Nadir Cunéaz

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Our travels in the Vallée d’Aoste have led us to several small and unexpected gems, the newest of which is the Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir. We were introduced to the young Nadir Cuneaz by Danilo Thomain in Arvier, whose Enfer d’Arvier has been a wonderful addition to our book. The Cuneaz family has a mere 0.5 hectares near the town of Gressan, reflecting a local mix of grape varieties, some of which were planted over 100 years ago. The ‘cellar’ is one of the rooms in their home, where a few small cuves and two barrels reside, and three wines are produced. We are fortunate to be able to import around 50 cases of the “Badebec”, of which less than a hundred cases are produced from two small parcels.

Although the wine qualifies for the Torrette DOC, the locals feel that too many poor examples pass for this appellation, thus they have chosen to retain the Rosso Vallée d’Aoste designation. The wine is also unusual in that the fruit from the earlier ripening parcel is allowed to dry for two weeks after harvest, creating passito grapes, which result in roughly 2g of residual sugar in the final wine. The grapes are combined and vinified together, after which they spend a year in barrel prior to bottling. The name “Badabec” comes from the mythical monster that is said to roam the forests above Gressan and occasionally feast on misbehaving children in the village!

Badebec-label Badebec Rosso Vallée d’Aoste: Composed of 90% Petit Rouge with small amounts of Fumin and Vien de Nus, the wine hints at the passito element, with rich, ripe fruit and alcohol around 14%. There are dark, sweet notes of blackberry, complemented with alpine notes that reflect the position of the vineyards. A unique wine that we are very pleased to be able to offer, if only in miniscule quantities.
“Grandgosier” Pinot Nero Vallée d’Aoste: Moody Pinot Noir, as we know, speaks most floridly in areas where it’s forced to struggle. Appropriately, the variety has been planted here since the late-18th century, benefitting greatly from the dramatic diurnal temperature shift and extended ripening cycle of these cool Alpine climes. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in used small French oak barrels, Nadir’s “Grandgosier shows gorgeous varietal character in its pure, taut, pretty red fruits and whiff of underbrush. It’s a far cry from being a rich wine, but there’s a certain succulence at its core that offsets the high-toned acidity and gently herbal edge in appetizing fashion. Sourced primarily from the family’s traditional holdings in Gressan and Jovencan, this 2016 also contains the fruit from a small newer planting in the fabled town of Chambave, on the north bank of the Dora Baltea. Known as “Badeun,” this south-facing vineyard contributes welcome ripeness to the final product, and this is a lovely, spice-drenched Pinot Noir of tremendous character.
“Les Gosses” Rosso Vallée d’Aoste: The only one of Cuneaz’s wines not named for a local monster, “Les Gosses” derives from a French term for “little children” (monsters in their own right, to be sure!)—of which Nadir has three. Coincidentally, this wine contains three local varieties: Vien de Nus (which comprises the majority), Petit Rouge, and the little-seen Vuillermin—the father of Fumin, in fact. In contrast to the two wines above, “Les Gosses” comes entirely from south-facing vineyards: “Badeun” in Chambave and “Creta Platta” (a newer acquisition for Nadir), both of which are more sun-blessed and lower on the slope than those sites which comprise “Badebec.” Made entirely in steel, this is a classic Vallée d’Aoste lip-smacker, stuffed with juicy black cherries and crunchy plums. With electrifying acidity and a complexity-contributing edge of woodsmoke, this is perhaps the most delicious and complete wine Nadir has ever made; it’s too bad there are only 60 cases to go around!

“Vin des Géants” Vallée d’Aoste: “Vin des Géants” (“Wine of the Giants,” after François Rabelais) is produced in truly minuscule quantities and bottled in magnum only—around 200 bottles per vintage. Hailing from the vineyard Envers on the cooler-exposed south bank of the Dora Baltea, it comprises one-third each Neyret, Crovassa, and Petit Rouge, with vines averaging 50 years of age. Nadir employs a submerged-cap fermentation in a small terracotta jar for around 60 days, until malolactic fermentation has completed, and the wine spends a year in a single used 300-liter barrel before bottling. “Vin des Géants” is both brooding and energetic, its deep black fruits evoking the depths of the mountain forests while its bristling acidity contributes remarkable liveliness. Nadir’s lengthy but hands-off style of fermentation manifests in a highly concentrated yet silky texture, and the fruit is tight-grained and elongated rather than round and blowsy

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Mountainous, Magical, Microscopic New Releases from Nadir Cuneaz

We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have always relished working with small producers, and we have grown our portfolio over the years by continuing to forge alliances with people who work their land on an intimate, human scale. Read More

New Releases from Nadir Cuneaz:

Mountainous, Magical, Microscopic

We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have always relished working with small producers. Over the years, we have grown our portfolio not through assimilating big brands, but by continuing to forge alliances with people who work their land on an intimate, human scale.

Working the high mountain passes of the Valle d’Aosta

It’s thrilling to work the high passes of the Valle d’Aosta searching for wines in places that are home to the chamois and mountain goat as much as they prove to be fertile ground for a fascinating array of local grape varieties.  Our love affair with this area started 35 years ago in January 1980 when we first

Badebec – Our Newest Addition to the Portfolio

Standing in the kitchen as we prepare dinner and taste the first bottle of “Badebec”, a Rosso from the Vallé d’Aosta, to come to the States.  It’s always exciting to test these recent arrivals once they are Stateside.  We do all of our selecting overseas in the cellars so that initial bottle opened at home

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