DECEMBER THIRST CLUB – BOUQETIN VALLEE D'AOSTA GAMAY 2016
Italy’s alpine Aosta Valley represents the crossroads between French and Italian culture, cuisine, and winegrowing. You’re just as likely to find French on wine labels here as you are Italian, and the cuisine can be more reminiscent of Alpine French fare than that which we in the US tend to associate with Italy. Sandwiched in the shadows of Mont Blanc between Switzerland and France, the region boasts the highest altitude vineyard sites in all of Europe, making this a truly difficult region to tend the vine. There’s a reason it’s the smallest production viticultural region in all of Italy. Yet, because of tradition, many persist in delivering some of Italy’s most unique and characterful wines from this alpine corner.
With many classic Gamay markers like snappy red fruits, considerable minerality, and notes of rose, pepper, and citrus, this bottling from Bouquetin makes it clear on the palate that it is no Beaujolais. With a distinct earthiness and tannic structure that reminds me quite a bit of the wines of Piedmont, this wine is something to explore. Expect notes of cranberry and tart cherry complemented with herbal tones of black peppers, lavender, and violet. It is best drunk cool, served with richer fare like our recipe for Farro and Roasted Carrot Salad with whipped ricotta.
This Italian Gamay (a real rarity!) is sourced from 25 year old vines planted at nearly 2,500 feet in altitude. The soils here are alluvial with glacial deposits. In the cellar, as in many cellars in the Beaujolais, this Gamay is aged exclusively in tank, preserving freshness and verve. This light-bodied red may seem out of place in Italy, however its acidity makes it ideal for the region’s rich cuisine, perhaps explaining the persistence of Gamay in the Val d’Aosta.