|Vien de Nus Grapes|
The other two grapes are Mayolet and Vien de Nus. Mayolet is certainly the more common of the two grapes and can occasionally be found in varietal form, while Vien de Nus is pretty much a blending grape. Mayolet is referenced in writings dating back to the 18th Century and is thought to be indigenous to the Valle d'Aosta. Recent DNA testing has shown that Mayolet is one of the parents of Cornalin du Valais (Petit Rouge is the other), which means that both Petit Rouge and Mayolet are the grandparents of Cornalin d'Aoste (Vouillamoz, J., Maigre, D., Meredith, C.P. (2003) Microsatellite analysis of ancient alpine grape cultivars: pedigree reconstruction of Vitis vinifera L. "Cornalin du Valais." Theoretical and Applied Genetics, (107) 448-454). This wine, then, is kind of like a little family reunion in a bottle where Vien de Nus plays the role of a longtime neighbor who is like an honorary uncle, even though he isn't really related by blood to anyone there. Vien de Nus also has a long history in the Valle d'Aoste and is thought to be native to the region, but if there is any genetic link between it and the other three grapes in this wine, I haven't been able to find it.
The wine that I was able to try was made by Franco Noussan who lives in the village of St. Christophe in the hills above the town of Aoste. His bio on Louis/Dressner's site says that he works at the local university, which it turns out is the Institut Agricole Régional, the local agricultural school where the Cornalin and Prëmetta I wrote about earlier came from. His winery is essentially an extension of his garage which he dug into the hillsides around his house. He has several parcels scattered around St. Christophe including one with vines over 70 years old, which is where I presume the grapes for this wine came from. Altogether he farms about 5.5 hectares of land which he works without herbicides. He hand harvests all of his grapes and uses only indigenous yeasts in his fermentation. He has been making wine for his family and friends for many years but has only been offering them commercially since 2005.
Wine Bottega for about $25. In the glass, the wine was a medium purple ruby color. The nose was very aromatic with black cherry, black plum and wild raspberry fruits with a touch of smoke. There was something wild and savage to the nose that was very interesting and deeply compelling. On the palate the wine was on the fuller side of medium with fairly high acid and medium tannins. There were flavors of black cherry, dried cherry, wild raspberry and blackberry fruit with smoke, char and a little bit of funk. It was wild and complex but really nicely balanced as well. There was a good mixture of red and black fruits with nice charred, smoky undertones to it that was all held up with a lively vein of acidity. I really felt like the wine over-delivered in terms of complexity and depth for the price, especially since wines from the Valle d'Aoste tend to be fairly expensive because of their limited production. It would go well with all kinds of food but I think something with duck or sausage would be great as the bright acidity here would just cut through the fat and match well with meat that's a little funky.