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La Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir, “Les Gosses” RossoVallée d’Aoste, Italy 2018 (750mL)

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La Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir, “Les Gosses” Rosso Vallée d’Aoste, Italy 2018 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

Imagine if your next-door neighbor grew grapes in his backyard, made exceptional wine from it in his garage, and brought a few bottles to you to enjoy. Depending on where you live, you may indeed have a neighbor like that, but for the rest of us, there’s Nadir Cuneaz.


Granted, he’s all the way up in the northwest corner of Italy, in the mountainous Valle d’Aosta, tending to less than a hectare of vines and producing wines in his basement. But, thanks to the efforts of an importer who values authenticity as much as commerce, we have access to some of the 60 cases of “Les Gosses” produced IN TOTAL in 2018. It’s unreal. The wine, crafted from a blend of Valle d’Aosta grape varieties most wine lovers have never heard of, is a sublimely aromatic Alpine red loaded with energy, minerality, and tangy wild-berry fruit, and while it may be a “garage wine,” it’s important to remember where that garage is located. Cuneaz’s assorted vineyard parcels, each the size of a backyard garden plot, sit along the Dora Baltea in the shadow of the Swiss Alps, rooted in sandy, rocky soils. Dramatic day-night temperature swings provide a long, cool growing season for well-adapted local varieties like Vien de Nus, Petit Rouge, and Vuillermin, and the result is one of the most lively, unique, captivating mountain reds any of us could hope to try. I expect this will disappear in an instant, as it should.



This is the first time we’ve gotten our hands on “Les Gosses,” as it is produced in even smaller quantities than Cuneaz’s mesmerizing Pinot Noir, “Grandgosier,” which we’ve offered in the past. At one time, Nadir made wines just for friends and family, but he began producing “commercial” bottlings in 2009, at the urging of some of those friends—including fellow Valle d’Aosta winemaker Danilo Thomain, who introduced him to his importer, Rosenthal Wine Merchant. Most of the Cuneaz family vineyards are in the town of Gressan, some of them planted more than 100 years ago; “Les Gosses,” derived from a French term for “little children,” is Cuneaz’s love letter to the varieties so unique to this part of the world. It is mostly Vien de Nus, with smaller amounts of Petit Rouge and Vuillermin providing the balance—and all of them among the many native grape varieties that would likely be extinct were it not for small growers like Cuneaz.


When you encounter wines from the Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste, you’re experiencing a (viti)cultural convergence of French, Italian, and Swiss wine traditions. French (and a local patois that skews heavily French) is the main language here, and as such the labels on bottles can get confusing—typically you’ll see both Italian and French used simultaneously, much as it is on street signs, etc. in the region. The vineyards, some of which are among the highest elevation in Europe, occupy often-steep terraces and slopes along the Dora Baltea River, which eventually runs down into neighboring Piedmont, where it hooks up with the Pò. Although there’s ample water in the form of mountain runoff (surging through Roman-era aqueducts that slice up the hills), Mont Blanc provides a “rain shadow” effect not unlike the one Alsace sees from the nearby Vosges range. Summers here are drier and warmer than you might expect, although the diurnal swings (daytime heat spikes followed by cool nights) are extreme.


Sourced from an assortment of south-facing parcels and vinified/aged in stainless steel, the 2018 “Les Gosses” is mountain-meadow fresh, aromatic, and luminous. It’s a medium ruby at its core, moving to pink at the rim, with lifted aromas of red currant, black and red cherry, plum skin, loose tea, black pepper, red and purple flowers, wet stones, and a faint hint of smoke. It is lightweight, electric, and takes well to a chill, which tames some of the acidity and brings the tangy berry fruit forward. The tension is such that a 30-minute decant is recommended, along with something to pair with it—as delicious as it will be on its own, this wine’s true colors will show when paired with food. Serve it in Burgundy stems at 55-60 degrees with the kind of rustic local dish you might eat while skiing at Courmayeur or Chamonix. Absolute perfection, in my book. Enjoy!




La Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir, “Les Gosses” Rosso Vallée d’Aoste, Italy 2018 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionVallée d’Aoste
  • Sub-RegionTorrette
  • SoilSand & Decomposed Granite
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendVien de Nus, Petit Rouge, Vuillermin
  • Alcohol13%
  • OakNone

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionVallée d’Aoste
  • Sub-RegionTorrette
  • SoilSand & Decomposed Granite
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendVien de Nus, Petit Rouge, Vuillermin
  • Alcohol13%
  • OakNone
  • Production54 cases
  • Temp.Serve at 55-60° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2023
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingPolenta w/ Sausage Ragù