Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Aosta Valley Region
The Aosta Valley Wine Region
Main Article Contents
The territory of Aosta Valley
Aosta Valley (Italian: Valle d’Aosta) is a small region (about 3000 sq km), entirely mountainous, with the highest mountains in Italy, on which stands the Mont Blanc (4950 m). The central valley, created by the river Dora Baltea, runs from west to east and is the most fertile area of the region. The climate is continental, with extremely cold winters and relatively short but very hot summers. Along the valley the climate becomes milder and less rainy and the most sun-exposed areas are particularly suitable for the cultivation of vine.
The Viticulture in Aosta Valley
Aosta Valley has a small vineyard area (about 400 hectares ) of which 70% on mountains and the remaining on hills. The cultivation of vine is located primarily along the 80 km of the course of the river Baltea and – as often happens in mountainous areas such as the Valtellina or certain plots in South Tyrol – is based on terraces supported by stone walls partly supported by the roots of the vines. On these very steep terraces, as automated forms of pruning or harvesting being excluded from the start, the forms of traditional farming – as Pergola – take advantage over the more modern ones.
The indigenous grape varieties of Aosta Valley
The varieties of grape cultivated in the region are almost all indigenous, also because these varieties ca grow at altitudes where other grapes would not survive or would not be productive. Among those with black berry the Petit Rouge, the Prëmetta and the Fumin. The Prié Blanc as a white berry one. Other indigenous varieties are the Mayolet, the Roussin, the Vuillermin, the Neyret and may others! In the lower areas and less extreme climate the Nebbiolo, Freisa and Moscato Bianco .
Appellations of origi in Aosta Valley
Despite its small size, the Aosta Valley wine production shows variety and a remarkable complexity. In the region there is a single DOC – the Valle d’Aosta or Vallée d’Aoste DOC – which includes 7 subzones (Arnad-Montjovet, Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle, Chambave, Donnas, Enfer d’Avrier, Nus, Turrette), all of them well characterized from the point of view of soil and climate. The regional food appellations (DOP) are very characterized and all worthy of mention as well: among the cheese appellations, the Fontina DOP and the Valle d’Aosta Fromadzo DOP, amond the cold-cuts the Valle d’Aosta Jambon de Bosses DOP and the Valle d’Aosta Lard d’Arnad DOP.
The regional cuisine of Aosta Valley
The cuisine of Aosta Valley preserves its ancient roots and is therefore inextricably linked to local products. It’s a rustic and simple cuisine, tipical of a mountain area, based largely on a few local ingredients such as cabbage, potatoes, beans, chestnuts, rye, barley, old varieties of corn, apple vinegar and many local varieties of apples and pears (the best known of all the “Martin sec”). Being a cuisine of a mountain area, wild game, pork (especially the sausages) and cheese play an important role. The local cheese (with different degrees of seasoning) still retain the flavor of high mountain herbs and taste and smell differently depending on the season.
Peculiar in regional cuisine of Aosta Valley is the almost total lack of wheat and then of pasta, eplaced by potatoes (gnocchi), polenta (made from corn, rye and buckwheat) and rice (from the nearby Piedmont). Many are the influences of French cuisine and particularly the similarities with the cuisine of neighboring transalpine regions (Savoy, Upper Savoy and Valais).
Among the most popular soups, dense almost like casseroles or gratin baked, the polenta concia, enriched with a good dose cheese , the “carbonade” (a beef stew), many meat based sauces and the many dishes based on melted cheese, the best known of all is the fondue (fonduta). The home preparation of bread from rye or barley, of apple vinegar and of walnut oil (mostly used for salads) is still largely diffused. The use of extra virgin olive oil is scarce, even today the most used cooking fat are butter and lard .