A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Prëmetta - Valle d'Aosta, Italy

Last week, we took a look at a little known grape from the Valle d'Aosta called Cornalin.  Today I'd like to look at yet another unusual grape from this region, Prëmetta.

Unlike Cornalin, there is very little information available about the Prëmetta grape.  Belfrage makes little mention of it in his book Barolo to Valpolicella, Wikipedia (the English version) has no entry on it (there is an entry in the German Wikipedia, though not in the Italian one), it is only mentioned in passing in The Oxford Companion to Wine, and it is mentioned only in its connection to rosé wine production in Bastianich and Lynch's Vino Italiano.  As mentioned in my post on Petit Rouge, another native red grape from the Valle d'Aosta, 90% of production in this cool, Alpine region, surprisingly, is red wine.  Prëmetta could be considered a borderline case, as the wines that are made from this grape tend to resemble rosé wines more so than red wines.  In fact, the grape is called rosato naturale in its native land because of the light wines made from it.

If you look closely at the picture of the grape cluster above, you can get a sense for why these wines may come out this way.  The skins aren't very dark, first of all, which means that there isn't much pigmentation available to color the wines.  Further, the skins themselves are very thin so not only is there not much pigmentation in the skins, but there isn't that much skin available for the pigmentation to leech from.  In addition to the thin, lightly colored skins, the grapes themselves tend to be large and very juicy, meaning the skin to juice ratio is very low.  Add all of these together and the result is generally a pale colored wine that is nevertheless strongly strawberryish on the nose and palate.

The grape is sometimes called Prie Rouge (actually, the VIVC indicates that Prie Rouge is in fact the correct cultivar name and Prëmetta is merely a synonym) in the Valle d'Aosta and those who are well-versed in other grapes of the region may recognize part of that name.  One of the better known white grapes from the Valle d'Aosta is called Blanc de Morgex, or Prie Blanc.  The two grapes are related, but then again, nearly all the grapes in the Valle d'Aosta (as well as some of the grapes just over the border in Switzlerand) are related to one another somehow.  There's a really cool article in the journal Vitis that shows how the various grapes in the Valle d'Aosta relate to one another that you can check out here if you're so inclined.

Science is fun, but we're really here to talk about the wine.  I was able to find a bottle of the 2006 Prëmetta from the Institut Agricole Regional at Curtis Liquors for about $20.  In the glass, the wine was a pale, brickish ruby color.  The nose was reserved with some plummy, floral scents.  On the palate, the wine was on the lighter side of medium with high acid and a touch of stringy tannin.  There were tart cherry and wild strawberry fruits with a bit of wild raspberry as well.  The wine had a steely, metallic edge to it that really stuck around on the finish.  This is a grape that is best drunk young, so it's definitely possible that my bottle was slightly past its prime, but it paired fairly well with a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.  I generally find these lighter, high acid, berryish red wines to be much more food friendly than heavier, more extracted wines which only seem to work with thick meat stews or heavily charred meats.  If you're a fan of lighter reds like Schiava then Premetta is definitely worth a shot.  If you're only into hulking blockbusters, then give this wine a wide berth.

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