• Vallée d'Aoste Biodynamic Superstar:  2016 Grosjean

    Vallée d'Aoste Biodynamic Superstar: 2016 Grosjean

    The Grosjean family has been farming their vineyards in the mountains of Italy's Valle D'Aoste for generations, but it wasn't until 1969 that they were recognized at a local expo and the wines began to be exported. Importer Neal Rosenthal is dialed into the alpine vineyards throughout northern Italy like no one else. His portfolio is so diverse with talents like Jean-Marie Fourrier, Jacques Carillon, and Montevertine, but it's these smaller, more modestly priced producers from esoteric regions that define the brilliance of his band of vignerons.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Grosjean Torrette and Petite Arvine for $25 and $28 per bottle, respectively.

    As far as Italian alpine reds and whites go, there's very little competition in this realm of organic and biodynamic estates. The village of Fornet in the Valle D'Aoste sits in the shadow of the towering Mont Blanc. As you can imagine, the high altitude conditions provide a snap and clarity to the wines here, with signature cool, herbal and mint notes.

    Torrette is sourced from the Rovettaz vineyard comprised largely of sandy-clay soils. The native variety Petit Rouge makes up 80% of the blend, with Vien de Nus, Doucet, Fumin, and Mayolet. The wine is aged in stainless steel preserving the bright and fresh fruit personality. Black raspberry, red licorice, and wild herbs all meld together here to craft an absolutely delicious wine completely reflective of its unique place. 

    Petite Arvine, the local white variety, is sourced from the Rovettaz vineyard situated at 700 meters above sea level. Ripe peach and fennel notes are met with a salty, alpine-influenced finish that also harnesses some of that mystical mint profile that's also evident in the Torrette.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • 2016 Savoie Fresh Streak:    Domaine des Ardoisières Schiste & Argile

    2016 Savoie Fresh Streak: Domaine des Ardoisières Schiste & Argile

    Over the last few years I've found myself reaching more and more for new cool climate French wines, and the summer is no exception. The one region that has captured my attention the very most is the Savoie, located just along the Swiss border in view of Mont Blanc. Although history is as steep as the slopes here, it's a younger domaine that's arguably making the most exciting wines. When I'm craving those cool alpine inflections and mineral spring purity in both whites and reds, it's Domaine des Ardoisières I turn to. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the two wines from Ardoisières that bring the greatest thrills and the most electric mineral intensity, the Schiste Blanc and Argile Rouge. 

    Ardoisières works with two sites in the Savoie, 
    Cevins and St. Pierre de Soucy, both farmed biodynamically since its 1998 founding. Although, these same vineyards had been planted back in Roman times, but had become taken over by forests as the region fell into obscurity. A group had cleared these forests in the late 1990's for replanting, and then in 2005 Champagne native, Brice Omont took the lead on winemaking. This small-production estate has become the darling of the Savoie, and has been a champion in making the case for the region's great potential. 

    Ardoisières' most mineral-driven and age-worthy white, Schiste, is comprised of
     40% Jacquere with 30% Roussanne, 20% Pinot Gris, and 10% Mondeuse Blanche. These decomposed granite soils in Cevins give a racy personality with a pulverized rocky core that make it one of my favorite crisp whites in all of France. There's a yellow stone fruit quality that's backed up by a laser-like mineral precision that brings superb freshness. On a steamy Bordeaux night last month I stumbled onto a killer wine bar and it took me about 10 seconds to make this selection from a sea of gems. In all, that first glass may have been the single most satisfying one through my three week tour. 

    The top red of the domaine, Argile, is comprised of 80% Gamay and 20% Persan coming from the clay-dominant soils of 
    St. Pierre de Soucy. As compared to the Gamay we're all more accustomed to from Beaujolais, this Savoie rendition has a lighter body and more pepper tones with a super pronounced mineral finish. The fruit profile is more in the red raspberry realm vs. those plush grape-ey traits from Beaujolais. And the finish lingers with a brisk mineral flicker that's lip-smacking good!
    Posted by Alexander Rosen