La Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir

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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!
Download the Cantina Tech Sheet
Domaine NameLa Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir
Family/Owners NameCuneaz
How many years has the family owned the domaine?The winery was founded in 2009, after 6 years of testing. The previous production was for family consumption. One of the oldest country workbooks found in Valle d'Aosta shows that at the end of the eighteenth century the Cuneaz family was a major wine producer.
How many generations?This is the first generation
How many hectares of vines are leased?0.3 hectares
How many hectares of vines are owned?0.5 hectares
Are your vineyards or wines Organic or Biodynamic Certified? If yes, in the EU? In the US? If no, are you in the process of becoming certified? We don't have a bio certification, but our intervention is reduced to a minimum. We primarily use copper and sulphur. We don't use herbicide. All our vineyards are weeded manually and mechanically.
Describe your vineyard management practices (e.g. low-intervention, organic, biodynamic, standard, etc.).Minimal intervention according to the agro-environmental provisions of the rural development plan. No weeding.
Do you do field work and harvest manually? By machine? By horse? Do you practice green harvest? Leaf thinning? How do you fertilize?Harvesting and pruning are done manually. Depending on the year and the age of the vines, we do thinning of the grapes and defoliation, in order for the grapes to ripen better. As a fertilizer, we use dried chicken manure, which releases substances into the soil that are necessary to keep the vines healthy.
Do you sell off any of your wine en vrac/allo sfuso?We neither buy nor sell grapes
Do you typically sell or buy any grapes? Please specify.We don't sell wine by measure
WINE 1BADEBEC 2014
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationRosso Valle D'Aosta
Cepage/UvaggioPetit Rouge: 90%, Vien de nus e fumin: 10%
% Alcohol by volume14
# of bottles produced2000
Grams of Residual Sugar1.5 -2.00
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/ name(s) and locationsGressan and Jovencan. Names of the vineyards: Pleod, Tsampillon and Tsampe'en
Exposures and slope of vineyardsNorth
Soil Types(s)Calcareous
Average vine age (per vineyard)40 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)10,000 plants per hectare
Approximate harvest date(s)At the beginning of October. On average, Summer was warm and with the right amount of precipitation. We did little thinning, because the vines had the right number of bunches. It was an average year. Grapes of good quality
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
destemmed, %0
Fermentation: vessel type and size10-hectoliter steel vats
Duration of contact with lees15 days
Select or indigenous yeast?Cultured yeasts
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationApproximately one third of the grapes are left to dry for 2 or 3 weeks, to attain a higher concentration of sugar and aromas. Fermentation in steel, malolactic fermentation in steel, ageing in barriques and tonneaux. Some racking before ageing in wood. Cold stabilization of wine and final, light filtration.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)75% in barriques and tonneaux, 25% in steel
Duration of elevage11 months
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market4 or 16 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeVery light filtration
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Sulphites are added during the vinification process, the ageing processes and before the wine is bottled. Artisanal vinification exposes wine to air during racking and a lot of sulphur dioxide dissipates and must be reintroduced. Free sulphur dioxide: 20 milligrams per liter. It is a year where one finds all the typical characteristics of this wine as to acidity, tannins and structure. It is a good vintage.
Wine 2BADEBEC 2015
Cepage/UvaggioPetit Rouge:90% ; Vien en nus e fumin: 10%
% Alcohol by volume14
# of bottles produced2000
Grams of Residual Sugar1.5- 2.00
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/ name(s) and locationsGressan and Jovencan. Names of the vineyards: Pleod, Tsampillon and Tsampe'en
Exposures and slope of vineyardsNorth
Soil Types(s)Calcareous
Average vine age (per vineyard)40 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)10,000 plants per hectare
Approximate harvest date(s)At the end of September. Summer was warm, with little precipitation. We did little thinning, because the vines had the right number of bunches. This year, we moved up the harvesting date, because the grapes had ripened earlier. Grapes of good quality
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
destemmed, %0
Fermentation: vessel type and size10-hectoliter steel vats
Duration of contact with lees15 days
Select or indigenous yeast?Cultured yeasts
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationApproximately one third of the grapes are left to dry for 2 or 3 weeks, to attain a higher concentration of sugar and aromas. Fermentation in steel, malolactic fermentation in steel, ageing in barriques and tonneaux. Some racking before ageing in wood. Cold stabilization of wine and final, light filtration.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)75% in barriques and tonneaux, 25% in steel
Duration of elevage11 months
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US marketDepending on the loads, 4 or 16 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeVery light filtration
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Sulphites are added during the vinification process, the ageing processes and before the wine is bottled. Artisanal vinification exposes wine to air during racking and a lot of sulphur dioxide dissipates and must be reintroduced. Free sulphur dioxide: 20 milligrams per liter. It is a year where one finds all the typical characteristics of this wine as to acidity, tannins and structure. It is a good vintage, very similar to 2014.
WINE 3GRANDGOSIER 2015
AppellationPinot Noir Valle d'Aosta
% Alcohol by volume13.5
# of bottles produced800
Grams of Residual Sugar0
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/ name(s) and locationsGressan and Jovencan
Exposures and slope of vineyardsNorth
Soil Types(s)Calcareous
Average vine age (per vineyard)Some vines are 40 years old and others 10 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)9,000 plants per hectare
Approximate harvest date(s)Mid-September Summer was warm, with little precipitation. We did little thinning, because the vines had the right number of bunches. This year, we moved up the harvesting date, because the grapes had ripened earlier. Grapes of good quality
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
destemmed, %0
Fermentation: vessel type and size10-hectoliter steels vats
Duration of contact with lees15 days
Select or indigenous yeast?Cultured yeasts
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationFermentation in steel, malolactic fermentation in steel, ageing in barriques. Some racking before ageing in wood. Cold stabilization and final, light filtration.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)75% barriques, 25% in steel
Duration of elevage11 months
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US marketDepending on the loads, 4 or 16 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeVery light filtration
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Sulphites are added during the vinification process, the ageing processes and before the wine is bottled. Artisanal vinification exposes wine to air during racking and a lot of sulphur dioxide dissipates and must be reintroduced. Free sulphur dioxide: 20 milligrams per liter. It is a year where one finds all the typical characteristics of this wine. Typical, very strong aromas and typical color.
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