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Mon Blanc NV

Producer: Les Crêtes
Region: Val d’Aosta
Appellation: Val d’Aosta
Country: Italy
Classification: DOC
Wine Type: White
Variety: Prié Blanc, Muller Thurgau, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alcohol: 12.5%
Residual Sugar: 1 g/L
Soil: Loose, sandy, moraine soil.
Farming Practices: Training method Guyot,harvested by hand in the middle of September.
Awards: 92-Michael Godel; 90-Wine Align
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Cellar Profile


In the mid 1700s, Bernardin Charrère moved from the Haute Savoie in Southeast France to the Aosta Valley and established Les Crêtes, a mill and farm in Aymavilles. This was in the middle of the 21 square mile Aosta Valley, in the heart of the wine region. In 1810, the family planted 2 hectares of vinifera grapes and the winery was born. The family still continues to craft wines from those vineyards to this day. Les Crêtes is the largest privately-owned winery in the region, but would be considered “boutique” in most other regions around the world. It has been at the forefront of searching out rare, indigenous vinifera varieties and helping protect them from extinction. Grapes like Prie Rouge, Mayolet, Cornalin, Premetta and Fumin exist nowhere else in the world and Les Crêtes, along with the rest of the tiny vignerons in the region, has worked with the Italian government to preserve them. This is one of the most challenging regions on earth to work for wine, with noncontiguous vineyards frequently planted on ledges on the side of steep Alpine mountains where they can find a little sandy soil. Hot summer days and extremely cool nights, coupled with a dry growing season allow for some of the longest hang times on earth. Les Crêtes has consistently been recognized as the finest producer in the region and a destination spot for wine lovers. Their wines are powerful, yet elegant, with their trademark salty minerality – a true representation of the terroir of the Val d’Aosta.

Region


Surrounded by the Alps, the Valle d’Aosta is home to the highest elevated vineyards in all of Europe. The region is divided into three main vineyard areas: the upper valley,Valdigne; the central valley; and the lower valley. Most vineyards in the Aosta Valley occupy the steep, south-facing slopes above the Dora Baltea river, a tributary of the Po. The dramatic topography and diminutive size of the valley mean that the area available for viticulture is limited. Much of the valley floor, with its mineral-rich, well-watered soils, is simply too fertile for quality viticulture. As a result, many of the best vineyards here are on the lower slopes, and climb steadily up the slopes to top altitudes of around 1300m above sea level.

Vineyard


Sourced from multiple vineyards throughout Aymavilles at 500-700 metres above sea level. Vines averaging 15 years of age are trained in the French Guyot method and cultivated on steep slopes comprised of morainic, loose, sandy soils which are exposed to the northeast, southeast and southwest.

Varieties


A blend of indigenous and French varietals, including Prié Blanc, Muller Thurgau and Pinot Bianco. The first record of Prié Blanc was from 1691. It is particularly cold-hardy and DNA mapping indicates it is a crossing of multiple indigenous Aosta vitis vinifera. A tiny-berried grape, it retains high acid levels even when fully ripened and is used in Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle, one of the oldest wines in the Valley. Muller Thurgau is another cool climate varietal that does extremely well at high elevation. A progeny of Riesling, it is quite low in acidity and uses minerality for balance. This aromatic grape was best known for producing oceans of mediocre-to-poor liebfraumilch in the Rheinhessen region of Germany. However, it shows great promise in high altitudes when care is taken to reduce yields and ripen skins. Pinot Blanc is the white grape mutation of Pinot Noir. It is found mostly in Germany and Northern Italy where it produces refreshing, peachy and dry wines.

Winemaking


Hand-harvested grapes from multiple estate vineyards are brought to the winery in small boxes, where they are gently pressed into stainless steel for a long, cool fermentation. Care is taken to avoid malolactic conversion to maintain freshness, but the juice spends 3 months on its lees to garner mouthfeel and complexity. Lightly fined before bottling.

Tasting Notes 


A true mountain wine, this is vivacious and fresh. Aromas of white flowers, lemon zest, melon and paraffin are light and take a good swirling in the glass to evoke. There’s a nervous tension here, with the citrus and melon notes joined by Bosc pear and a salty minerality. Chill lightly and sip as an aperitif or enjoy with seared scallops or white fish in a lemon caper beurre blanc.