Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Italy's Alpine Wine Region: Exploring the Valle d'Aosta

Tucked into the remote hills of northern Italy is the Valle d'Aosta, the most isolated of the country's wine producing regions. Home to thirteen indigenous grapes, the rocky soils of Valle d'Aosta produce wines that are distinctive and may remind you more of what's produced over the border in France. (photo by cortomaltese)

This January we'll sample some of the wine and food of Valle d'Aosta. It's a part of Italy's wine culture that can be easily overlooked, since the grapes used are sometimes unfamiliar and not much of the juice finds its way into American markets. (photo of the Grosjean vineyards by dinerologyii)

I had some trouble getting my hands on wine from this part of Italy, but I've managed to find both a red (more than $20, I'm afraid) and a white (less than $5, I am happy to report--but it was on sale).

With our wine I'll be making some traditional food from the Valle d'Aosta--fonduta, which is the Italian version of fondue, served warm over squares of fried polenta. How does that sound for winter comfort food? The people of the region also love their soup. A traditional saying is: "Soup does seven things: it calms hunger and quenches thirst, fills the belly, cleans the teeth, makes you sleep, makes you lean, and gives color to your cheek." Some of their soups are downright casserole-y in consistency, and I'm going to try my hand at making Scuppa de Cogne, which sounds like a cross between French onion soup and risotto. (photo by christianocani)

If you have had any experiences with Valle d'Aosta wine or food, I hope you'll share them in the comments.


Benito said...

This is more tangential, but I always like to use the region name as a fun example of the evolution of language. It started out as Augusta Praetoria, since it was conquered at the time of Caesar Augustus. The valley became known as Vallis Augusta, which in the local dialect ended up as the modern Valle d'Aosta. And it eventually got shortened as the city of Valdosta, Georgia near Florida.

David McDuff said...

I'll look forward to your notes on the region, Deb. I don't get to taste wines of the Valle d'Aosta as often as I'd like but I did recently get to drink (and write-up) the 2004 Fumin from Grosjean Frères.

Anonymous said...

I've recently had a Valle d'Aoste red and a white and both were lively, refreshing, and highly enjoyable. The red was the 2005 Grosjean Pinot Noir. The white was the 2007 Caves du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle Vini Extremi. Eric Asimov also positively mentions the Morgex in yesterday's post on the The Pour. I'm not sure, but it seems Morgex and de la Salle is a sub-appellation within Valle d'Aoste? It's made with a blend of obscure local varieties.

Anonymous said...

@Nick G: I believe there are no IGTs within the Valle d'Aoste DOC (and some wines produced there don't even have that DOC). The subappellations such as "Blanc de Morgex" are not official, just traditional.

Anonymous said...

Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle is a DOC...there are eight DOCs all together..

Dr. Debs said...

Great exchange everybody--you don't need me to pipe in but I will. I've actually got a wine from Caves du Vin Blanc, but it's the "Rayon," Nick. And David, the red I have is made with Petite Rouge so I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for the history lesson, Benito, and for the DOC info, Michele!