We all know Barolo, Brunello, and Chianti, and while I love those wines, I have always been most excited about small production, unique winemakers and lesser-known regions, which makes the Donnas Vallee d’Aosta 2010 Rosso a perfect wine for my first Go-To-Wine Tuesday blog post.
Vallee d’Aosta is actually the smallest wine-producing region in Italy, but it was also the first in the area to attain DOC status in 1971. This incredible region, which features vineyards holding tightly to the slopes of the southern Alps, primarily grows Italian grapes Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Moscato, and French grapes Pinot Noir, Gamay, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, though there are also many grape varieties that are uniquely indigenous to the region.
Produced by the Caves Cooperative, a group of local producers who combine grape harvests, the Donnas Vallee d’Aosta Rosso is 85% Nebbiolo (or Picotendro, as the locals call it) and 15% local varieties Freisa and Neyret. It’s a rustic wine but it’s not without its silky side. Featuring cherries, strawberries and rose petal, this wine also offers bright acidity due to the cooler, high-altitude vineyard site, and that means this rosso is enjoyable even in these dog days of summer.
Priced at under $25, this Rosso would be a fantastic pairing with Capriolo alla valdostana, a dish traditional to Vallee d’Aosta that’s venison stewed in red wine with vegetables, herbs, grappa and cream. Alternatively, a paring this wine with Pappardelle with Venetian Duck Ragu would be equally fantastic.
I find that Barolo and Burgundy lovers often go hand in hand. Both regions focus on a single grape (Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir respectively), for the winemakers of the region feel that these grapes provide the best canvas for the expression of their terroir. Additionally, both Barolos and Burgundies are often difficult to approach in their youth and require time before their striking beauty and elegance can truly be appreciated. Over time, they are some of the finest wines on the planet. In my last post, I focused on the exceptional wines of Giacomo Conterno, an iconic maker of Barolo. Today I wish to show you a couple of wines from Jean Grivot, who crafts some of the finest juice made in all of Burgundy.
The home to the revered Domaine Romanée-Conti, the village of Vosne-Romanée carries with it a mystique with Burgundy lovers. No slouch, Domaine Jean Grivot also makes some of the finest wine in all the land, and Etienne Grivot described 2012 as “one of the best [vintages] that I have ever made.” Thanks to the ’12 vintage, which produced rich and dense wines, this VR Village wine is a mouthful as it coats your palate with fresh fruit and a good dose of tannins. Drink 2017 to 2025.
The 1er Cru Les Chaumes touches the legendary Grand Cru La Tache vineyard at one of its corners and makes some fabulous wine. On the whole, the wines made from Les Chaumes are a less intense and more elegant than powerful; however, Grivot owns some of the finest plots in the entire vineyard (the area is just under 16 acres) and also makes arguably the finest wines from this plot. The nose and palate of this Les Chaumes are chock full of plum and spice, and in this dense vintage, the wine is wonderfully textured and rounded. Drink 2018 to 2035.
As much as I adore a big, heady, complicated bottle of Barolo, Brunello or Amarone, some summer days and some velvet summer nights call for bottles that are easy, lively, delicious and uncomplicated. Every summer I spend some time out on Fire Island, where I live by different rhythms than those I live by in the city. Instead of the trains, the nightlife, the internet and the iPhone, I live by the beach, the tides, the grill, and the deck.
The little community where I stay is extremely quiet—for example, there are no cars. We get everywhere by bicycle, and we pull our groceries and our luggage by little red wagon. It seems out of place to drink big wines here (though I’ve certainly enjoyed bottles of Sammarco, Il Palazzone, and Quintarelli on special occasions). For my most recent trip out here, I shipped seven bottles of delicious wines: four reds , one white, one amber and one rosé.
For the reds, I chose a Rosso di Montalcino from of my all-time favorite Montalcino producers, Baricci; San Giuliano’s beguiling Barbaresco; Le Macchiole’s seductive Bolgheri Rosso; and Aldo Conterno’s exuberant Barbera d’Alba. I wanted food-friendly favorites that would pair with grilled meat and fish, and I think I did really well. They were each distinctive and each delicious. But as much as I like reds, I was more excited for the other wines.
The white was Ferrando La Torrazza Erbaluce di Caluso, and it was a delicate, honeyed, mineral beauty. Really, I can’t say enough good things about this under $20 wine. The rosato was a splurge, as was the amber wine. The former was Raffaele Palma Salicerchi, and this deeply sanguine, powerful rosato floored my friends. Finally, I brought a bottle of Josko Gravner’s 2005 Ribolla Anfora. What can I say? Gravner makes my very favorite wine, and this is like drinking textured velvet. One of my friends turned 40, and the Gravner felt like a fitting marker to her birthday. It was a lovely few days, made all the better for great wines to share with great friends.
In Burgundy, the Côte d’Or stands above all other regions. The site of the most renowned red and white Burgundies, the Côte d’Or is divided into a north, Côte de Nuits, and south, Côte de Beaune. The wines produced from these two regions are distinctly different in character, with the Côte de Beaune being famous for white Burgundy in particular. In general, the reds from the Cote de Nuits tend to be more structured and powerful, while the reds from the Côte de Beaune tend to be a bit more expressive in fruit character. This is, however, a generalization because in the world of Burgundy, there are always exceptions to the rules. There are plenty of red Burgundies from the Côte de Beaune that rival those from the Côte de Nuits in structure, power, and detail.
One of the most famous red Burgundy villages in the Côte de Beaune is Volnay; it’s where arguably the most desirable reds from the Côte de Beaune derive. While there are no grand cru vineyards within this appellation, the top premier cru vineyards yield wines that can go head-to-head against some of the best grand crus out there. Historically, the reds of Volnay were light and delicate, but the today’s Volnays come in a wide variety of styles.
My focus today is on one of the leading domaines in Volnay, Domaine Marquis d’Angerville. Any serious Volnay enthusiast, or Burgundy enthusiast in general, recognizes the name Marquis d’Angerville. Along with Henri Gouges and Armand Rousseau, the late Jacques d’Angerville was a pioneer of the Burgundy wine movement during the early 1900’s. Today, the estate’s philosophy revolves around minimalism, and Marquis d’Angerville relies on its biodynamic viticultural practices, amazing vineyard sites, and old vines to produce wines of profound character.
While Marquis d’Angerville is known for its reds, the domaine also owns a small vineyard parcel in Santenots within the village of Meursault from which they produce an outstanding white Burgund. Meursault is one of the top white Burgundy appellations, and when a domaine like Marquis d’Angerville is involved, the results are undoubtedly terrific. The 2009 vintage was a great one for both red and white Burgundy, and this is an example of what producers achieved that year. Notes of peach, pear, and minerals carry through on the nose and palate, with a nice, rich mouth-feel that will please now and through the end of the decade.
2005 and 2010 were the two best vintages of the decade for red Burgundy, and the reds from the Champans vineyard are quintessentially Volnay. Marquis d’Angerville produces an example that is full-bodied, possessing notes of red-berry fruit, flowers, earth, and minerals. Given the strength of the vintage, this is a bottling that has significant power and complexity on the palate, and this wine will require time in the cellar in order to reward optimal drinking pleasure.
This week we welcomed a new contributor, Stephane Menard, to the blog. His first post was both a go-to-wine Tuesday piece on a delicious Barone Pizzini Franciacorta and a bonus recipe for sauté di vongole, an easy clam appetizer. We closed the week with Garrett Kowalsky’s gustatory tour of Italy; don’t miss his delicious pictures, but bring a napkin. There will be drool. Sandwiched in between was Emery Long’s visual tour of our western outpost, IWM Aspen. It’s a Rocky Mountain high wine shop, and we invite you to stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.
Speaking of Aspen, Francesco Vigorito, who directs our Colorado operations, hearkened back to 1996 for his two expert picks this week; if you’re a fan of vintage Barolo, you don’t want to miss his post. David Gwo looked off the beaten path for his two picks from Campania; these two southern Italian wines are special–and they’re affordable luxuries. Michael Adler sung the praises of Sangiovese and embodied this iconic grape in two Super-Tuscan wines from the beating heart of Chianti. And Crystal Edgar urged you to consider white Rhône wines, selecting a pair from Château Beaucastel. (Spoiler alert: she likes how they complement food.)
Here’s to you, what’s on your plate and what’s in your glass. And, of course, to those people you’re sharing it with! Cheers!
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