Wines of the Week: Valentini & Christian Moreau

Valentini 2015 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 96
Christian Moreau 2019 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos Clos des Hospices 95
by Ian D’Agata

Valentini 2015 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo                96 

Valentini is a benchmark wine estate, a real quality leader in Italian wine. For example, the Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can be truly other-worldly, but in a sign of how quality people tend to excel at no matter what they try their hand at, the estate also makes an outstanding extra virgin olive oil. Indeed, while many if not most Italian wine estates will also often have an extra virgin olive oil to sell, Valentini’s makes what is agreed to be one of the three best extra virgin olive oils made by Italian wineries.

As if it wasn’t enough that the Valentini family is exceptionally dedicated and talented at making red wine and olive oil, it just so happens that their white wine is one of the country’s best whites too. In fact, Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is universally regarded as one of Italy’s ten best white wines (and for many experts it’s actually the best one of them all, or at no worse in the top three). Certainly, no other Italian white wine ages better than this one, save perhaps for some of the Terlano coops magically great Pinot Bianco and Terlaner wines. Over the past thirty years, I have been fortunate to have enjoyed numerous Valentini efforts from the late 1950s and 1960s and there is no doubt that the wine not ages well but improves with age as well. In fact, this is a wine that probably delivers even more in its second decade of existence than it does in the first. This iconic wine is made by Francesco Paolo Valentini, a worthy successor to his father Edoardo and now helped increasingly by his bright, young – 27years old- son Gabriele (a degree in business but who has been following his grandfather and father in the vineyards basically since birth) the next Valentini generation to be soon at the helm of this iconic Italian estate. Outside of Francesco Paolo’s innate talent, it needs to be said that one of the keys to the success and unique goodness of Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is the fact that he grows the original, authentic Trebbiano Abruzzese variety in his vineyards (Trebbiano Abruzzese is the grape variety: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is the name of the wine, not the grape) and not one of the many “impostor” grapes that have been more or less unknowingly planted in Trebbiano Abruzzese’s place. For there is very little of the latter grape left in the Abruzzo countryside, supplanted over the decades with similar-looking wine grapes such as Mostosa, Bombino Bianco, Pagadebit and even Trebbiano Toscano (which looks nothing like Trebbiano Abruzzese and should never have been confused with it in the first place). But like the ads once said, it’s hard to beat “the real thing”.  The Valentini 2015 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is one of the best young whites from Valentini in years, pale yellow in colour, very perfumed and vibrant on the nose (white and yellow flowers, beeswax, carob, fennel, apricot, wet stones and chamomile dominate the olfactory profile), then laser-like in its delivery of flavours very similar to the aromas on the fresh but silky, extremely long and mineral-etched finish. This beauty that will age thirty years without a problem. Very well done. The quality of the wine grape is such that both Tiberio and Valle Reale, two other Abruzzo estates that also own the real Trebbiano Abruzzese make Trebbiano d’Abruzzo wines that rank not just with with Valentini’s, but also amongst Italy’s best white wines; but there is no denying it is the Valentini estate that has put the variety and the wine on the world quality wine map. Drinking window: 2025-2045.

Christian Moreau 2019 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos Clos des Hospices               95

One of my favourite Chablis producers, Christian Moreau’s first vintage dates back to 2002. The estate is blessed with parcels in some of the best climats of all Chablis (for example, Les Clos and Blanchots) and excels at making extremely pure, finely chiseled Chablis wines that speak of Kimmeridgean soil, oyster shells, white fruit, minerals and herbs in the amazingly refined manner that only Chablis is capable of. In fact, the Christian Moreau 2019 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos Clos des Hospices is much less chiseled and taut than other Chablis from this venerable grand cru, or even other wines made by the estate. This is because the specific Clos des Hospices plot is located farther down, at the bottom, of the Les Clos climat, characterized by a much warmer micro- and meso-climate than that of the higher reaches of Les Clos and is therefore much readier to drink at a younger age than some of the other wines made at this estate (or at least, its fat/roundness is such that it seems that way). The warmer nature of this specific section of Les Clos is immediately recognized not so much by the wine’s colour (pale golden- and green-tinged yellow) but by the array of ripe tropical yellow fruit it offers on the nose (banana, pineapple, mango, papaya, canned peach) and the textured, ripe and rich mouthfeel that betrays little presence of oak despite being barrel fermented and aged in oak. Harmonious acidity provides the needed element to ensure that this beautiful wine’s balancing act goes on unnoticed: powerful and ripe, but also elegant and nicely chiseled, this is one gorgeous Chablis that will linger long not just on your taste buds but in your memory cells as well. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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Ian D'Agata