Maison Anselemt – a lovely marriage of land, tradition & innovation

I’ll be writing an in-depth report regarding my time at Maison Anselmet, in particular, my time with Renato Anselmet the man that started this excellent winery on its way in 1978 when friends convinced him to bottle some wine for them to purchase, as well as the wines he was already making for himself, but I first wanted to at least get my tasting notes published.

Renato was a bit surprised that first year – every single bottle sold out. He decided to take a chance, and make a second vintage, with production nearly double the first year’s – that completely sold out, too. I like Renato a lot – he’s a warm, cheerful and positive man.; he , his son,and grandson have all been blessed with fine palates. That said, many (empty) bottles of DRC adorn the mantle, so they’ve had some good instruction along the way, too.

Many (land/block/parcel) acquisitions later, and with his son (Giorgio) graduating from the region’s enological school, and now his grandson, Henri also producing his own label, this winery has flourished. And it’s not surprising as the wines most certainly reflect a sense of place (even with the international varieties), and if there’s a house style, it’s elegance, not modern spoof/too much wood, etc.

And there you have it, the two key ingredients for success producing wine – elegance, and sense of place. Well, in the Old World, at least.

Below are some tasting impressions from a recent visit. During the (lengthy) visit, the weather was sunny, then cloudy, then some light rain, then totally sunny again. Of note is the fact that while the mountains that surround this valley are (still, in June) snow-capped, the area actually receives little rainfall, less even than Sardegna.

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2016 Maison Anselmet Pinot Gris  (NR)  I was hoping for a little more – depth, energy…character . The so-so showing could be a function of being so young, or it could just be on the simpler side of things. Avg complexity, depth, flavors/aromas, etc.; left me wanting. That said, it’s well-grown (25yr old vines), clean, mineral, and medium-bodied. Fresh, just missing some personality.

2016 Maison Anselmet Müller-Thurgau  (NR)  On the simpler side, with average flavors, finish. Didn’t really speak to me; I wanted to like it more than I did. That said, for 13€ at the cantina, I could see this dry wine working fine on a hot afternoon/picnic. 100% stainless, from ~ 25 yr old vines.

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2015 Maison Anselmet Chardonnay  (R)  Anselmet produced two different Chardonnay in this vintage (I uploaded a label pic showing each of them), one that is entirely in stainless, and one that sees some time in barrique (with a minimal malo); this review is for the stainless only version. That said, both were quite good, in their respective ways. Classic flavors and aromas, if a bit more on the mineral side of things. Medium(-) body, this seems like it’s got some more room to develop, if only a littlerecommended

2015 Maison Anselmet Chardonnay  (R)  This review is for the Chardonnay that saw time in barrique. Very much in a mouth-filling style, this is medium-bodied, with avg+ acidity, fleshy, orchard/tropical flavors, a mineral streak and some other soil components. A nice blend of old world/new world, though this is (slightly) more CA than Beaune. For the style, a good success. Now thru 2023, some time in decanter would probably helprecommended

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2015 Maison Anselmet Gewürztraminer Stephanie (NR)  100% Gewurztraminer raised in stainless. On the simple side, with fleeting aromas and flavors that are tasty but not overly satisfying (notwithstanding the 20 yr old vines). Light>Medium-bodied, average acidity, short-er finish. As an aperitivo. 14,0% abv. Not sure holding on to this is going to help. Will taste again next year.

2015 Maison Anselmet Muscat  (R+)  100% Muscat from the tiny Chambave zone, this is one of my early introductions to the Anselmet whites – loved it then, and even more now. Solid varietal character, good depth, generous texture with good off-setting acidity. Sapid, and fresh; 100% stainless steel with bâtonnage, from 15 yr old vines. Medium(-) body, this will likely continue to develop over the next year or sorecommended+

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2015 Maison Anselmet La Touche Rouge Vino da Tavola  (R)  Tasty, fresh, and juicy red blend of PetitRouge, Cornalin, Mayolet, Fumin. Light>Medium-bodied, with a fleshy, almost jammy feel. A simple, yet very tasty table wine that’s raised entirely in stainless; a great PnP that’s meant to be consumed in its youth. For what it is, it’s easily recommended

2015 Maison Anselmet Pinot Noir Valle d’Aosta  (NR)  100% Pinot Noir. Obviously well-grown, but not very expressive today. This didn’t say Pinot Noir to me (it did, but not in the way I wanted it to), not today anyway. I think this is developing, and/or needed plenty of air. As it is, I liked it, but I was left searching for its identity. 10 months in barrique (integrated), I think it’s best to try this again in a year or so. 13,5% abv.

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2015 Maison Anselmet Torrette Supèrieur  (R+)   Fresh, a bit zesty even, with a nice combo of red/black fruits, plenty of lift, mineral/soil, citrus, strawberry. Gorgeous texture, more silky than creamy, med>medium+ finish; developing complexity, great balance. Really liked it. A blend of Petit Rouge(70%), Fumin(25%), and Cornalin(5%). recommended+

2014 Maison Anselmet Merlot Valle d’Aosta Le Pellerin  (R+)  I like a good Merlot (this is 100% Merlot); they’re not so easy to find these days. This is a good Merlot, it’s clean, pure, expressive; not jammy, juicy but not blowsy. It’s red-fruited, balanced, with little/no chocolate character, it’s mineral, it’s fresh plum. It took all I could do (I had no way to transport) to leave the winery without 6 bottles. This really imparts notes of the land, not a style (i.e. chocolate/blueberries). The barrique is already integrated, this will develop for the next 2 years, and then be in its preferred plateau after that. 13,5% abv.  recommended+

2014 Maison Anselmet Syrah Torrette Henri  (R+)  100% Syrah. Really nice, original expression of the variety. Kind of like cool climate Rhône meets Tuscan Syrah. A cool middle, plenty of flavor that’s constantly broken up by soil and minerals. Medium-bodied, today, this may add a touch of weight in the coming years, but it’s just fine now and is already begging for food. The wood (barrique, mostly second passage) is integrated; nothing creamy here, rather the tannins and texture are fine and fresh. Red/black fruited, traditional aromas; has it’s own identity/character. 13,0% abv., thru 2026  recommended+

2015 Maison Anselmet Fumin  (R+)  100% Fumin, a meaty, smoky, blue and black berry-laced variety that, in the right hands, can offer plenty of depth of flavor, intrigue, and, of course, a great partner to food. Sustainably grown (manure fertilizer), and from vines ~ 20 years of age, this sees ~ 20 days on the skins (it shows in the ruby>opaque color), this is raised in Fr. barrique for ~ 10 months. Maybe part of the allure is that I know this variety is rare, or maybe the allure is that it tastes so great. Probably it’s both. Either way, this is really great; those that love Syrah from the Northern Rhone would find a lot to appreciate here. Balanced, long, sapid. 14,0% abv., now thru 2025recommended+

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2013 Maison Anselmet Le Prisonnier (HR)  Stunning. Kind of like tasting young BDX – the pedigree is staring you in the face (in this case, the nose, it’s amazing), the purity is undeniable, and the care and attention that went into making it are right there on your nose and palate. That said, similar to fine young BDX, this will need time (the 18 months in Fr. barrique will likely need 2-3 years to more fully integrate – though this will be able to last for decades). Typically a blend of Petit Rouge 40%, Cornalin 35%, Fumin 20%, and Mayolet 5%, this presents as a silky full body, with full but gentle acidity; tannins are fine, just the right amount of grip, and the finish is nearly a minute. This will continue to develop (further) complexity, and depth, but it’s already elegant, sapid, and, on some level, ready. 50€ at the cantina, and worth every centesime/pennyhighly recommended

2005 Maison Anselmet Le Prisonnier  (HR)  {tasted 27 Jan, 2015} Absolutely beautiful. Consumed over three nights, each showing very well if somewhat differently (less fruit, more flowers and soil by day 3). Bright ruby<light cranberry hue; clear. Somewhat high-toned on PnP, with loam, some EtOH, watermelon hard candy, garrigue and dust. Medium-bodied, red fruited, with meaty, cherry, loamy, toasty notes that emerge by the second glass; adds some weight/texture with air, but always manages a fresh, lively cuthighly recommended

Day#2: game notes, rosewater, lilac; acids and tannins more pronounced. Structured, lovely. Long, clean and detailed finish. Finishes with a gentle kiss of warmth. 14,5% abv., thru 2026. highly recommended

2004 Maison Anselmet Le Prisonnier  (R)  Beginning its preferred plateau. Well-lifted, full(-) body, this required about 2 hours in decanter before it was fully expressive. Red/Dark red fruits, good grip/tension, plenty of soil character, with minerals, loam and sous bois. This was a joy to drink; elegant food wine, with more complexity likely to develop. A bit pricey unless you get it at the cantina. Thru 2024recommended

(header photo: the new (well, in the past 10 years) cellar/office/tasting room at Maison Anselmet)

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