Posted by: tomciocco | July 9, 2010

PETIT ROUGE – A BIG BOTTLE OF SMILES FROM ITALY’S SMALLEST REGION

Tucked above Piedmont, next to France and below Switzerland is the tiny Italian alpine region of Valle d’Aosta. And indeed “Italian” with a capital “I” is what it is, because it’s decidedly not “italian”. What I mean to say is that Valle d’Aosta only came to be part of Italy at the time of full unification (1861) via Savoy and The Kingdom of Sardinia, but its culture is historically Franco-Provencal, and its regional language is called Arpitan. And like so many isolated wine regions this little corner of the western Alps is a unique garden of vine varieties that grown nowhere else, and the VERY seductive Petit Rouge is one of them.

Taking my usual regional approach, I dug up and threw down a Valdotain pasta dish: egg tagliatelle with Bay Boletus ‘shrooms, shallots, cream, marsala, and chopped walnuts, and for the main course, my take on costolette alla valdostana (breaded and fried veal [I used beef sirloin] cutlets with ham and real Fontina Valdostana). Some nice little turnips caught my eye at the market, so I braised them with some tomatoes I had, and coarsely mashed them.

Now, really good wine always goes better with food than mediocre, and keeping it “all in the region” always ups your chances for oeno-culinary kismet, but this was one hell of a great grouping if I do say so myself. Try to find this really cool, honest wine.

Cave di Barro` Petit Rouge Vallee d’Aoste 2008

Very deep and saturated purple color with a dark rosy rim. Clean, deep aromas of blackberry, briar wood, dried red flowers, cardamom, ground beef, and a slight, wafting “perfume” aroma. The entry on the palate brings an etched, muscular acidity,  a fairly dense and intense core of fruit, and a very appealing velvety texture, carrying, chewy, three dimensional flavors of  plum and black cherry jam and currants. The finish is clean and warm. A mildly exotic, elegantly rustic wine. Really good stuff.

TOM CIOCCO

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