The Valle d’Aosta is the fascinating Alpine junction between France, Switzerland, and Italy.
In the extreme northwest of Italy, Valdostano denizens typically speak both French and Italian, their accents a mind-bending blend of Southern French drawl and classic bouncy, sing-song Italian.
Contrary to popular belief, the Romans may not have been first to bring viticulture to the region, with a possible earlier arrival alluded to by locals citing a historian named Guillemot who discovered proof of native vines ca. 2000 or 3000 BC1.
At different moments much later in history, the House of Savoy possessed every greatest wine region in the world: Burgundy, Piedmont, and the Valle d’Aosta (which served as their hunting grounds). Oh, to have been a Duke of Savoy.
The Valle d’Aosta is quite dry, and you’ll see evidence of irrigation all over while driving the freeways — giant sprinklers working to keep vines alive.
Massive streaks of green granite are visible from along the highways that curl through these glacial valleys; roche-mères2 that sit above quarries and seem to bleed crumbly, powdered rock, like green scars cut into the side of a mountain.
Both blue and green granite are common terroir components throughout the Valle d’Aosta. These are ridiculously shallow, sandy glacial soils, where the ocean never reached nor deposited calcium-based limestone minerals (as in neighboring Gattinara, or, say, Chablis).
I’d like to explore this region through two different producers: one is a co-op, integral to the region’s success, and the other an iconic, independent producer. Each is emblematic of the region in a different way. (Click to Read more)
- I can find no trace of this person and am not sure of spelling; if anyone can enlighten me, please comment or email me. [↩]
- This best translates to bedrock; imagine an exposed crumbling layer of bedrock whose eroded pieces are strewn down upon a vineyard site to lend its character; or, conversely, are buried deep under a vineyard site, where dry-farmed roots tap into them. [↩]