Intriguing sweet spices interspersed with forest berries and a granite crunch like you’d expect from a good Côte de Brouilly all come together to offer a mouthwatering and singular experience.
If Maurizio Fiorano became a vineyard owner by chance, he was lucky in the placement of his plots—he will humbly tell you that it’s not hard to make good wine here. The vines sit in shallow sandy soil, but their feet wriggle into crevices in the solid granite bedrock. The vineyards are planted on an ancient riverbed, where the Dora Baltea River cut through, creating the current river valley and leaving behind mineral deposits that the wines happily lap up. The trump card, however, may be high altitude and diurnal temperature shifts providing long hours of gentle sunlight. This gives the grapes a long, slow ripening season that in turn offers red wines with the heft of a sunny climate that are still refreshing and light.If Maurizio became a vineyard owner by chance, he was exceedingly lucky in the placement of his plots—he will humbly tell you that it’s not hard to make good wine here. The vines sit in a very shallow sandy soil, but their feet wriggle into crevices in the solid granite bedrock. Any rain is quickly dried out by cleansing winds. And the vineyards are planted on an ancient riverbed, where over the millennia the Dora Baltea River has cut through the mountain, creating the current river valley and leaving behind mineral deposits that the wines happily lap up. The trump card, however, may be the exposition of the vineyards, which in combination with the chilly climate, high altitude, and drastic diurnal temperature shifts provides the magic charm sought by vignerons everywhere: extremely long hours of gentle sunlight. In fact, the vineyards here capture the sun so perfectly that the almond trees scattered over the slope blossom at the same time as those in Sicily, over 550 miles farther south! This gives the grapes an exceptionally long, slow ripening season that in turn offers very unusual red wines with the heft of a sunny climate that are still refreshing and light on their feet, as you might expect of a northern wine.
Claiming an impressive list of autochthonous varieties, Valle d'Aosta is a long, narrow valley, formed by Italy’s extreme northwestern Alps. The region, a natural gateway between Italy and France, is also home to many grape migrants from France and its more southerly Italian neighbors. Not surprisingly, wine labels are often written in Italian and French.
The main whites here include: Petite Arvine and Prié blanc (Blanc de Morgex). For reds: Fumin, Cornalin, Mayolet, Petit Rouge, Premetta, Vuillermin, Neblou, and Vien de Nus are unique to the region. French ones that do well are Gamay noir, Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot gris (confusingly called Malvoisie in Aosta but it is not related to Malvasia). Italian grapes common here include Moscato, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, and from farther away, Ciliegiolo.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended red wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged resulting in a wide variety of red wine styles. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a red wine blend variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.
How to Serve Red Wine
A common piece of advice is to serve red wine at “room temperature,” but this suggestion is imprecise. After all, room temperature in January is likely to be quite different than in August, even considering the possible effect of central heating and air conditioning systems. The proper temperature to aim for is 55° F to 60° F for lighter-bodied reds and 60° F to 65° F for fuller-bodied wines.
How Long Does Red Wine Last?
Once opened and re-corked, a bottle stored in a cool, dark environment (like your fridge) will stay fresh and nicely drinkable for a day or two. There are products available that can extend that period by a couple of days. As for unopened bottles, optimal storage means keeping them on their sides in a moderately humid environment at about 57° F. Red wines stored in this manner will stay good – and possibly improve – for anywhere from one year to multiple decades. Assessing how long to hold on to a bottle is a complicated science. If you are planning long-term storage of your reds, seek the advice of a wine professional.