Posted by: tomciocco | September 21, 2014

MY OH MAYOLET!

More often than not, the old saw that says that “good things come in small packages” is true, and when it comes to Italy’s smallest region Valle d’Aosta, it’s true in spades.

To be most accurate, Valle d’Aosta is an “Italian” region rather than an “italian” one. That is to say, the valdostani (as they are called by their fellow “italians”) are ethicnically and culturally part of an Alpine Gallic culture that has little to no connection with most of the rest of the populations of the Italian peninsula.

The people of valle d’aosta are linguistically part of the “Franco-Provencal” continuum of tongues that are together sometimes referred to as “Arpitan” which are spoken in Valle d’Aosta, southwestern Switzerland, and greater Alpine France. Despite the relatively limited extension of the Arpitan language, there are literally scores of quite divergent dialects that developed and survived due to the region’s remoteness and percipitously steep and heavily forested mountain terrain.

And, at least here, what goes for language also goes for vines. Valle d’Aosta is smaller than the state of Rhode Island, but within this diminutive region there are far more authocthonous vine varieties than any similarly sized area can show for itself. In addition to the more widely grown and famous “foreign” varieties like Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir and Merlot, Valle d’Aosta boasts such exclusive endemic varieities like Neyret, Cornalin, Vien de Nus, Premette, Petite Rouge, Fumin, and the variety that is the subject of this post, Neyret, and that’s not even a complete list, and all those listed are just the red grapes; there are almost as many exclusively Valdostan white varieties too. What biological wonders can be created from extreme isolation in an extreme climate at high altitudes, eh?

In terms of what Mayolet is like in the glass on your table, it tends to a bright acidity with a very smooth tannic structure and fine and pretty flavors/aromas of Marasca cherry, purple flowers and often a softly bitter finish. Not surprisingly, nothing matches better with wines like this than the dishes native to the region, so in keeping, I paired this pretty Alpine maiden of a wine with a Savoy cabbage, Fontina valdostana cheese and bread soup followed by a classic and quite refined Valdostan stew called carbonade with soft polenta (what else?).

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Coenfer “Vin des Seigneurs” Vallee` d’Aoste Mayloet 2012

Slightly pinkish purple/garnet color. Complex nose of black raspberry, myrtle, blackberry, dry leaves, violet, dark caramel, dark spices, and minerals. In the mouth the wine is medium weight with tart and spunky acidity and softly dry tannins that reveal sweet and sour flavors of underripe red currants, black cherry, wild blueberry, black pepper, roasted walnuts, and mocha. Lightly dusty bitter almond finish.

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