Sometimes known as Italy's Alpine corner, there is little room for viticulture in this tiny mountainous region. Yet despite the physical difficulties, the vineyards of Valle d’Aosta have been cultivated since Roman times. Wines from the region are highly distinctive and show the influences of the region’s neighbours in Switzerland and France.
There is just one regionwide DOC for Valle d’Aosta or Vallée d’Aoste, as it is known in French, the second language of the area. The DOC encompasses the reds of Arnad-Montjovet, Chambave, Donas, Enfer d’Arvier, Nus and Torrette, with the French influence apparent in their names. Dry whites of Morgex and La Salle, and sweet whites of Chambave Moscato and Nus Malvoisie, are also produced under the DOC.
A diverse selection of grapes are grown in the region, from Piedmontese varietals like Barbera and Moscato to classic French Gamay and Pinot Noir, and the hardy Muller-Thurgau. Red, white and rosé are produced via six co-operative wineries. There is no IGT category so the region’s 450 growers tend to focus on quality wine in the DOC appellation.
Some interesting examples are wines made from Valle d’Aosta’s native grapes – like the charismatic Picotendro, a local version of Nebbiolo. The Petit Rouge grape is similar to France’s Gamay and is responsible for the reds of Enfer d’Arvier and Torrette. Blanc de Valdigne is the white grape used in Morgex and La Salle, whose vineyards are thought to be the highest in Europe. Some sweet dessert wines are made when conditions permit and Chaudelune (ice wine) is a speciality of these remote vines. The white Petit Arvine is better known for its contribution to Swiss wines. For all their intriguing variety, these wines are relatively rare on the international scene.
Valle d’Aosta or Vallée d’Aoste