So you have decided to go to Val d’Aosta, a sliver of mountainous land bordering on Switzerland and France. This region is bilingual and boasts some of the best skiing in Europe for example on Mount Blanc near Courmayeur. While tiny, you’ll find some 150 historic castles, forts, and towers. Visit the medieval village of Bard and the fort that impeded Napoleon’s military progress for two weeks way back when. St. Vincent has been a spa resort for more than one hundred years and hosts the Casino de la Vallée, popular with the jet set. If you have time for only one castle, make it the Castello Fénis and don’t miss its ancient frescoes. Visit the Parco Nazionale de Gran Paradiso (Grand Paradise National Park) is Italy’s first national park, and once belonged to King Victor Emanuel III. You’ll see many species unique to Europe. Finish your tour in the capital Aosta home to the cathedral, other historic churches, and Roman ruins. The Ad Forum Enoteca built on ancient Roman walls in the center of the city is the place to taste local wines.
Val d’Aosta handles wine classification differently from almost any other region of Italy. There is a single DOC zone that covers the entire region. Most of the thirteen wine styles are identified by grape variety. The reds are dry but the whites may be dry or sweet, still, frizzy, or sparkling. However, little of the local wine is exported to North America. After all, there are only 385 acres (about 155 hectares) of vineyards in the entire Val d’Aosta DOC that are exploited by thousands of growers.
Major white grape varieties include the local Blanc de Morgex and Petite Arvine (popular in Switzerland. International varieties include Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Local red varieties include Petit Rouge, Picotendro (known as Nebbiolo in neighboring Piedmont), Premetta, and Fumin. International red varieties include Gamay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Syrah. For a tiny volume there are lots of grape varieties.
Companies selling regional wine tours include di Vino Tours, Italian Wine Holidays, and Wine Tour Italia. Regional wineries that accept visits include Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle in Morgex and Societa’ Agricola Les Crêtes in Aymavilles. Contact the Institut Agricole Régional in Aosta and Viticulteurs Encaveurs Vallée d'Aoste in Quart for information about visiting other wine producers. A few words of warning are in order. Make sure that you check ahead of time for opening hours and whether English is spoken. Some places may charge admission; others may expect you to buy some of their products.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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Wine tours, wine vacations, wine holidays in Val d'Aosta, Italy