Valle d’Aosta food Fontina Cheese

Fontina factory

The fontina cheese is produced exclusively in Valle d’Aosta, here, due to the barrier of the Alps, the summer climate is dry: this permits the proliferation of a rich mountain flora composed of highly valued botanical essences. The aroma, the taste, the protein and vitamin contents: the best characteristics of the grasses and flowers of the mountain enter into the food of the cows, into their milk and, consequently, into the Fontina cheese.

The purity of the forage and the distance from the agricultural zones signifies an absolute absence of pesticides and anti-parasites: a natural environment for a genuine cheese. Fontina is prepared with a milk rich in vitamins, natural aromas, without anything being added or taken away: in fact the milk is neither skimmed or pasturized, so the biological and organoleptic components remain intact. The climate and the countryside of the Valle d’Aosta provides ideal conditions to produce this cheese, the only one in the world. Tradition does the rest.

 The history of Fontina is the history of the Valle d’Aosta. The first notes date back to 1200: whereas while there were some who were constructing impregnable castles, someone was paying attention to making life more flavorsome, and so produced the ancestor to the Fontina…

Already cheeses were mentioned in the feudal archives of 1267, and in the Summa Lacticinorum, written in 1477, it is said about Valle d’Aosta: “Here the cheeses are good and the pastures excellent. There are made to medium size, and become stringy when put on the fire or when placed into food”. A description of which there gives off already the perfume of the, by now, famous fondue.

In the castles of the Valle d’Aosta, there are frescoes in which between dames, cavaliers and warriors there may be seen a medieval bench of cheese sellers on which is recognizable the typical form of Fontina.

Making fontina

The preparation of the Fontina is a recipe which as been handed down through the centuries. It is produced exclusively with full cream milk, not pasteurized, from the cow of the breed Valle d’Aosta, feed mainly with green forage in the summer period and with local hay throughout the rest of the year.

The milk is worked within two hours of the milking, to preserve all of its wholesomeness and its perfume. To make it coagulate there is used the rennet of milking calves being prepared directly by the dairyman; within the hour the milk is condensed, worked again to make it homogeneous, and heated to 47-48°C.

After the extraction from the cauldron, the curds are immersed in a net and pressed to let drip through slowly the whey, the mixture left is then placed into the moulds which give the cheese its unmistakable form. After 12 hours, the mixture is then taken out of the moulds. Its form is straw white in color, elastic and soft. The maturing takes place in grottoes cut from the rocks, where the temperature is maintained at 5-10°C, with a level of humidity of at least 90%, to make it mature naturally these precious forms are preserved on pine shelves.

The intervention by man is daily: it needs constant care to make Fontina. The forms are turned over every day, alternating one day for salting and one for brushing. The scrubbing serves to take away from the crust the layer of mould due to the natural fermentation and to make the crust humid. The approximate period for maturing is 3 months.

The Cooperative Producers of Milk and Fontina began in 1957, to teach the producers (in most cases owners of small farms) as well as the consumers, and so was able to offer a guaranteed and secure product, protected from the numerous imitations.

The Cooperative occupies itself with the collecting, maturing and commercialization of the Fontina cheeses. Today there are about 400 producers of Fontina, between individual farms, cheese factory cooperatives and dairy factories: producing about 3.500 tons, equal to 400.000 forms of Fontina every year, guaranteed by the mark stamped by the Consorzio Produttori Fontina on every form, the “seal of quality”.

This mark requires numerous and very severe tests. With the knowledgeable way of tapping on the surface of the form, they know the consistency. The operation of coring consists of extracting a “wedge” of cheese to verify the look and the softness. The piece of cheese is folded between the fingers: if they bend, and the two extremities touch without breaking, then it is worthy to have the mark “fontina”.

Recommended wines:

Friuli Merlot; German Riesling; Dolcetto; Red & White Rhones; Urquell Pilsner.

Summer Time in Courmayeur

Courmayeur
Courmayeur

If you are one of those hearty souls who look out for adventurous holiday destinations that allow you the chance to stretch your legs and get outdoors in beautiful settings, then you should consider taking the easy 100-kilometre trip from Geneva to Courmayeur.

Courmayeur is located in the northern part of Italy, at the foot of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in western Europe. The town shares the administration of the mountain with its French neighbours St Gervais Mont Blanc, who can actually claim the title of €highest town in Europe€. During the winter months, Courmayeur is known for its fantastic skiing and it shares glacial ski access of the Vallee Blanche with another French neighbour, Chamonix. But if you are not a fan of the cold winter months, then don’t worry, a summertime trip from Geneva to Courmayeur is simple and opens up a world of hiking and biking.

Hiking

On the journey from Geneva to Courmayeur, it is the last town before the Mont Blanc tunnel, and it is a great location if you want to get in some hiking in the warm summer months. Not only does staying here offer you the option of going hiking or climbing up the face of Mont Blanc, it also provides a range of hikes that last from two hours to many days and cover a variety of skill levels and difficulty. While here, you certainly need to try some of the local hikes such as the Gran Paradiso, trekking the Alta Via Dei Giganti, or any of the 280 kilometres of mountain trails for summer hiking.

Mountain Biking

Much like the hiking trails that so many travel from Geneva to Courmayeur for, the mountain biking circuit here is rich with diversity. You can rent your bikes in the town and hit the Aosta Valley to find your perfect trail.

If you want something that is challenging, then try the Mont Blanc tour by mountain bike which takes you on a demanding 230 kilometre trip with 8,500 vertical metres to climb (during the course of the ride) over one mountain and three countries. Likewise, you can take a mountain biking tour of the Gran Combin, which will take you along the border of Italy and Switzerland and covers three hills, which range from 2500 to 2800 metres, on a trail that is 125 kilometres long. If you are one of the ultra-active souls that wants to combine a bit of biking and climbing then book a trip through Gran Paradiso National park by mountain bike, where you will take the trails and arrive at the mountain face where you then lose the bike and climb the 4,061 metre mountain using traditional climbing gear. But if you like to bike but want a more gentle [and gentile] route, then there are rolling hills and plenty of vineyard trails to ride that lead between the picturesque towns and green valleys that don’t feature the daunting vertical climbs.

About the Author

Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct. If you’re looking for a Geneva to Courmayeur transfer, Shuttle Direct provide pre-booked shuttles to major destinations all over Europe. Wherever you travel, Shuttle Direct can make sure that you don’t miss your car on your holiday abroad.

Where to stay in Courmayeur

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Ski and Spa in Courmayeur

Courmayeur
Courmayeur

When you are looking for the perfect place to spend your winter holidays, consider making the journey from Geneva to Courmayeur. Transfer vehicles make the sixty-mile trip in no time. Climb aboard and, before you know it, you will arrive in this quaint town in the Aosta Valley in northern Italy.

Superb skiing

Located at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc, Courmayeur shares its administration with the nearby French village of St Gervais Mont Blanc. This gorgeous area draws in visitors year round, and even in the summer it offers expert skiers access to one of the few glacial ski slopes in Europe, at the Vallee Blanche. The ski area boasts about 100 kilometres of slopes that range from a section of beginner slopes all the way up to the expert off-piste and guided glacier runs from the top of the Toula Glacier route.

As you arrive on your Geneva to Courmayeur transfer you will easily get to grips with the small but perfectly-formed pedestrian areas‚¬€now it’s time to explore the village before heading up to the slopes!

Exploring the village

This a classically picture-perfect Italian town with the benefits of a wide array of off-piste entertainment. It is renowned for its delicious cuisine that takes influence from both its Italian heritage and the classic French cooking from across the border. The menus at many of the mountainside restaurants and cafes feature hearty dishes such as wild boar with polenta.

Spa indulgence

With easy access from the rest of the country, this fashionable little gem draws in the stylish set from nearby Italian cities such as Milan for a quick lunch and an afternoon on the slopes or at the spa. After arriving on your Geneva to Courmayeur transfer you may like to consider joining them for an afternoon of indulgence before hitting the slopes!
This stunning region has always enjoyed a rich heritage of spas and a culture that encourages the use of the invigorating natural waters around the village. After a long flight and your Geneva to Courmayeur transfer it’s nothing short of luxurious to be able to unwind in your one of the hotel’s own spa. Once you’ve got the lay of the land, you may want to treat yourself and head five kilometres outside of the village and book an afternoon at Pr© Saint Didier‚¬€a premiere spa with mud baths, massages, steam rooms and outdoor pools that allow you to relax and gaze up at the stunning vista of Mont Blanc. Bliss.

About the Author

Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct. If you’re looking for a Geneva to Courmayeur transfer, Shuttle Direct provide pre-booked shuttles to major destinations all over Europe. Wherever you travel, Shuttle Direct can make sure that you don’t miss your car on your holiday abroad.

Where to stay in Courmayeur

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Italian Winter Vacations – Visit The Val D’Aosta Region

Winter
Winter – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley

Don’t think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are lots of things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian winter vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, and sometimes skiing and other winter sports. Italian winter holidays offer several advantages: You won’t have to fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find, and every region has its own winter festivals. When we say winter, we mean November to February; spring comes early in Italy. Don’t look here for information about Italy’s marvelous Carnivale; we plan a separate series covering regional Carnivale celebrations. Talk about planning; start organizing your Italian winter holidays now. Keep reading.

The Aosta Valley is a tiny bilingual (Italian and French-speaking) enclave in the northwest corner of Italy bordering on France and Switzerland. This is alpine country so I don’t have to tell you about all the skiing opportunities. You’ll find the rugged, unspoiled Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso is open all winter. It’s a great place for hiking.

On November first the village of Cogne at the edge of the Parco celebrates the Cantes Festival, which is dedicated to the community’s boys. They are offered wine and food and participants sing until sunset. About one week later Perloz celebrates the final of the Concours Bataille des Chevres (Goat Fight). There’s an exhibition of the local breeders’ best animals and a competition among these goats, which are classed into three categories. The winners are awarded “tchambis”, maple and walnut collars hand inlaid with the traditional bell. Lesser prizes honor eight other goats in each category.

In the capital Aosta December means a week long International Hot Air Balloon Encounter culminating in the ascent of Mont Blanc. You’ll find Living Nativity Scenes almost everywhere in the region. On December 30 in the alpine resort of Breuil-Cervinia at the base of the Matterhorn you can enjoy a torch lit procession on skis followed by a fireworks display.

On the next to last Sunday of January the village of Donnas hosts the Fiera del Legno (Wood Fair) similar to the event taking place in the regional capital about two weeks later. On January 30 and 31 the historic center of the capital Aosta celebrates the Saint Orso Feast Day, a woodcarver’s fair that started about 1000 years ago. You’ll find over seven hundred artisans displaying and selling their woodwork, soapstone, wrought iron and leather, weaving, and other fine work. The Fair is an excellent expression of the Aosta Valley’s historical and cultural environment. There is also music and food and wine tasting that includes mulled wine. The streets are full until dawn. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Val D’Aosta wines.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which includes information on Italian wine and food.

Where to stay in Breuil Cervinia

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The Beauty of An Italy Trip to The Aosta Valley

Prato Sant'Orso
Prato Sant’Orso – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley

Aosta Valley is the least populous, least densely populated and smallest region of Italy. This region consists of 74 comuni, making it the only Italian region without provinces. The terrain of Aosta Valley is filled with mountains, having even the highest peaks in the continent (Gran Paradiso, Monte Bianco, Cervino and Monta Rosa). An Italy trip to this territory will give you a glimpse of natural wonders as the scenic green valley’s on the sides of the long Dora Baltea River.

Aosta, the capital of the region is rich in history. This territory enjoyed prosperity in the old times because of its strategic location. It was a significant focal point for mercantile with the countries of Switzerland and France. The stunning churches such as Cathedral Church of S. Orso and Cathedral are just two of the many artifacts expressing the region’s prosperity way back in the past.

Tourism plays a significant part in Aosta’s economy. Winter snow and summer heat both allows mountain activities exciting. This mountainous spot is a perfect destination for winter sport enthusiast who would love to spend a budget Italy trip in the cold yet adventure-filled valley. Holiday towns and ski resorts are all around the City of Aosta Valley. Among the well-known and reputable resorts are renowned Cervinia and Courmayeur.

A cheap Italy trip to Aosta Valley include noteworthy visits to natural splendors of numerous monuments, exquisite artistic and ancient traditions and of course, the density of multistory buildings. Along the feet of the valley lies barbaric structures such as Castle of Issogne, Castle of Fenis and the famous casino are significant manifestation of richness of the past. Astounding natural landscapes of the valley offers a marvelous trip to Italy, specifically Italy’s highest peaks. On a budget trip to Italy – Aosta Valley is still fun-filled with a memorable visit to the extensive natural park which has a high mountain at the center.

The beauty of this natural wonder seems to be an out-of-the-ordinary ways to enjoy an Italy trip. May it be with the summer heat or even on the cold winter days.

About the Author

Priscila Siano is the Business Manager of TourItalyNow.com, a pioneer among the world’s online providers of escorted, customized, small group tours to Italy. She also enjoys writing articles about escorted tours Italy. Feel free to republish this article provided you do not edit it in any way and include the author bio as well.

Where to stay in Cogne

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Caffè alla valdostana

Caffe alla valdostana Aosta Valley

Have you skied for the whole day? Are you in an high mountain hut? Are you tasting the regional specialties in a typical restaurant with your family or with your best friends?

Between Valle d’Aosta’s titbits, you will find something for you: “Caffè alla valdostana”, the typical regional coffee.

Pour one cup of hot coffee and one cup of hot grappa per person in the special container. Add an orange peel, a lemon peel and a spoonful of sugar per person and burn.

Sprinkle the spouts of the container with sugar: with fire it will candy and it will give a particular flavor to your hot drink. Add the desire to be together, the persons you like, those you love and you will have a perfect “Caffè alla valdostana”.

In fact, the wooden container of this drink is called “Coppa dell’amicizia”, “Friendship’s Cup”: in Valle d’Aosta, people say that persons who drink at the same “Coppa” will be united by an eternal friendship.

But there is a rule to observe: you must pass it around, “a la ronde”, and everyone must drink a sip from a different spout. And remember: it is strictly forbidden to put “Coppa dell’amicizia” on the table before having finished the coffee inside! Cheers!

Walking in the Valle d’Aosta

I have chosen three walks with the aim to provide something for everyone from families to advanced hill walkers.  For all of the walks,

Walking in Italian Alps can be an extremely rewarding prospect for a number of reasons, not least the food at the end of a long days walk.  The summer climate is excellent for walking, especially for those who don’t mind rising a little earlier. There are also a huge variety of paths which can cater for all tastes.  This is made even better due to the fact that the least demanding paths are very well marked for family walks and because most Italians stick to these main routes those who are seeking a bit more of a challenge don’t have to look hard.  Walking is also a major past time in Italy compared with Britain probably because of the reasons mentioned which means that most paths usually have people on then to help guide the way if needed.  Lastly Italy like much of the Alps often has refuges at the top of hills, not unlike Snowdon in Wales.  However unlike Snowdon these refuges are not in the main tourist attractions selling over priced sandwiches and rubbers.  Rather they are often run as B&B’s, restaurants or both selling almost always local food and drink.  They are either owned by the Italian Alpine Club (Club Alpino Italiano or CAI) or privately owned and run.  Either way they are a very welcome presence for both day hikers and trail walkers.  From my own experience they are also a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon eating excellent, reasonably priced food followed by coffee and a grappa.

It is because of this potential that I have found myself on a number of occasions walking in the Italian Alps and within the article I hope to show that whilst Monte Bianco offers a great deal for mountaineers the Alps has just as much to offer for a whole variety of walkers.  I have found it easiest to base myself in Courmayeur because although it is more expensive than Morgex and Aosta located further down the valle it has unrivaled access to the best routes.  I have chosen three walks with the aim to provide something for everyone from families to advanced hill walkers.  For all of the walks, hikers would be advised to purchase the Mont Blanc/ Courmayeur/ Chamonix/ La Thuile 1:25,000 maps made by the Istituto Geografico Centrale.  Whilst all European maps lack the detail of British OS or Harvey maps this is the closest I have found to the British equivalent.

La Palud to Pavillon (Hard) Although this walk is very short it is definitely a challenge, made all the better because of the wonderful restaurant at the end.  The main difficulty with this is the sheer steepness, as the walk is only around 2km long but climbs 1000m.  From Courmayeur take the bus to Coudrey (just up the valley) or if you have a car there is a car park in La Palud.  The first part of the walk is through the village and then moves into forest track which is extremely steep.  If you have any issues with joints take walking sticks as I struggled without mine.  Once out of the forest you wind you way upwards into spectacular views down the valley.  I walked as the sun was rising which made the walk all the more impressive.  The route is clearly marked so navigation is not an issue; however this is a walk for people who like a challenge rather than those looking for a long days walk.  The walk takes around one and a half hours in total but could be completed quicker depending on fitness levels.  Once at Pavillon (the refuge and cable car base) I would advise staying for food at the restaurant followed by a rest out on the sun loungers.  You can then either take the cable car up (to Ponte Helbronner 3450m, viewing platform) or down to Praz Dele (1381m) where there is a bus stop, café and a number of bars.  Although at first this seems like a short walk the rewards are massive the views alone are worth the effort, however there is the added benefit of other members of you group being able to take the cable car up to meet you.  This is especially useful if you are with children.

Courmayeur to Val Ferret (Level Moderate with the potential for Hard) This walk is best started in the center of Courmayeur, especially as you have access to some excellent bars open early for coffee, most notably Bar Centro which can be found at the bottom of the high street.  After this you head up the high street to the Guida Alpina (local guide’s office) located next the recently renovated church.  From here you head for the small village of Villair along the Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) route, which begins with a forest track.  After crossing a bridge you head upwards on a steep track (this is the most challenging part) for around 2 hours if with non walkers.  Although the top is some 1989 meters you actually only climb around 700 from Courmayeur.  On the day I walked up a family were walking up with children as young as 6 or 7.  It can easily be done with a day pack in under an hour, as I reached the top in just over 50 minutes.  At the top you will reach the Refuge di Bertone a family run refuge which sells excellent food and drink.  The refuge is also home to some of the most spectacular views in the low Alps and is well worth the walk.  From this point you have two choices, firstly for families you can return downwards into Val Ferret along the route marked 31.  This route is very gentle and leads you down eventually to Planpincieux where you will find a restaurant and a regular bus service (every 15 minutes) to take you back to Courmayeur.  The other option is to continue to the top of Mont de la Saxe (2345m)Feature Articles, which is around a 30 minute walk from the refuge.  You then continue walking along the TMB route and descend steeply to the Col Sapin (2435m).  From here you continue down and then follow the Torrent D’Arminaz along rout 29 down to the valley.  This takes around an hour and a half and is much more demanding than the first option but well worth it for experienced walkers.

Val Ferret Walk (Easy) Val Ferret is one of the three glacial valleys which meet at the base of Monte Bianco (Italian for Mont Blanc).  It runs South West-North East for around 10-15 km and provides perhaps the best opportunity for easy walking with children in the area.  You can start the day either by walking from Le Saxe (1260) a small village on the outskirts of Courmayeur or taking the bus to Pont Perrin at the entrance to the valley (1495m).  If you are walking you walk through Le Saxe and follow Route 1 for around ¼ km until you meet the main road and walk along side where the route changes into route 33.  You then follow the river on your left into the valley for around 30 mins.  This is fairly flat and passes through some very picturesque forest paths.  Once at Pont Perrin you walk along side the road to Planpincieux.  At this point you can leave the road and walk northwards up Route 21 which is a small climb.  Although this leads into the mountains there are some excellent spots for a picnic along this route which is usually quieter than the routes further up the valley.  From this point in the valley you can walk along side the Doire du Val Ferret (glacial fed river) which in some is beautiful as you have the Monte Bianco range to the west.  Once you get to Lavachey (1640m) there are a number of excellent restaurants selling local food and excellent wine.  In the summer months this route becomes very busy so I would advise that walkers start out early before the tourist hoards arrive.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

Author Carmine Sacco is a free lance writer and owner of the web site   www.italiansapore.co.uk

Where to stay in Courmayeur

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

“Difficult and heroic”, thus could be defined viticulture in the Valle d’Aosta.

Photo  Monica - Wine! Valle D'Aosta - Donnas
Photo Monica – Wine! Valle D’Aosta – Donnas

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 renown for 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 Valle d’Aosta 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_en

    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 Prie’, 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 Regional, 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
Prie’ Blanc
  • Valle d’Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione d’Area Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle
Vien de Nus
  • Valle d’Aosta:
    • sottodenominazione d’Area Nus

Courtesy of italian-flavor.com

I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Valdaosta Region

 Nano Pausa Aymavilles - L'Atouyéo
Photo Nano Pausa
Aymavilles – L’Atouyéo

An article by: Levi Reiss

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Valle d’Aosta region of northern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

The Valle d’Aosta is a tiny corner of of northwestern Italy bordering on France and Switzerland. This valley is surrounded by high mountains, including Europe’s highest peak, Mount Blanc. This was arguably the last region of Italy to be populated, because it was covered with ice until relatively recently. Over time it was occupied by Celts, Romans, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards, and Franks.

It is bilingual, Italian and French. The Valle d’Aosta is by far the smallest region of Italy with a population of only 120 thousand.

Agriculture is not particularly important, with the exception of cattle raising. There is substantial forestry and some industry, in particular hydroelectric power. The region is one of the wealthiest in Italy, with a highly developed tourist sector.

This region has no single capital. The largest city is Aosta, with a population of about 35 thousand. It was a Roman garrison over two thousand years ago, and is the best example of Roman city planning in Italy. Among the Valle d’Aosta’s tourist attractions are the remains of a Roman amphitheater said to hold 20,000 spectators. Other tourist attractions include medieval fortresses and churches, the Matterhorn, and Mount Blanc.

The Valle d’Aosta devotes only fifteen hundred acres to grapevines, and ranks 20th among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about six hundred thousand gallons, also giving it a 20th place. About 90% of the wine production is red or rose’ (only a bit of rose’), leaving about 10% for white. The region produces a single DOC wine, that is divided into 23 categories. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin. Almost 23% of this region’s wine carries the DOC. The Valle d’Aosta is home to almost three dozen major and secondary grape varieties, with somewhat more red than white varieties.

Chardonnay is the most important international white grape variety in the Valle d’Aosta. Muscat and Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) are also grown. Local white varieties include Blanc de Morgeux and Petite Arvine, also grown in Switzerland.

International red grape varieties grown in the Valle d’Aosta include Gamay, Grenache, Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), and Syrah. Local red varieties include Picotendro (called Nebbiolo in neighboring Piedmont and arguably Italy’s finest red grape), Petit Rouge, and Fumin. In the unfortunate absence of any Valle d’Aosta wines, I am reviewing a DOCG Nebbiolo-based wine from neighboring Piedmont. If I am ever in the Valle d’Aosta, I promise to drink and review a few local wines.

Before reviewing the Valle d’Aosta-style wine and Italian cheese that I was lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.

Start with Jambon de Bosses; Uncooked Ham. As the second course try Carro’ D’Agnello Gratinato Alle Erbe; Grilled Loin of Lamb in a Pastry and Herb Crust. For dessert indulge yourself with Crema alla Panna; Pannacotta from the Valle d’Aosta (a sort of creme caramel without eggs.)

About the Author

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. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com. You can reach him at ital@mail.theworldwidewine.com.

Etroubles: a village between art and nature.

Etroubles
Etroubles

Étroubles is rich in history: in the hamlet of Vachéry, is the tower of the twelfth century. Of old, in Étroubles, the small capital of the Valle del Gran San Bernardo, remains the bell tower, built in cutting of stones square top in 1480 with the carved wooden portal of the seventeenth it was the entrance to the old church. The parish church of today was built in 1814 and houses within the Trésor de la Paroisse with sacred objects of the fourteenth to the present day.

To ignite the imagination, in the medieval village, are the narrow cobblestone streets, the springs from which flows the cool water of the mountain Vélan, the renovated houses made of local stone with roofs lose, according to the traditional architectural types. In rural buildings dominate the wood and the stone, because the peasants employed materials that were in place.

Etroubles
Etroubles

The village is a pedestrian area, green areas, meadows and mountain pastures are well maintained, the balconies are always full of flowers, the Via Francigena is the subject of careful maintenance, many corners and streets were retrained. Étroubles is a demonstration of how the mountain can survive without distorting and give in to the tourism invasive. Still to see are: the first dairy turnaria of the Aosta Valley (1853), now a museum, the first hydroelectric plant in the Valle del Gran San Bernardo, the Central Bertin, dating back to 1904 and the five chapels in the parish has main villages. The chapel of Bezet, with its frescoes, is in 1742, that of Echevennoz, with its murals, was founded in 1440 and restored in 1836; Eternod was rebuilt in 1935 on the existing seventeenth-century chapel; Vachéry, built in 1506 and restored in 1999, an altar carved in wood of the eighteenth century, Saint-Roch near the cemetery and recently restored after a long period of neglect.

Fontine
Fontine – Photo © Donato Arcaro, touristic and naturalistic guide of the Aosta Valley

The local products

The undisputed queen of the flavors of the cheese is Étroubles, DOP cheese made with whole milk cow Aosta Valley. The fontine Alpine, in particular, the richest flavor and fragrances, are celebrated as the best in the Valle d’Aosta, thanks to the expertise of uncontaminated pastures and cheese makers.

The local dishes

It’s the soup with fontina cheese and black bread. The preparation and baking of bread is one of the most important events for the whole community. With the word “pan ner” is defined as the bread of rye and wheat which was the staple food for the family. This bread lasts a long time on ratelì (racks of bread). The bread is baked in a wood oven Community once during the year in November and is preserved essicandolo.

Where to stay in Etroubles

There are high quality hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.