Posted by: tomciocco | February 19, 2011

WHERE ITALY SPEAKS FRENCH…

…or traditionally the Arpitan language (the tongue’s AKA of “Franco-Provencal” gives you a pretty good idea where it fits in the Romance Language puzzle). But like so many other minor languages all around the world, Arpitan is losing ground to the bigger languages that surround it, in this case French and Italian. Fortunately, on the viticultural front, Valle D’Aosta has done a spectacular job of preserving its native vine varieties, both red and white (see my previous post on Petit Rouge on July 9, 2010).

This post’s subject, unlike the earlier one, is a little gem of a white grape called Prie` Blanc which is the variety exclusively used in making what is probably Italy longest named DOC (and sub-DOC): Valle d’Aosta Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. Valle D’Aosta is an almost impossibly beautiful place, but for the vinegrower, it’s an eternal struggle. This region is cold, and many vineyards are very small, are situated at very high elevations, and almost all are very steep or terraced. Growing vines here is not easy, but as with so many endeavors, there is strength in numbers: much of Valdostano winemaking is organized into co-operatives that allow these little farm plots to survive by banding together to share in the labor and the profits. This co-op’s name is oddly but delightfully reassuring in its plainness: Cave du Vin Blanc. Simple, but it says it…and the label rocks too.

I served up an improvised “Valdostano” appetizer plate with dry salame, cornichons, pickled red peppers, and buttered black bread and plain sliced baguette. The main course was some really fresh trout I baked with schmear of butter-toasted breadcrumbs with marjoram, parsley, and chives, and boiled and mashed rutabaga with pancetta lardons.

Cave du Vin Blanc Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle 2009

Extremely pale white gold color with the barest green tint. Fresh and mildly exotic nose of citron, pear, powdered ginger, hazelnut, and toasted grain. The body is medium-light, but with a moderately viscous texture that is nonetheless clean and svelte, with tart, bright flavors of Meyer lemon, tangerine, and minerals. Finishes long but super clean with a balanced bittersweet quinine and honey  fade-out.

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Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Faber and Greg Randle, Fine Wine Academy. Fine Wine Academy said: Valle D’Aosta native varieties, in Tom Ciocco's https://tomciocco.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/where-italy-speaks-french/ […]


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