The Wines of the Aosta Valley Region
The story goes that the Aosta wine growing was born with the Roman conquest in the second century and then spread with the colonization of the lands. Some texts by the Latin writers Julius Caesar and Pliny the Elder testify to the thriving winemaking activity of the Valle d'Aosta which later suffered the decline due to a decree by Domitian (92 AD), which imposed the removal of half the vines, practically leading to abandonment of almost all campaigns. To repopulate the rural areas with the breeding of the surviving vines seems to have been the work of the "campagnards", driven by the conviction that those lands could yield considerably.
Many varieties of vines, now considered traditional, such as Malvoise, Muscat de Chambave, Freisa, Picoutendro (Nebbiolo), Neyret, were introduced by the Burgundians and the Franks, while other excellent varieties, including Dolcetto and Barbera, were added later. At the beginning of the nineteenth century every corner of the Aosta Valley praised the green of the vineyards; however, in the second half of the same century, the scourges of Oidium, Downy mildew and Phylloxera seriously damaged the wine heritage of the Valley. Some ancient local vines became extinct, such as Muscatel de Saint-Denis, and others were replaced with allochthonous varieties from Piedmont and France.
The revival of quality Aosta Valley viticulture, therefore, starts again in the sixties, when the autonomous region of Valle d'Aosta decided to invest important financial resources in the wine sector by activating numerous initiatives aimed at the recovery and development of the vine. A very significant step in the valorisation process of Valle d'Aosta viticulture occurred in the years 1971-72 with the obtaining of the DOC for the Donnas and Enfer d'Arviert wines. In 1985 the region was one of the first in Italy to obtain a DOC that, with its name, contained all the productions obtained in its territory.
Climate, Territory and Cultivation systems of the vine
Valle d'Aosta is a mountainous region intersected between green valleys crossed by the Dora Baltea and the majestic reliefs of Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso, which make the landscape particularly fascinating and evocative. The weather conditions are modulated by the continental climate characterized by very cold winters, frequent frosts, mediocre rainfall, and hot and sunny summers.
The Aosta Valley wine-growing area is mainly composed of Granitic soils, which are not very fertile and unsuitable for growing grapes. However, the excellent microclimate, ideal for the production of structured wines and refined fragrance, encourages agricultural entrepreneurs to cultivate the vine in small terraces obtained from steep slopes. The central part, on the other hand, offers better cultivation conditions, thanks to the more fertile soils with a sandy-sandy texture and better drainage, for the benefit of good minerality, freshness and flavor, expressed by white berried wines.
The most common vine growing systems in Valle d'Aosta are Guyot, Pergola and Gobelet, a local version of the Alberello spread in the central part of the Valley.