a little more than a year old, and already it speaks of great hedonistic pleasure and eminent seduction. And if one could only wait a few more years or even a mere six more months, the latent greatness and secondary and tertiary characteristics that critics commonly refer to as complexity will emerge full force from the Ajan to provide even more innumerable pleasure (hard to image), but alas there will be no more of this fine Barbera available in six months as Villa Giada’s modest production of Ajan sells out all too quickly. Therefore, we suggest allowing the 2003 Villa Giada Ajan Barbera d’Asti a little breathing time in the glass before consuming it; better yet, let it air in a decanter for as long as you can keep your hands off of it, and enjoy at cool room temperature! P.S. If you can find a couple of extra bottle to put away for a cold winter’s day, you will be more than amply rewarded – that is if Ajan’s present charms are not already too great to resist.