Danilo Thomain Enfer d'Arvier 2020
Incredible Red from High in the Italian Alps
One of my favorite finds of all time is Danilo Thomain’s Enfer d’Arvier – rare, delicious, affordable, and totally unique! It is made from grapes grown in the tiny Enfer d’Arvier appellation (only five hectares in the entire DOC!), with vineyards located in an amphitheater-shaped bowl on extremely steep slopes in a high-altitude Alpine valley. This site provides excellent sun exposure, concentrating and capturing the sunlight, creating a unique micro-climate with huge diurnal temperature swings – super hot during the day, with temperatures plunging at night due to the high altitude. The name of the wine, which translates to the “hell of Arvier” reflects this, as well as the hard work required to farm here. Danilo’s the only independent vigneron working this tiny appellation that is only five hectares in size, with just one hectare of vineyards in the shadow of Mont Blanc.
It’s made from 90% Petit Rouge, an obscure grape not widely grown outside the Valle d’Aosta, if anywhere, with 10% Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Gamaret making up the balance. The vines are rooted in sandy glacial moraines on steeply terraced south-facing vineyards in a natural amphitheatre overlooking the Dora Baltea/Doire Baltée river. Natural farming methods are employed (lutte raisonnee) with vines averaging 35-40 years old. It also has one of the greatest labels on earth!