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 BC 1I can find no trace of this person and am not sure of spelling; if anyone can enlighten me, please comment or email me..
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-mères 2This 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. 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)