People make wine pretty much anywhere these days but until yesterday, I didn’t know they did so in Idaho. A customer in the store mentioned that he was an Idaho winemaker. When he started in 1988 he was one of two local vintners - now they have more than 50. The vast Snake River Canyon AVA, stretching across 8,000 square miles that encompass parts of Idaho and Oregon, has 1,800 acres under vine, and possesses that elusive combination of climate, (large dinural temperature shifts) soils, (variegated partially volcanic deposits) and elevation (2,500-3,000 ft above sea level) conducive to producing interesting wine, especially as the vines age and growers learn more about the terroir. He promised to bring us some samples. Hopefully we’ll have an all Idaho WOM someday, but not this month! 

I mention it because the encounter was a useful reminder that every wine country or region has its outliers and upstarts. Some of them have been producing wine for centuries. This month we are spotlighting two of our favorite such places: Campania in southern Italy and Savoie, in eastern France.

The ‘shin' of the boot, Campania is one of Italy’s oldest wine regions (the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines all planted grapes here), anchored by its capital Naples. The region boasts such a surfeit of sunshine, hot, dry summers and mild winters that its name comes from the Latin Campania felix meaning ‘fertile countryside.’ It is responsible for just 3% of Italian wine production but nevertheless is home to an impressive array of grape varieties, some of which are found almost nowhere else on earth. The most notable is Aglianico, an utterly distinctive red varietal that ripens so late it cannot be grown any further north. Eruptions of Mount Vesuvius over the centuries have laced the soils with ash and other volcanic deposits imparting a distinct minerality to the wines. Ocone (“Oh-cone-eh”) is a small family winery in the town of Ponte, on the rocky foothills of Mount Taburno. The ‘Bozzovich’ bottling is a non-vintage blend composed of equal parts Aglianico and another ancient local varietal, Pedierosso. 

Savoie, in the foothills of the French Alps and bordering Switzerland to the east, is even smaller, representing less than 1% of French wine output. Although Savoie does make some red wine, from local grapes like Mondeuse and Persan, 70% of production is given over to a handful of native white varietals. These include Jacquere, Altesse, Gringet, Chassalas which are grown barely, if at all, elsewhere. The other major local varietal, Begeron, is the regional name for the Rhone grape Roussane. It makes the most full bodied of Savoie blancs, whilst retaining the mineral-driven, refreshing and pellucid essence of Savoie whites. These wines are famously likened to the alpine streams that run through the region. Our Begeron this month comes from Phillippe Ravier and his son Sylvain, whose family has been making wine in Savoie for generations. 


The PlumpJack Wine Team

Bozzovich Nero, Ponte, Campania, Italy Benevetano Rosso IGT

Region / Country of Origin: Campania, Italy

About the winery: Bozzovich is a special collection of blends created by Ocone (“Oh-cone-eh”), a small, family winery situated in the Campania region, outside of Naples, on the rocky foothills of Mount Taburno. Guiseppe Ocone founded the winery in 1910 and began bottling his own wines at a time when most Campania wineries simply sold bulk to the north. In the 1960s, his son Luigi helped Ocone distinguish itself from other producers by focusing on the region’s near forgotten indigenous varietals such as Aglianico, Greco and Falanghina. Dedication to organic cultivation of these ancient varietals established Ocone as a world class estate. In 2017, Domenico Ocone sold the winery to Giorgio and Roberta Vergona, a local couple, who with their three children have restarted generational history at Ocone. The Bozzovich collection is a living symbol of their mission to celebrate Ocone’s legacy and engage a new generation of wine drinkers by producing authentic wines highlighted by striking packaging.

About the Label: This captivating label is a modern restyling of an original art-nouveau poster commissioned by the Ocone family to market their wines in the 1940's. The wines are named to honor the artist, Bozzovich.

Tasting Notes: Ruby color. Aromatic with red fruit, violet overtones and hints of spices and tobacco. Full-bodied with succulent, soft ripe fruit, framed by moderate structure and refreshing acidity.

Owner: Giorgio Vergona

$25 bottle/$270 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Portobello mushroom steaks

Beef Stew

Purple cauliflower and potatoes

Mature cheeses 

Philippe & Sylvain Ravier Chignin-Bergeron 

Region / Country of Origin: 

About the Winery: Philippe and Sylvain Ravier cultivate 7 hectares of Roussanne (locally known as Bergeron) vines in the commune of Chignin, across the valley from Apremont and Abymes, where the variety has its own Cru designation: Chignin-Bergeron. The vines are between 10 and 30 years of age and are planted on very steep, due south-facing slopes of the Massif des Bauges at 350-450 meters of altitude. The soil is rocky, decomposed white limestone which drains well while retaining heat.

About the winemaking: The fruit is harvested by hand, carefully sorted and moved into the press by gravity. After a light pressing, the must is protected from oxidization by a blanket of CO2. The must is then cooled and lightly clarified (débourbage). Fermentation lasts for about 1 month after which the wine develops on its lees for about 4 months. Malolactic fermentation takes place over the winter. At the end of the fermentation period, the lees are circulated in the tank as the Chignin-Bergeron matures in tank for 9 months. It is fined with Bentonite clay and filtered just before bottling in the Spring.

Tasting Notes: Ravier’s Chignin-Bergeron is the richest and most powerful of their Savoie whites, with aromas and flavors of honey, quince and apricots, an almost viscous texture that is balanced by a fresh and minerally finish.

Winemaker: Philippe & Sylvain Ravier

$25 bottle /$270 case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Cheese fondue


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