Aosta Valley

Aosta is the center and lone province of Valle d’Aosta, which ranks 20th among Italy’s regions in terms of size (3,264 square kilometers) and population (120,000). Total vineyard area is only 636 hectares producing approximately 22,000 hectolitres of which about 90% are red and ONLY 10% white (surprise!).

Valle d’Aosta is a mass of Alps, one higher than the other, and the famous Mount Bianco and Cervino (Matterhorn) are among it, reputed to be some of the highest in continental Europe (the highest in Italy is Gran Paradiso). Valle d’Aosta has no IGT. Grape varieties is a hodge-podge of Italian, French and German like nebbiolo (called picotendro), dolcetto, moscato, chardonnay, pinots, gamay and muller thurgau.

The soil are predominantly glacial moraine (rocky semifertile soil) and vineyards ranges from 300 metres in Donnas and Arnad to about 800 metres in Aosta. Further up in Morgex and La Salle, the highly acidic blanc de Morgex grape manages to become a wine. But the most intriguing wines of Valle d’Aosta stem from varieties it calls its own. These include the Petit Rouge of Enfer d’Arvier and Torrette, the Blanc de Valdigne of Morgex and La Salle, the Petite Arvine of the varietal white of the name, the Vien for the red wine of Nus and the Malvoisie (apparently a mutation of Pinot Gris) for the rare dessert white of Nus.

Taking into consideration the harsh contours of Valle d’Aosta and it’s tiny population, the 636 hectares of vineyards are divided among thousand of different proprietors and many of them not much bigger than family vegetable gardens. It is funny to note there are single estate elsewhere in Italy that produces more wines annually than the whole region of Valle d’Aosta.

Given the tiny numbers and substantial tourist visiting Valle d’Aosta, it is not surprising that very little of it’s wine makes it out of the region, let alone overseas. Six cooperative wineries with 450 growers account for about three-quarters of Valle D’Aosta’s wine and are largely responsible for a steady improvement in quality.