Nadir Cunéaz, “Les Gosses” Rosso
Nadir Cunéaz, “Les Gosses” Rosso

Nadir Cunéaz, “Les Gosses” Rosso

Vallée d’Aoste, Italy 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$40.00
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Nadir Cunéaz, “Les Gosses” Rosso

It’s been a long time since my last visit to Italy’s Valle d’Aosta, so I seethed with jealousy when my SommSelect colleagues texted me photos from their recent trip there. But I was happy for them. This northwestern-most corner of Italy is a mash-up of (viti)cultural influences, and the wines wrung from its rock-strewn slopes reflect that—they’re a little bit Italian, a little bit French, a little bit Swiss, and, thanks to minuscule quantities, not easy to find outside their little home region. Nevertheless, we persist, with the ultimate case in point being the wines of Nadir Cunéaz.

Offering a wine like “Les Gosses” is not so far removed from smuggling bottles back in suitcases, given that Nadir produces fewer than 100 cases of the wine. For Nadir’s importer, sending a small amount of this garage wine to the US is a passion project, not a viable commercial enterprise, and we’ve been among the first in line every time a new vintage of “Les Gosses” lands on our shores. The wine, crafted from a blend of local varieties most people have never heard of, is a sublimely aromatic alpine red loaded with energy, deep minerality, and tangy wild-berry fruit, sourced from an assortment of vineyard parcels the size of backyard garden plots. Dramatic day-night temperature swings provide a long, cool growing season for the likes of Vien de Nus, Petit Rouge, and Vuillermin, and the result is one of the most lively and captivating mountain reds any of us could hope to try. This one comes with an updated label and an added layer of elegance relative to past vintages—so have at it!

At one time, Nadir Cunéaz made wines just for friends and family, but he began producing commercial bottlings in 2009, at the urging of some of those friends—including fellow Valle d’Aosta winemaker Danilo Thomain, who introduced Nadir to his importer, Rosenthal Wine Merchant. Most of the Cunéaz family vineyards are in the town of Gressan, some of them planted more than 100 years ago; “Les Gosses,” derived from a French term for “little children,” is Cunéaz’s love letter to the varieties so unique to this part of the world. It is mostly Vien de Nus, with smaller amounts of Petit Rouge and Vuillermin providing the balance—all of them among the many native grape varieties that would likely be extinct were it not for small growers like Cunéaz.

When you encounter wines from the Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste, you’re experiencing a convergence of French, Italian, and Swiss wine traditions. French (and a local patois that skews heavily French) is the main language here, and as such the labels on bottles can get confusing—typically you’ll see both Italian and French used simultaneously, much as it is on street signs, etc. in the region. The vineyards, some of which are among the highest elevation in Europe, occupy often-steep terraces and slopes along the Dora Baltea River, which eventually runs down into neighboring Piedmont, where it hooks up with the Pò. Although there’s ample water in the form of mountain runoff (surging through Roman-era aqueducts that slice up the hills), Mont Blanc provides a “rain shadow” effect not unlike the one Alsace sees from the nearby Vosges range. Summers here are drier and warmer than you might expect, although the diurnal swings (daytime heat spikes followed by cool nights) are extreme.

Sourced from an assortment of south-facing parcels and vinified/aged in stainless steel, “Les Gosses” is mountain-meadow fresh, aromatic, and luminous. It’s a deep ruby at its core, moving to pink/magenta at the rim, with lifted aromas of red currant, black and red cherry, plum skin, loose tea, black pepper, red and purple flowers, wet stones, and a faint hint of smoke. It is medium-weight, electric, and takes well to a chill, which tames some of the acidity and brings the dark berry fruit forward. The tension is such that a 30-minute decant is recommended, along with something to pair with it—as delicious as it will be on its own, this wine’s true colors will show when paired with food. Serve it in Burgundy stems at 55-60 degrees with the kind of rustic local dish you might eat while skiing at Courmayeur or Chamonix. Absolute perfection, in my book. Enjoy!

Nadir Cunéaz, “Les Gosses” Rosso


Northwestern Italy


Italy’s Piedmont region is really a wine “nation”unto itself, producing world-class renditions of every type of wine imaginable: red, white, sparkling, name it! However, many wine lovers fixate on the region’s most famous appellations—Barolo and Barbaresco—and the inimitable native red that powers these wines:Nebbiolo.



The area known as “Chianti” covers a major chunk of Central Tuscany, from Pisa to Florence to Siena to Arezzo—and beyond. Any wine with “Chianti” in its name is going to contain somewhere between 70% to 100% Sangiovese, and there are eight geographically specific sub-regions under the broader Chianti umbrella.

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