Domaine Danilo Thomain Enfer d’Arvier Vallee d’Aosta Petit Rouge 2018
Located in the shadow of Mont Blanc in far Northwest above the Piedmont, this is one of the smallest D.O.s in Italy at around 5 hectare and Danilo owns a little over 1 hectare of that centered in the town of Arvier. It’s located in an amphitheatre that shoots straight up from a small stream and collects what little heat they get in the summer months. Thomain’s Enfer d’Arvier is perhaps the most jubilant, tension-laden red wine that Rosenthal imports from the Valle d’Aosta. Produced entirely from the indigenous Petit Rouge grape, it’s a homemade wine in every sense of the word: these brutally steep terraces must be worked manually; grapes are hand-harvested, carried just down the road to Danilo’s house, and the wine is made right there—fermented spontaneously, and aged in non-temperature-stabilized steel tanks in his basement two stories below the earth’s surface. The just-arrived 2018 pours a deep, black red—a gorgeous, menacing sanguine color. The nose is exuberant, brimming with black cherries, sun-drenched stones, tiny mountain flowers, and a touch of the sauvage. The huge diurnal shifts between Enfer d’Arvier’s scorching days and chilly nights expresses itself in a palate tug-of-war between rapier-like acidity and thick, luscious fruit that vibrates with energy.