06 January 2010
Literary (?) Skiers 6
In a nutshell, Italy’s Val d’Aosta (most famous for Courmayeur and other ski areas) has one of the more storied vinous histories in Europe. Vines have been planted on the steep slopes of the region since before the Roman era and during the 1500s the red wine of Aosta was used in demonic exorcisms all the way to the Vatican. In a religious sense, the wine was revered for its deep sanguine appearance and meaty overtones - it was not sweet and easy to enjoy - exactly what the church was looking for. It smelled of evil things, which furthered the sense of purpose surrounding the exorcism itself. Today it smells the same but instead of “evil” we would call it heaven.
If the Belluard Les Alpes/Les Feu defines the Garagiste ideology from a white wine side of things, it could be argued that Les Crêtes does so from a red wine point of view as well. While Les Crêtes receives some of the more noteworthy critical praise in Italy for their white wines (among the highest rated in the country), it is their red wine that spills their soul. This is severe alpine wine - above tree level skiing with no maps or lifts in sight. You better have telemark skis to navigate your way down as Les Crêtes insures their wine is full of twigs, rocks, billy goat droppings, hiking boots, alpine flowers, and one of the most intense aromatics of varietal sauvage you will encounter. Think Ampuis (not Guigal but artisinal Ampuis) meets Taurasi with snow chains and studded tires inching their way over the mountain pass - no railings and a sheet of solid ice. There is no room for error and the journey is miraculous and precarious. When you make it over the top (or to the ski area parking lot) you feel a sense of winning a battle with the elements but a sense of anticipation as to the days fresh tracks that lie ahead in 12-inch deep powder. If you could bottle the wild ride above with all the scenery, smells and death-defying battle of the wills between your own ability and nature’s determination to disallow your every movement - it would be Les Crêtes and this wine in specific.
--Jon Rimmerman, Garagiste Wine