An essay in extremes, Danilo’s Enfer d’Arvier is both bracing in its freshness and intense in its concentration. Rapier-like acidity pulls firmly at the reins of muscular, thickly luscious fruit gained from the blistering heat these perfectly angled vineyards absorb under full sun, and the wine is indeed never deficient in ripeness. As a recently consumed bottle from 2008 attested, this wine can age, and age beautifully.
• Appellation: DOP Enfer d'Arvier
• Uvaggio: Petit Rouge (90%), Pinot Noir, Gamay, Gamaret
• Average Annual Production: 5,000 bottles • Average Alcohol by Volume: 13%
• Average Residual Sugar: <5 g/l
• Average Total Acidity:
In The Vineyard:
• Parcel Names, Slopes, and Locations: From steeply terraced south-facing vineyards in a natural amphitheatre overlooking the Dora Baltea/Doire Baltée
• Soil Types and Compositions: Sandy glacial moraines
• Vine Age, Training, and Density: Trained in Guyot and
planted at 10,000 vines/ha, vines average 35-40 years old. • Average Yields: c. 55-65 hl/ha
• Average Harvest Date and Type: Entirely manual, usually in early October
In The Cellar:
• Fermentation: After total destemming, wine ferments sponta- neously in fiberglass and stainless-steel tanks. Cuvaison lasts c. 2 weeks.
• Pressing: Pneumatic pressing • Time on Lees: c. 9 months
• Malolactic Fermentation: Spontaneous, in stainless-steel tanks following alcoholic fermentation
• Élevage: Wine ages in stainless-steel tanks for c. 9 months. • Press Wine: Blended after malolactic
• Fining and Filtration: Unfined, unfiltered
• Sulfur: Applied after malolactic and at bottling
In The Glass:
Home of the second-highest winegrowing zone in the valley, the the Enfer d’Arvier is a splendorous amphitheater of steeply terraced vines overlooking the Dora Baltea/Doire Baltée river below. Covering a scant 5 ha, the majority of the Enfer d’Arvier’s output is via the local co-op, and with his single hectare in production, Danilo Thomain stands as the zone’s only independent bottler of wine. Amazingly, he is currently clearing and de-foresting another hectare’s worth of hillside above his current holdings in order to expand production, thereby reclaiming some of the long-unused but prime terrain whose viticultural records date back to the 13th century.
The huge diurnal shifts between Enfer d’Arvier’s scorching days and chilly nights—“Enfer d’Arvier,” after all, means “The Hell of Ar- vier”— expresses itself in a palate tug-of-war between rapier-like acidity and thick, luscious fruit that vibrates with energy—and as a recently consumed 2008 attested, it can age beautifully. It seems like just the other day that, through a recommendation from his pal Ermes Pavese, we had yet another face of the Valle d’Aosta’s incomparable terroir revealed to us. These are the sorts of treasures we at Rosenthal live for—arresting wines made by fascinating people working in unique corners of the earth—and Thomain’s wines were an immediate success. Danilo produces only a few hundred cases of wine each vintage, and being able to purchase over half of it for the USA is a great privilege indeed.