Magic Mountain: Wine on a Wire
Anselmet's Affordable Valle d'Aosta Masterpieces
2008 Petit Rouge - 2007 Torrette
Directions: Combine 1 part Cru Beaujolais with 1 part Pinot Noir. Add dash of Cornas (Cote-Rotie will also do) and pinch of minerals. Mix well and serve w/ a rush of brisk Alpine morning air.
Now you're getting a sense of these wines!
If flat fertile valleys produce the lauded and aggressive alpha male "big dogs" of the wine world, mountain wines have a unique character. Like the vertical, thin-air landscapes from which they come, mountain wines are more flower than fruit, more mineral than earth. Where the flatlanders have girth and size, mountain wines are nimble, tense. They are - god bless 'em - muscle, tendon, vital organs and little else.
For the curious, for the value seeker, for the palate in search of a wine with that rare combination of personality and deliciousness without the "big dog" tariff - mountain wines are very interesting indeed.
Anselmet is one of the best I've come across and I *highly* recommended that you give both a try.
It should also be said that despite Anselmet's small production and mountain-top haunts, these wines have not escaped the critic's attention. The Wine Advocate's Italian guru Antonio Galloni was "very impressed" with Anselmet's efforts. And in one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction moments, Anselmet's Chardonnay is actually a perennial Tre Bicchieri winner (Italy's most prestigious wine award).
For those of you not yet familiar with the indigenous mountain grapes "Petit Rouge" and "Torrette", some introduction is necessary. Anselmet’s Petit Rouge has a Beaujolais-like charm - vivid, pure fruit with thin layers of spice and mineral. There is more though; a breadth of flavor that is uncommon: Bass notes of smoke and meat are overwhelmed by soaring violets, red cranberry, cinnamon and a mineral spine of brisk mountain acidity. This is an amazing food wine.
The Torrette - a DOC wine comprised of mostly Petit Rouge, though other grapes are added as well - is more serious yet more elegant, especially Anselmet's take which is downright Burgundian.Chambolle-Musigny at nearly 4,000 feet. This is one of the most agile wines I’ve ever encountered. Beguiling strawberry perfume, fresh mountain herbs, red fruits and a hint of nasturtium flowers. This wine is ripe, yes, but mountain ripe; brisk, snappy, full of vigor and absolutely crystal (crystal) clear.
Both wines exhibit breathtaking clarity and focus. Things are just different in the mountains. Click here for a short history of food, grapes and wine in the Valle d'Aosta
Finding these wines was a happy accident - I was hardly seeking them out. I first had these indigenous reds in the shadows of Mt. Blanc on vacation, picnicking with a bounty of the Valle d’Aosta’s wonderful cured meats and famous Fontina cheese in the region’s breathtaking Gran Paradiso national park. On my return to the USA, I couldn't get the wines out of my mind, so I tracked them down and cracked them open at a staff tasting to see if the mountain air had gone to my head. It hadn't. They were nearly everyone's wine of the night.
Anselmet became an unlikely star at Crush; his bottles began to fly off the shelves with customers coming back for multiple refills.
Well, sort of. Anselmet only allocated five cases to New York and we quickly burned through the state's supply, leaving a hole where the wine was and sales people struggling for alternatives.
It's been about a year and we've finally secured another parcel - at a discount of nearly 30%.
A bit more should be said about these incredible mountain vineyards. Anselmet’s vines are planted on Valle d’Aosta’s poor rocky soils. Look up or look down, it's all the same - the soil here is the mountain itself, slowly eroding, one rock at a time. Both vines and people are rare in this northeastern Italian region that is dominated by one of the most beautiful and majestic parks anywhere, the Gran Paradiso. Viticulture on the steep mountainsides takes place at altitudes of 600-1,200 meters. Working these vineyards is labor intensive and based more on tradition and bravery than good economic sense. (Check out the picture above to get a sense of how backbreaking working in these vineyards is.)
The Anselmet family is at the top of the mountain, both literally and figuratively, making wines in spite of the difficulty. They deserve our respect and the wines demand your attention and will gain your affection. These are not difficult wines to understand - they are soaring, nimble, incredible food-friendly wines that have earned the respected praise: "gouleyant" and GULPABLE! Drink all fall and winter and into the spring; if you have an interest in cellaring the Petit Rouge likely has another 3-5 years ahead of it and figure a bit more, maybe 5-7 years for the Torrette, which I think offers excellent potential for evolution.
To place your order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (212) 980-9463.
Crush Wine & Spirits
2008 Petit Rouge
Compare at $32.95
2007 Torrette Superior
Exceptionally rare; compare at would be approximately $42.99
Anselmet Valle d’Aosta Exploration 3-Pack
2 x 2008 Petit Rouge
1 x 2007 Torrette Superior
Wine is IN STOCK!
Net / No further Discount