Here is one from the far ends of the earth…
Vetroz is a four square mile township, online two mountain passes beyond Mont Blanc, order in the middle of the Swiss Alps. It contains the Grand Cru of the red grape Cornalin. Romain Papilloud, at his winery Cave du Vieux Moulin, is considered its greatest practitioner.
Yes, this wine is from an unknown region at the far end of the earth. So, I am writing because I think this wine is something important, no matter how small the area, no matter how unknown the wine.
Keep in mind, every great wine region was once unknown. Napa in the 70s? Chateauneuf du Pape before Robert Parker? Even further back, Brits once refused to drink Bordeaux when they could have Madarin and Cahors.
I have drunk Papilloud’s Cornalin three times, and each time been entranced. Here are my thoughts:
The wine is of two parts.
The first is the smell, which is pronounced and nuanced, yet also very fruit driven, and excitingly so. There are aromas of black cherries, very ripe strawberries, fennel and anise, touches of pine trees, air blown off a glacier (hey, it’s made on a Mountain, why not?), and minerals. The nose is a gracious [graceful?] ballet dancer, making me think the wine is all play and ease, that this will be a gulpable experience.
The second part is the palate, which is opulent but very firm, and very precise. Not “grippy”, certainly not chewy. In fact, I don’t even really feel like it’s all that tannic. Its precision and firmness is in its minerality and finish, both of which I find to be extraordinary and incredibly enjoyable.
In my somewhat limited experience in the wine world I have encountered this type of palate before – in wines that are destined for the long haul and, quite frankly, destined for greatness. The two parts, with time in the cellar, will become a harmonious whole.
The first glass told me I wanted to enjoy this wine more, the second told me I wanted it in my cellar, the third told me I needed to share it with trusted friends who would understand and appreciate it, the fourth and final told me I would share it with you on its birthday 10, 20, maybe even 30 years on.
Tiny production and tight allocation means that the scant share that came to the U.S. was split between high-end Swiss restaurants, the darling somms of New York City, and me (hey, who said Milwaukee isn’t trendy). If you can tuck away a bottle or two, it may take a while, but you will be richly rewarded.
2010 Romain Papilloud “Cave du Vieux Moulin” Cornalin de Vetroz
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