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Aosta Native Vines – First Part
Rosa D'Ancona – January 31 , 2007



Introduction

"Difficult and heroic", thus could be defined viticulture in the Aosta Valley.

 
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In this region, the viticulture has run parallel to local human vicissitudes, so much so that it transformed the landscape.

History diverges on how viticulture was introduced into the region. On one hand there are some who believe that the Romans were responsible for the introduction of the first vines. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the plant was already present in the region long before the Romans showed up, and that it was known to the natives Salassi.

According to the second theory, it was thanks to the commercial exchanges with neighboring regions that introduced vine cultivation, where the culture found an ideal environment centuries ago. Vitiviniculture survived all this time thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of the local vignerons (or vintners, in French, the second language of the region).

It is is in most cases mountain viticulture, which required the typical stairway-shaped structure of the landscape, with its low dry-walls and minuscule strips of more or less flat land. The elevation of the vineyards ranges from 300-400 meters (around 984-1,312 feet) in the Bassa Valle (Low Valley), to 500-700 meters (around 1,640-2,300 feet) in the Vallata Centrale ( Central Valley), up to over 800 meters (over 2,624 feet) in the Valle Alta (High Valley). At Morgex, at 1,225 meters (over 4,000 feet) there is the highest vineyard in all Europe.

The thermal extreme excursion between day and night, the incline at which the sun rays hit the vines, because of the climbing nature of the fields, adds to the low amount of precipitation, and contribute to creating some of the favorable conditions for this type of cultivation. The result is a series of extremely typical wines, which manage to carve a top spot in the Italian and international markets for themselves.

Though renownedor its quality, the production of these wines has remained modest in quantity. The total extension of the vineyards is around 500 hectares (around 1,235 acres), with a production of about three thousand metric tons of grapes. Of the total vineyard, 208 hectares (around 514 acres) are dedicated to the production of DOC wines, and produce around 1.4 metric tons of grapes.

The average wine production is around 27,000 hectoliters (around 713,265 gallons) 7,000 (around 185,000 gallons) are DOC. The total number of bottles distributed is 1.7 million.

It is worth noting that in 1985, the Aosta Valley was in among the first Italian regions to obtain a DOC recognition which, under the region's name, groups all the recognized production.

This Denomination of Controlled Origin includes seven sub-denominations by zone:

  • Blanc de Morgex e de la Salle,
  • Enfer d'Arvier,
  • Torrette,
  •   Aosta Valley
    Nus,
  • Chambave,
  • Arnad-Montjovet,
  • Donnas,

and 15 by grape variety:

  • Chardonnay,
  • Cornalin,
  • Fumin,
  • Gamay,
  • Mayolet,
  • Merlot,
  • Muller Turghau,
  • Nebbiolo,
  • Petite Arvine,
  • Petit Rouge,
  • Pinot Blanc,
  • Pinot Gris,
  • Pinot Noir,
  • Premetta and
  • Syrah.

There are 13 native vines in this small Alpine region, of which only one, the Prié, is white, while the other 12 are red:

  • Petit Rouge,
  • Vien de Nus,
  • Fumin,
  • Cornalin,
  • Mayolet,
  • Ner d’Ala,
  • Vuillermin,
  • Premetta,
  • Crovassa,
  • Bonda,
  • Roussin and
  • Roussin de Morgex.

Among the international varieties we find Chardonnay, Muller Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah.

The production is mostly based on six large cooperatives which took a foothold in the region around the 1970s. In addition there are 24 privately owned small enterprises grouped in the 'Viticulteurs Encaveurs' (Vintners Winemakers) association as well as the Institut Agricole Régional, or Regional Institute for Agriculture), which in addition to conducting research and teaching, counts on its own production structure.

DOC and DOCG wines made with the main native vines

NATIVE GRAPES DOC WINES
DOCG WINES
Cornalin
  • Valle d'Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione di vitigno Cornalin

 

Fumin
  • Valle d'Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione di vitigno Fumin
Mayolet
  • Valle d'Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione di vitigno Mayolet
Petit Rouge
  • Valle d'Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione di vitigno Petit Rouge;
    • sottodenominazione d'Area Blanc de Morgex e de la Salle, Chambave, Enfer d'Arvier, Nus, Torrette
Premetta
  • Valle d'Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione di vitigno Premetta
Prié Blanc
  • Valle d'Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione d'Area Blanc de Lorgex et de la Salle
Vien de Nus
  • Valle d'Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione d'Area Nus


 
 
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