When we were in North Italy last year, I was on a Piedmont binge and my budget and luggage were earmarked for the fruit of that wonderous country. We did make trip to Aosta, though, and I regret not buying any wines there. A bottle of Petite Arvine by Grosjean at a restaurant did whet my appetite, though. So I was pleased to find out Bacchus  a small Italian import specialist run by one Ori Baruch, was carrying a couple of wines by Ottin, a producer from Aosta. Among other things.

Ottin, Valle d'Aosta, Pinot Noir, 2018

I've been loving Pinot forever, it seems, and I still can't get over versatile this finicky, almost sickly grape, can be. And how surprising, as well. Take this. From a climate I assume is even colder than Burgundy, this has an appeal I can't really wrap my my head around. It feels like it blends tartness with ripeness, as though the grapes survived a long, cold ripening without damage from rain or hail, ending up with wonderful aromas of fresh red fruit tinted with orange peel, and different, less opulent spices than you'd get in the Cote d'Or. It's fragrant with good focus on the palate and a dry, slightly scorched earthiness. It's less than medium-bodied, carrying its flavors with an almost feathery touch, but with persistence nonetheless. It's a collaboration of terroir and winemaking. The winemaking team has a soft, sensitive hand, but skill wouldn't get you far without the proper terroir and care in the vineyards. (Feb. 18, 2021)

Elvio Cogno, Barolo, Cuscina Nuova, 2016

Cogno is a famous name from Novello, the least known of the Barolo villages. Just about all the production is from the Ravera Cru. Cuscina Nuova is a plot of young vines and the bottling is intended for early consumption. But this being a 2016, 4-5 years is not enough. It's a wine that has garnered plenty of high scores all over the place, well deserved in my opinion. It's earthy but the other nuances are... less hard to pin down. Let's just say it's no wonder that every reviewer found a different set of aromas. It's complex and varifold enough to cause such reactions. The structure is lithe and yet stern, as well, with tannins that and acidity that prod to fruit to open on the finish, rather than block it. It's tasty now, but with much more to come. (Feb. 19, 2021)

Azienda Agricola Prà, Soave Classico, Monte Grande, 2018

Oddly enough, this is just about my first formal Soave. I can't judge it as a Soave and the experience is so new for me that I can't quite articulate what my senses are picking up. The texture is oily, the aromas feel like the summer fruit is lightly sautéed in an oil of some sort. Yet, there is no flab or lack of tensile structure although, like many Italian whites I run into, it's marred by some bitterness on the finish. I like it a lot, both as a change of pace and in its own right. (Feb. 20, 2021)

Ottin, Valle d'Aosta, Petite Arvine, 2019

So the circle closes with the grape that first got my attention. This is actually a high octane, high ABV wine, spicy/minerally, multi-layered and deep. It's quite different from the wine we had, a bit too fat for my tastes, but still an interesting white wine and quite a match for a cold, winter night. (Feb. 25, 2021)