A Mountain Red from Italy’s Vallée d’Aosta: La Kiuva Arnad Monjovet 2010
Good things, they say, come in small packages.
Italy’s smallest wine region, Vallée d’Aosta, presents no exception: I find gem after wine gem from this region that is neatly tucked away in Italy’s northwest corner where Europe’s highest peaks – Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and the Gran Paradiso – dominate the skyline.
Let’s pause here for a moment, just long enough for me to offer you what you can consider a New Year recommendation. No, I will not recommend you a particular bottle of wine. That would be too easy. My New Year recommendation for you is this: place the region of Vallée d’Aosta squarely on your wine radar. And then, do everything you can do to taste and explore Vallée d’Aosta wines. 2013 will be a better year for your effort
OK, we continue: With its cold winters, cool summers and ventilating winds running down from the mountaintops, the region of Vallée d’Aosta is naturally inclined to vine cultivation without obligation to entertain excessive pesticide interventions.
The DOC of Arnad Montjovet takes its name from a pair of villages in Vallée d’Aosta. In these parts, the local clone of Nebbiolo, known as Picotendro, yields small bunches of smallish, ripe grapes well-suited to the region’s climate. Able to mature well there, they confer dimensions of intense fruit and depth to the local wines.
Founded in 1975, the La Kiuva Cooperative includes approximately 60 growers working 25 or so hectares of vineyards. Near as I can tell, yearly production comes in at somewhere between 70-90K bottles. The Cooperative has a reputation of producing wines of exceptionally high quality.
La Kiuva Arnad Montjovet is produced from at least 70% Nebbiolo with the addition of other permitted local grapes including Gros Vien, Neyret, Cornalin and Fumin. Sandy soils of the area are of glacial origin. The wine is aged for eight months, two-thirds of which it spends in steel, one-third in wooden barrels, followed by an additional six months in bottle.
Tasting Notes / Impressions:
Bright cherry-red fruit with an attractively moody underside, impressions of roses, saddle leather and spice. Smooth in the mouth with fine, grippy tannins, bracing acidity, hints of citrus peel and almond on the finish. Differs from Barbaresco or Barolo in that it is lighter, fresher, yet still maintains that haunting essence of Nebbiolo.
Food Pairing Suggestions:
This is a super-talented wine at table: I wouldn’t hesitate to pair it with most meat dishes ranging from a bison burger covered with caramelized onions and melted Fontina d’Aosta to roast beef served with horseradish sauce. I would also find this wine a good partner for dishes featuring cheese or cream sauces – to be tucked away on a cold night with a good movie, authentic fondue and a bottle of La Kiuva Arnad Montjovet would not be a bad evening. The wine will also do well with rich fish entrees such as salmon with butter sauce. Vegetarians might consider marrying the wine’s “moody” side with the earthy tones of a mushroom risotto or a cheese-y root vegetable casserole.
PS – A warm thank you to a special friend for a great bottle of wine.