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The vine has been cultivated in the Valle d’Aosta since the Roman period or perhaps even earlier, if various legends can be believed. According to those stories, the Salassi, who lived in the region before the Romans conquered it due to its strategic value, were already making wines from grapes grown in their own vineyards.
It is known with certainty that in 23 BC the Roman legions crushed a rebellion by the valley’s inhabitants and celebrated their victory by looting all the cellars of their wine. It was during the Middle Ages, however, that the Valle d’Aosta wine established a widespread reputation. And they acquired something of a “sacral” character as well because, according to numerous reports, they were used in the rite of exorcism.
The physical layout of the valley favors the cultivation of vines because the mountains tend to block or turn aside the coldest winds, thereby creating suitable microclimates in which grapes have flourished since the remotest times, creating a microclimates where the Valle d’Aosta wine can be produced even at high altitudes. In the second half of the 19th century, the phylloxera epidemic devastated the Valle d’Aosta vineyards over a period of many years. Fortunately, although the devastation was enormous, destruction was not total. The vineyards slowly revived and flourished anew. The only lasting setback was the disappearance of several vine varieties, reducing the number of varieties of the Valle d’Aosta wine.
Donnaz was the valley’s first DOC wine, receiving that recognition in 1971. The following year, it was the turn of Enfer d’Arvier. Although other wines were in line and qualified to receive the DOC designation, all further movement was halted until 1985 while a plan was worked out to place all regional wines of fine quality under the common denomination of Valle d’Aosta-Vallée d’Aoste wine. The regional indication is followed by the name of the variety involved or of a restricted production area.
Courtesy of the Italian Trade Commission
The Valledaosta wines match very well the Valledaosta cuisine, with its local recipes.