The Vallée d’Aoste (fr), or Valle d’Aosta (it) is one of the most underrated, curious zones of the wine world. In a nook between northern Italy, Switzerland and the Rhône-Alpes of France, lies a tiny Denominazione d’Origine Controllata (DOC) less than 1,500 square miles across and up to 4,000 feet above sea level, making it the highest elevated vineyard site in the world.

carte-val-d-aosteThis does great things for the wines, and there is no shortage of varietals: Prié Blanc, Petit Rouge, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Neyret, Fumin, Freisa, Moscato Bianco, Chardonnay, Muller-Thurgau, Petit Arvine, Pinot Gris and Premetta (I haven’t heard of at least a third of these before now).

It seems like blends are pretty common here, and are regulated as part of the DOC standard. The bottle pictured is 90% Nebbiolo with a small amount of Freisa and Neyret. If you’re like me, you love Nebbiolo and are frustrated that most of the good Langhe grapes are used for expensive Barolos & Barbarescos (not hating, just can’t drink that everyday). This wine will give you all the things you’re craving plus that higher altitude kick that might be described as piney, fresh, herbaceous, cool….but unlike the Travaglini I posted recently, it keeps a nice balance between freshness, acidity, tannin and something intangible that is most likely the effect of France being so close.

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