Known as Humagne Rouge in Switzerland (but no relation to the light-skinned Humagne), the Aostan variety Cornalin is the offspring of Rouge du Pays, aka Cornalin du Valais in Switzerland.
Cornalin/Humagne Rouge is equally at home in Switzerland's Valais region (130ha planted) as in the Aosta Valley in north-eastern Italy (11ha) and there is a definite similarity in the wines produced from the parent and offspring varieties.
Cornalin produces a peppery, black-fruited wine – occasionally reminiscent of Cabernet Franc - with lively acidity and quite often a smoky, lightly reductive character. Tannins are generally dry but not drying, and in well-made examples they are a perfect partner to the lively fruit, which has wild, aromatic freshness. Unoaked or lightly oaked versions are more successful because oak can easily swamp the varietal character.
Try Italian Cornalin from Maison Anselmet (Broblan), Hervé de Guillaume (La Vrille), ViniRari (Cuvée de St Ours), Didier Gerbelle (Peque-Nal) and Les Granges; and Swiss Humagne Rouge from Domaine Ardévaz, Domaine des Muses, Simon Maye & Fils, Cave la Romaine and Bonvin.
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz; www.winegrapes.org
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