If you're looking for a wine that's not everyday, one that resides well off the beaten path, one that provides some exceptional pleasures from a grape you may never have known existed...then I have a wine for you.
Les Cretes Petite Arvine Blanc Vigne Champorette 2006 is from the tiny wine producing region of Val d'Aosta...or Vallee d'Aoste, they are officially bilingual here with Italian and French---waaay up in the northwest corner of Italy, tucked away in the Alps within sight of Mont Blanc.
This mountainous alpine zone doesn't produce much wine, and what it does produce is primarily consumed locally. There's little land allocated to vineyards, farming in this cold climate is tough, and most of the growers are more hobbyist or traditional.
The people at Les Cretes, however, are very serious about what they do, and they do it exceptionally well. The Les Cretes Chardonnay is considered, and rightly so, one of the premier Chardonnays coming out of Italy. But I am an absolute sucker for the Petite Arvine.
The rather bold yellow/gold color is impressive, and it conveys very well the variegated pungent aromatic attack of the wine when it first hits your nose, with a waxy floral scent followed by some intense citrus fruit, then boring in with tart apple, quince, pineapple, mango and preserved lemons.
All of this follows through right into the flavors in a very complex mouthful, all wrapped in solid acidity to give the wine body and structure. Les Cretes Petite Arvine is a white wine that I expect will age gracefully for several years, showing ever more complex and intriguing aspects as it does so.
This is one of those mouth-watering, saliva-starting, make-me-hungry wines that would be powerful and vigorous enough to stand up to meats and mustard sauces, but I instantly thought of what a truly wonderful companion this could be for a mixed seafood boil, with lots of shellfish and crustaceans. A perfect seafood wine from the Italian/French Alps. Who knew?
So if you're looking for something unusual, something out of the ordinary, look no further and give this lovely Petite Arvine from northern Italy a go. And start looking for some seafood right now. A little Dungeness, definitely some prawns, rock lobster/langostinos, maybe some Manilas, a few handfuls of mussels...