I’ve been writing about wine for 10 years and like any obsession, addiction, hobby, as it progresses, your kicks are found by getting more and more niche, or lets be honest; geeky and out there. Wines from the far edges of the wine-world interest me, and as an Italian wine writer, I’m lucky that Italy provides a huge variation of terroir and grapes so going right out to left field is an every day occurrence. Step forth Anselmet wine and the Valle d’Aosta.
The Valle d’Aosta is wild-wine territory and home to Europe’s highest vineyards and offers some of the least hospitable terroir for grape growing in the world. However, its from these heights (3900 feet+), normally intolerable to fruitful vine growth, that Anselmet wine is teased into production. All 18 bottlings produced by Maison Anselmet come from a wide range of soils, heights, grape varieties and exposures but all hail from this tiny Italian province. They’re all unique in the vineyard, but in production they all share the same time, love and dedication from Renato and Giorgio Anselmet.
Until the last few years, it was impossible to buy Anselmet wine in the UK, any Brit who had heard of the Maison either tried their wines on holiday or ski trips or perhaps in the wine bars of Milan. However, Tannico, an outfit not dissimilar to The Cellar Door (my own, now defunct, Italian wine business in Pescara) is importing quality Italian wines to the UK market giving us Brits the chance to try some of the good stuff Italians usually keep to themselves!
Recognise this bottle? All Anselmet wines have the same distinctive and classic label. The first record of the Anselmet family holding a vineyard dates back to the 16th century, so a long pedigree of winemaking in the region, with knowledge passed down from generation to generation doesn’t need the flashy wine marketing.
The story behind Anselmet wines?
Between Saint Pierre and Villeneuve in the heart of this tiny province you can find the historic wine making area of Torrette and the small but perfectly formed winery of Anselmet and it’s owner Renato. Although the province is about the size of Greater London in sq km, the soils here and numbers of grapes grown rival that of a new world country. Even the wines of this one producer cover three different soil types including moraine, sandy loam and clay and 17 grape varieties (more on them later). The wine’s of the Valle d’Aosta and especially of Anselmet are for the intrepid wine tourist, ever on the lookout for something new and exciting.
Producing 35,000 bottles in 2005, Anselmet’s popularity has sky rocketed in the last 10 years with production tripling to 100,000 bottles in 2015. Anselmet have grown so quickly by tailoring their production cleverly to two markets. Firstly, by sticking to their Valle d’Aosta routes with Petit Rouge and Petit Arvine wines and enjoying the plaudits of Gambero Rosso (who love typicity) and the Italian market. Lastly, by catering to the International market with favourite international varieties like Pinot Noir, Reisling, Guwertraminer, Syrah, Merlot and especially Chardonnay, their Chardonnay élevé en fût de chêne is considered one of the best wines in the region.
Anselmet wine reviewed
Recently I was lucky enough to try 9 Anselmet wines in Italy at a tasting that comprised several of the best winemakers in the Valle d’Aosta including La Crotta di Vegneron, Les Cretes and, the up and coming, Elio Ottin. What follows is a set of adjectives, possible similes but certainly no hyperbole and 9 wine reviews.
Anselmet – Muller-Thurgau 2015 – €15
Notes of pineapple, gooseberry and apricot. Mild acidity on the palate with a sumptuous mouthfeel but a touch hot on the end. Beautiful flavours and a surprisingly journey on the palate left me a bit confused. 86 Points
Anselmet – Muller-Thurgau 2016 – €15
As you’d expect, lighter and more vibrant than the ’15 with hints of lime cordial on the nose and a nice little citrus kick on the finish. Tropical notes abound. Better acidity. Crisp and Fresh. 89 Points
Anselmet – Arline NV – €?
Just 900 bottles of Arline per year. Addictive nose, notes of honey, apricot, figs and candied lemon, lovely sweet wine suited perfectly to the blue cheese of the region. Loved it. 89 Points
Anselmet – Chambave Muscat– €14
Sweet orange peel and candied notes on the nose give way to a palate that has filed for divorce. Bitter and herbaceous notes in the mouth but with great length, when that length brings nettles, you don’t want it. You can tell the wine is well made and interesting but it was not to my personal tastes. 84 Points
Anselmet – Chardonnay (Green Label) 2015 – €15
Anselmet – Chardonnay (Eleve en Fut de Chene) 2014– €30
The star of the show. Elegant nose, spicy and warm with a hint of banana, if Chardonnays were drunk at Xmas, this would be the one to pop. Well balanced, nice use of oak, some tropical flavours and a silky mouthfeel. Happy Chardonnay. 91 Points
Anselmet – Torrette Superiore 2015 – €?
Mid bodied, strawberries and cream and cranberry aromas. Fresh and far more interesting than I thought it would be, complex with a fair few tannins and a good vein of acidity. Surprised and impressed by this. 90 Points
Anselmet – Pinot Noir 2014 – €16
Strawberry, vanilla and hints o’ Hubba Bubba. Interesting wine, really nice flavour profile but then fades to green at the end, full bodied Pinot and well structured if a little one dimensional. 87 Points
Anselmet – Merlot Le Pellerin 2014 – €?
Dark brooding purple and ready to give you what for. Chocolate, plums and some floral aromas join you on the palate for some full on fruit and a bit of heat on the finish, feels like a baby bruiser who needs a few years in the cellar. Still good fun today. 88 Points
Anselmet – Syrah Henri 2014 – €?
Inky deep purple. Bramble, hedgerow, black forest gateau Syrah with an enchanting nose and a super fruit driven palate. My notes say Flavour Flavour and the only underlining in the book reminds me that this must be a knockout wine! 90 Points
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