Where does it come from:
The origin of Altesse has been the subject of some debate. It has been suggested that it's identical to Furmint, the noble Hungarian variety used to make the great sweet wine Tokaij. However others suspect that it is indigenous to the hills of Savoie. Today there are fewer than 1,000 acres under cultivation, mostly in France, though there is a small quantity in Switzerland.
What's it like for the farmer:
Altesse needs gentle care, as it is quite to susceptible to the most common forms of grape rot.
Castello di Verduno, Pelaverga in Bianco, "Bellis Perennis," Piedmont, Italy
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We choose our wines at Blue Ribbon carefully. But what draws us to one bottle over another? Well, that is a tricky question. Sometimes it's a sense of classicism. There are wines that are such perfect examples of their place of origin that one could never mistake them for anything else. Other times it's the opposite: a delicious wine that somehow seems to buck every expectation. And then occasionally we find a wine that just about stumps us. We taste it, we smile and we scratch our heads, because in front of us is something for which we have no point of reference.
Our Wine of the Week this week fits in this third category: Castello di Verduno's Pelaverga in Bianco, from Piedmont in northern Italy. While the region is best known for its great Nebbiolo-based wines from Barolo and Barbaresco, Piedmont is awash in odd varieties: Grignolino, Brachetto, Freisa, Vespolina and Croatina, to name a few. Pelaverga is a red variety that makes fresh, pretty, aromatic wines, though without much grip. But the "Bellis Perennis" is a white wine!
That's right, white wine from red grapes. It's not as revolutionary as it sounds. After all it happens in Champagne every year. But this wine, Pelaverga "in white" is unique. It is the only one of its kind. This wouldn't mean much if the wine was no good. But it happens to be delicious.
It's quite lean and angular, with plenty of acidity and a stony, mineral character. Wines like this are always a good match for raw bar offerings or dishes with some spice such as our fried chicken. Nor is there a ton of fruit in this bottle. It's much more savory and herbal with some of the same flinty notes that make Chablis and Pouilly Fumé so compelling.
But any description of the wine is almost beside the point here. While we wouldn't serve the wine if it wasn't delicious, we are presenting it as our Wine of the Week as much as for what it represents as how it tastes. Winemaker Mario Andrion is presenting a different view of what is possible in white wine from Piedmont. We hope to see you this week to try something new!
Wine Director, Blue Ribbon Restaurants