The Aosta Valley is a mountainous semi-autonomous region in northwestern Italy. It is bordered by Rhône-Alpes, Franceto the west, Valais, Switzerland to the north and the region of Piedmont to the south and east.
This tiniest of regions, has precious little space for vines on its stony alpine terraces. But the miniscule amounts of wine it does produce are distinct from anything else in Italy or its foreign neighbours. Grape varieties range from Piedmontese (Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Moscato) to French (Chardonnay and Pinot), to more adapted cooler climate varieties such as Muller Thurgau. But the most intriguing wines of Valle d’Aosta stem from varieties it calls its own. Perhaps best represented of these are the rich, complex and wild notes of the red Fumin grape and the incredible elegance, delicacy and minerallity of the amazing Petit Arvine white grape.
Join us as we take you up to the highest vineyard in Europe where at 1200mts above sea level you will have the privilege to taste the wines from a producer who produces his unique wines , in miniscule amounts (around 6000 bottles/year) from just 1 hectare of vines. Due to it’s extreme and unique position, the vineyard remains growing on its own roots, making it one of the very last sites in all of Europe where the vines are not grafted onto American rootstocks. It truly is a unique winery, and a definite hidden gem.
From tasting at cantinas of the regions greatest producers as well as some of the regions oldest wine making families (with one family, the famous Anselmets, still making wine from a small parcel of vines contracted from 1585!) we will showcase the best vinos that this region offers.
To compliment the tastings we will be taking you to small family run restaurants perched high above the valley. One such classic little Italian eatery where you are served by the daughter, whilst mum and the other daughter are cooking in the kitchen and when your arrive and ask for lunch and they bring food, whatever is prepared on that day. No menus, just fresh, local, seasonal food.
Come with us to explore the Grand Paradiso National Park where we will visit some of the tiny mountain villages and take a short walk to try and find the local shepherd and visit his cheese-making hut. You can sample some of the locally made cheeses, such as Fontina, but no promises here, the cheese maker will only serve up what is available and ready.
We highly recommend a visit to the Pre St Didier Aqua Terme (Thermal Springs). Set in the tiny mountain village of Pre St Didier, right beneath Mt Blanc, this incredible thermal spring has been known about since roman times. It has now been transformed into a world class spa centre with a plethora of different pools, spas, bubble rooms, waterfalls, saunas etc to help advance the relaxation levels on your holiday. Our favourite haunt is to lay back in the larger outdoor spa pool and watch the sun setting over Mt Blanc, a none-to-shabby view!
In Aosta, we often make exception to our food and wine touring to take the time to check out the Bard Castle. This imposing building has a quite incredible history, and took the cunning of Napoleon’s army to fall for the first and only time in its history. Aside from its amazing historic value, one of our favourite reasons to visit the castle is its ever changing fine art exhibitions eg through the latter half of 2014 the castle was home to a Picasso exhibition.
The Aosta Valley is definitely worth the time to explore and makes a fantastic addition to the start or end of an Italian or wider European trip. Taste of Life Tours would be happy to add a visit (3 days is a great amount of time) to the start or end of one of our set tours or to work in a visit to this amazing alpine region into a fully customised tour of any length.