I have been a fan for a while now of Petite Arvine. More known outside Italy as a Swiss grape than an Italian one, it may very well be Vallée d’Aoste’s grape with the most potential. Les Crêtes, Vallée d’Aoste’s benchmark producer, produces a fantastic, albeit pricey, Petite Arvine that wins accolades year after year. I recently learned of Elio Ottin, a vigneron who prior to 2007 sold his grapes to the local coop. Ottin produces just under 2,000 cases per year from local grapes Petite Arvine, Petit Rouge and Fumin. After much searching online for a US importer I finally gave up and gave Elio a call hoping that he could speak English. He doesn’t. The language we spoke in, French, gives you an indication of the influences and culture here. To my pleasant surprise, he had recently shipped some cases to an importer in Southern California.
If you are looking for a wine that will provide instant gratification with sweet fruit and oak, this is not your wine. You almost feel like you can taste alpine waters and smell hawthorn flowers growing between the vines. The decidedly alpine character yields a wine one could imagine to be a Sylvaner grown on Mont Blanc, or Monte Bianco, if such a wine existed. There is some weight and breadth on the palate with savory, saline minerality on the finish. This wine takes you some place. Very high quality.