Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tasting Notes ~ Vallé D'Aoste

No matter where I go in Italy, it always seems to be a new place, a landscape that shatters the myth of what people think Italy is. In this world of ours, has Italy been distilled down to an I Love Lucy segment, or a dinner scene from an ancient Disney cartoon about lovelorn dogs? It isn't just Chianti and Pinot Grigio, meatballs and tiramisu.

I recently had an email from a reader who doesn’t see his region quite like I had characterized it. The reality is, both of us see it through different lenses. He sees it as it is for him and I see it as it is for me. Is his view more correct because he lives there? Is my Pollyanna view unrealistic because I am only there for a short time, seeing only what I want to see? Yes and no. We both perceive a reality that is displayed before our senses. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, as in time it will all be dust for the cosmos, with these words offering kindling for that effort.

With that in mind, I go rather unwillingly into the tasting notes gathered from the Vallé D'Aoste visit. Like the Valtellina notes, this only serves to offer up a sense of what it was that we encountered. In no way does it serve up a complete menu. But from this I believe, for my purposes, it painted a picture of where the wines from the Vallé D'Aoste are in relation to whatever need I perceive may exist for those in my world.

A brief word about the 2007 harvest. Winemakers seemed to be pleasantly happy for the wines. While we were there, they were just putting the finishing touches on the dry wines, and the passito grapes were being pressed into service. This will go down as a better year for the wines than for the exchange rate.

Di Barrò – overall the wines showed a high level of winemaking. Little or no intervention; grapes grown without the use of artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Grown in fairly extreme conditions, schist-like soil, high altitudes; good sun exposure, but still tendencies for extreme winemaking conditions. Wines like these are reflective of their land. Well done.

1) 2006 Chardonnay
Dusty, almonds, pine (fir)- like aroma
Clean- acidic- fresh

2) 2006 Le Plantse rosé of Pinot Grigio
Pepper-corn nose; slight vegetal aroma
Like a vin gris; reminded me of the Sanford from the 1980’s
Interesting; dry

3) 2006 Torrette (Petite Rouge grape)
Fleshy nose; ripe
Rosebud; cinnamon; medium-bodied

4) 2006 Mayolet ( tank sample)
High sulfur
Nice fruit; well- balanced
Good solid fruit
Just now the nose is a little out of joint
Cherries; nice flavors

5) 2006 Syrah
White pepper
Peppery flavor – mirto berry
Slightly bitter

6) 2005 Fumin
Deep purple color
Slight pepper (does remind me of the ’61 Chambave of Voyat)
Well-balanced; nice

7) 2005 Vigne de Torrette
Fleshy; gorgeous nose
Just a delicious red
The 2005 – classic
Rich; balanced
Not alcoholic even at 15%

8) Lo Bien Flapì ( uve stramature)
Late harvest Pinot Grigio
Good acidity. tasty and yes we always have room for another dessert wine in the rack. just will have to open the '59 D'Yquem to make space for it.

L’Atoueyo – situated in Avmayvilles, not far from the Co-op and Les Cretes. Five wines, 20,000 bottles, 1.5 hectares. My sense about this project is that it will transition to more serious wines when the winemaker gets a little more time under his belt. His work for the large co op is a good training ground, but there are some winemaking practices (especially in the aspect of maintaining cleanliness in the winemaking and wine storage areas) that need to be refined. I'm not talking about squeaky clean wines that exhibit no signs of their terroir. There is plenty of territoriality in this region, the winemakers just need to let it come through.

1) 2006 Chardonnay
Buttery nose; slight grassiness. Tropical – dusty – pineappple;apple
Full , rich flavors – very nice
Well-balance; good body

2) 2006 Gamay
Typical Gamay nose; berry, a little pine
Peppery; crème brulee ( the top part of the dessert) – nice bite
Reminds me of a Moulin a Vent, with the stewed tomato aspect.

3) 2006 Pinot Noir
Taste is sour/ not sure I like this.

4) 2006 Torrette
Sweet nose ; caramelized persimmons; slight so2
Savory entry
Light flavor

5) 2005 Fumin
Peppery nose; also so2
1/3 appassimento; dry bit not cloying

But the sulpher flavor dominated

Diego Curtaz – 10,000 bottles. Also farms the most wonderful apples and has a thriving honey and marmalade business. Heritage here is well established, just needs more time "chopping in the woodshed", as they say in the jazz business.

1) Dï Meun (Vino da Tavola)
Slightly metallic
50% Petite Rouge; 20% Vuillermin; 10% Vien de Nus; 10% Cornalin; 5% Mayolet; 5% Gamay
Pretty nose; light flavor

2) 2006 Gamay
Slightly sour/ a bit of volatile acidity
Tried 2nd bottle
Nose is closed but better than the 1st
Fruit is good
Light but flavors are OK
Nice finish a bit of stewed tomatoes

3) 2006 Torrette
75% Petite Rouge, 5% Cornalin, 5% Fumin, 5% Vien de Nus, 5% Premetta, 5% Neyret.
Again, light

Winemaking, or at least the wines as they showed on this day, was at the lowest level of the three visited this day.

Interesting though , in the exposure to grapes such as Fumin, Petite Rouge, Vuillermin; Cornalin, Vien de Nus, Premetta, Neyret and Mayolet. What struck me was that situated between France and the rest of Italy is a region that has its own trajectory. Switzerland comes to mind more than either of the other countries, in terms of the tradition of winemaking. Again, we are talking some extreme conditions.

The wines of Di Barrò impressed me most highly, but my memory of Voyat’s Chambave Rouge and Passito Bianco still override in terms of impressions for the region.


Anonymous said...

I hope more people will venture off the beaten path and go experience these wonderful wines. As always thanks for sharing a great experience.

Anonymous said...

Well, just back from a wine festival at Nus (chambave, Vienne de Nus, Malvoisie etc.) with some rather too young releases of the 2007.

Can I recommend another grower at Aymaville: young guy called Didier Gerbelle. I don't want his prices to go up as I'm only a poor English teacher, but I've enjoyed all his wines and in the spirit of wine lovers everywhere I offer you his name. Just say la signora Inglese recommended him! An unusual Gewurztraminer as well as the more typical Petite Rouge/Torrette. I don't know Curtaz but I've certainly enjoyed both the other growers you mention: I think you are right about L’Atoueyo, but I think these little spin-offs from the local co-operatives are exciting and experience can only help them improve.


Alfonso Cevola said...

thanks, Sue!

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