Coenfer d'Arvier Enfer
From the otherwise subalpine Valle d'Aosta comes one microclimate so hot that it has been named Enfer (hell or inferno). The Petit Rouge grapes grown there make powerful wines with aromas of hillside scrub, cherries, and almonds. Foremost among them is Coenfer d'Arvier Enfer. The unique embodiment of the raw, earthy character of the landscape is evident. Fans of Rhône wines will dig this!
100% Petit Rouge
Dry, red wine
Morainic soils, moderately calcareous.
Southern exposure at 2500 feet (750 meters). Average slope of 30°. Steepest slope at 45°.
Planting density 2,300 to 3,800 vines per acre. Fertilization annually with green manure of grasses and legumes. Vine age 14 to 40 years.
Wines are fermented in temperature controlled steel tanks using indigenous yeasts.
Matures in French Tonneaux for six months, filtration and clarification using bentonite clay. Further aging in bottle for six months before release. Minimal sulfur added only at bottling.
Up to 15 years
Cranberries, cherry, and vanilla.
Medium intensity nose of woodland scrub, almonds, cherry, cranberry, raspberry, vanilla, and orange rind.
Barbecue ribs, roasts, soups, and typical Valle d’Aosta cheeses.
Why We Love This Wine
We love unique and interesting wines and Enfer d'Arvier is certainly one the most unique. How can a dry red Italian wine with so much pigment and flavor come from such a cold and marginal climate? The answer is that a bend in the river acts as a heat trap and temperatures can be several degrees higher than the surrounding area. The Coenfer d’Arvier vineyards are planted on south facing 45 degree slope, which takes full advantage of light reflecting from the canyon walls, but also from the heat the rocks hold into the evening. The vineyards were already planted in the year 1312, meaning the stone terraces are over 700 years old. Parallels can be drawn to Hermitage in that you can taste the parched hill in the wine.
This isn't a Rhône wine however, far from it. Although this is a dry red Italian wine, many grape varieties appear in French, a nod to their close proximity to neighboring France. Petit Rouge (Picciourouzo in local dialect) is considered the highest quality red found in Valle d'Aosta (almost exclusively), and Enfer is a 100% example. While the Riservas have a more chocolatey and dark fruit profile, the Enfer is lighter, brighter, and less oaked. It is a medium intensity wine with an interesting brushy nose. One could say it has the nose of a Rhône, the weight of a Beaujolais Village, and a slight rusticity all of its own.
$40 / Bottle
$40 / Bottle
About the Winery
The vineyards and winery are located in the narrow valley of Arvier, between Aosta and Courmayeur. They occupy rough terrain on at south facing steep slope above the river Dora Baltea. There is strong summer heat and very little water on this steep hill of severe beauty. Because of this hot microclimate, the wine was given the nickname of Enfer (hell or inferno). Enfer d'Arvier was early to get its designation as a DOC in 1972 (a year after Donnas), but was later absorbed into the catch-all Valle d'Aosta DOC. However, the wine label is allowed to list Enfer d'Arvier as a sub-appellation. Both the vineyards and winery are certified organic.
Images Courtesy of: Coenfer d'Arvier