Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Torrette syndrome

with 4 comments

(Pardon the pun. I made it so Nick won’t have to.)

The next Prince Edward County post won’t be up for another day or two. In the meantime, here’s a note on an obscurity.

Vallée d’Aosta 2010, Torrette, Grosjean Frères ($25.55, 11660645)
The Aosta Valley is the narrow alpine corridor that connects northwest Italy to France over the St. Bernard pass and, these days, through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Torrette is one of several areas within the larger, but still small, Valle d’Aosta DOC. Torrette wines must be at least 70% Petit Rouge but may also contain Gamay, Dolcetto, Pinot Noir and/or any of several local red grape varieties. At a minimum, Torrette must reach 11% ABV and be aged six months (12% ABV and eight months in oak for Torrette Superiore). Grosjean’s version is 80% Petit Rouge and 20% Vien de Nus, Fumin and Cornalin, all from vines planted between 1975 and 1995. The grapes were destemmed, then macerated on their skins for seven or eight days, with pumping over three times a day. Maturation took place in stainless steel vats. This is stoppered with a plastic cork and clocks in at 12.5% ABV.
Odd nose: dried cherries, leaf mould and earth until you swirl, then dried blood and a hint of vinegary fish sauce. Medium bodied and dry. Not very tannic, though the understated fruit does nothing to hide the fine tannins, meaning there’s an astringent undertow that lingers long.  Light, supple, sweet cherry quickly fades to a tart, faintly bitter finish with leaf tea and dried wood notes.

Pricey for what it delivers today. Torrettes are said to improve with up to ten years of cellaring, but you wouldn’t want to test that claim when the closure is a syncork.

This goes well with charcuterie, including lightly smoked meats. The winemaker also recommends it as a pairing for Valdostan “soups,”*  a role I can see it playing supremely well.


*For example: In a baking dish, alternate layers of sliced, butter-toasted country or black bread, Savoy cabbage braised with onion, and slices of fontina cheese. Ladle meat broth over. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a little nutmeg, if you like. Bake in a medium oven until the cheese melts.

Written by carswell

July 19, 2012 at 15:21

4 Responses

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  1. You should’ve done this sooner to stop me from making the pun and then the mistake of thinking this AOC typically produces something much more mineral, direct and gulpable than this — something more like the first Torrette I tried called Les Crêtes:
    I hope it mellows over time so I don’t detect the woodiness as much, but I don’t have any more anyway.

    weingolb (@weingolb)

    July 19, 2012 at 20:02

    • Hadn’t heard you making it, unlike Nick, who couldn’t stop himself after his first encounter with Gravillas’s puntastic “Emmenez-moi au bout du Terret” (100% Terret Gris).

      I too was expecting the Torrette to be lighter, more Beaujolais-like. Have half a bottle left and will report back if extended decanting has effected any noteworthy changes. That said, my main issue with the wine is its price or rather, when excellent Mondeuses can be had for several dollars less, its QPR. At least it’s nothing like the horror show that is Castorani’s Mille Pendii from nearby Chambave.


      July 20, 2012 at 16:25

    • Polished it off last night. Forty-eight hours after being poured into a half-bottle, gassed, recorked and refrigerated, the wine had smoothed and rounded a little. The vinegar/fish sauce had all but disappeared, the fruit was more forward, the woodiness had become a background note and some dark minerals had appeared. The changes were minor – I stand by my original impressions – but maybe sufficient to convince me to buy another bottle to keep until the cool weather arrives and I can make some zuppa valdostana. The VFS, however faint, also has me wondering whether my first bottle was slightly off, a question a second bottle might answer.


      July 21, 2012 at 09:36

      • Thanks. I’d add that my bottle definitely had some umami happening too. VFS, it’s a feature, I suppose?

        weingolb (@weingolb)

        July 21, 2012 at 09:48

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