Posted by: tomciocco | June 29, 2010

AN ALPINE WINE TWO FOR ONE

It’s been HOT here in New Jersey over the last few days, and due to a bit of bad planning and a bit more drinking, we found ourselves a bit short on crisp whites. Drat. I had however previously landed a few light and fairly rare Alpine reds that are more than happy to hang out in the fridge for 45 minutes before having their corks pulled, so these two beauties stood in for paler drinks…

The first of the two wines is from the eastern French Alpine region of Savoie, which borders Piedmont, Italy to the east. Most of the red wines from this region are made from a variety called Mondeuse, and this one’s no different. Some recent ampelographic work on the variety has proven that Mondeuse is a wayward clone of Friuli’s Refosco. How it got from the gravelly fields of southern Friuli to granitic Alpine France, no one’s quite sure, but stranger stories have been told…

Domaine Labbe’ Mondeuse Vin de Savoie 2008

Not too saturated rosy-rimmed, deep garnet color. Direct nose of berries, wood smoke, cloves, and dark chocolate.  The broad acidity leads the way, bringing with it smooth flavors of wild berries, cherries, pomegranate juice, and sap. The wine closes with a juiciness,  an almost marine-like minerality, and flavors of fine black tea.

The second wine goes down as one of the most exciting wines I’ve drunk over the last several months. Made by a little producer called Sandro Fay in the Valtellina (extreme northern Lombardia, near the Swiss border) this wine is made from 90% Nebbiolo (locally called Chiavennasca) with the remaining 10% Made up of Merlot and VERY local varieties Brugnola, Rossola, and Pignola, aged for 1 year in large Salvonian oak casks.

Wow. This one will not be easy to find, but it SO eloquently speaks about its terroir, as well as the taste and skill of the hands that made it, you need to make a fair attempt to track it down.  And it’s downright CHEAP too. I don’t know how signor Fay does it, but I’m really glad he does.  THIS is REAL wine!

Sandro Fay Rosso di Valtellina 2008

Slightly browned nearly transparent blackish purple color. Very seductive nose of dried roses and violets, toasted biscuit, raspberry, and Ethiopian coffee. The medium-light bodied  palate is beautifully balanced and very elegant, with pure strawberry and cherry skin fruit flavors, and clean notes of toasted walnuts and wood spice. Finishes with a notably long and fine finish.

TOM CIOCCO

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