The Monte Bianco Tunnel leads you into the western edge of the Valle d’Aosta by car, exiting suddenly and beautifully into the Alpine ski town of Courmayeur. The Aosta Valley, named after its principal town, cuts west to east before turning south and leading you into the Po Valley and the wines of Piedmont. The mesmerizingly rugged valley is characterized by sheer cliffs on either side—tall, majestic granite peaks more fitting for mountain goats than vines. Incredibly, a precious few hectares of terraced vines cling to the hillsides, mostly to supply the locals with their daily sustenance. The overwhelming majority of the grape farmers here take their grapes to a local cooperative, so estate-bottled wine in this neck of the woods is one of the rarest of Italian wines. Maurizio Fiorano is one of the brightest stars in the region.
“Torrette” is the regional designation referring to wines made from certain villages in the Valle d’Aosta principally from the Petit Rouge grape (70% minimum). Maurizio blends in 10% of the local Mayolet grape for extra freshness and finesse. The resulting wine has a deep and dark yet blazing bright color, as if it had been made from pressed wild berries. True to the region, it has a slightly sweet and creamy edge and exuberant, piquant fruit, both peppery and floral throughout. It is an incredibly consistent wine from Maurizio: I can’t remember a vintage that wasn’t love at first sight, thanks to his high-altitude granite terraces facing southeast and catching the rising sun. As you might expect, the local Fontina cheese makes a sublime pairing!
If the Torrette is the juicy, exuberant, easy-to-like introduction to the intimidating Aosta Valley, Cornalin is the slightly more complex, wily actor that doesn’t reveal its secrets quite as easily or quickly. Torrette welcomes you and reels you in immediately, and Cornalin keeps you intrigued. Maurizio’s 2018 is sweetly spiced and ample-bodied, with wild plums, soft tannins, and a bitter almond finish.
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