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Adam goes to Aosta

If you’ve been following us on social media you’ll know that Adam has been doing a fair amount of travelling in 2016 with the sole purpose of finding the best vinos on the planet for LVG and Thirsty in the UK. And then having a rather nice time sampling them all….the lucky curly haired so-and-so.

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His latest trip saw him heading through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy to see if he could find some less-well-known-but-mighty-tasty alternatives to some of our mainstream vinos. The trip was made primarily with the goal of sourcing wines for Thirsty in the UK but also with one eye on what would work for LVG in France too.

Over to you A-Rod….

“To be honest, having done a bit of sourcing in the Savoie I wasn’t expecting masses from the Italian side of the hills apart from really nice food (tick, 24 hours later I still feel full to bursting) and some bella scenery.

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As it turns out that there are 4 things going on in Aosta:

  1. As you go up the valley it turns from South-North (not ideal for viticulture) to East-West (great for south-facing hillsides. Lots of sun = ripe grapes)
  2. The soil type changes a lot as you go up the valley
  3. Most of the bad weather comes from the North and West but has to get past Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn to clobber Aosta. Not much of it makes it so the region averages a paltry 450mm or rain a year. Surprisingly enough they actually have to irrigate a lot of the vines.
  4. The wind blows a lot – even before you’ve had a plate of polenta. This clears the fog and dries the grapes on the vines meaning less moisture for fungus and bugs to feed on = happy vines.

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The result?

Well, plenty of fresh, cool-climate stuff but also some surprisingly rich, rounded wines too. They often use a bit of oak ageing (shoving it in barrels, big and small) to smooth things out. We tried whites made from Pinot Gris (often called Malvoisie there), Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Muller Thurgau and Chardonnay as well as the local Petit Arvine. On the reds there was plenty of local Petit Rouge (there’s nothing ‘petit’ about it), almost always in a blend and a lot of Fumin too plus Vuillermin and Mayolet. Better known varieties included Pinot Noir, Gamay, Merlot and the happy-in-the-sun grape – Syrah.

We visited co-ops (groups of grape farmers working together), a small biodynamic (earth, moon, stars hippy stuff) producer, some of the big names and met some seriously memorable folks along the way. One particularly awesome individual was Michel Vallet from Feudo di San Maurizio. He was cracking value, his wines were awesome and and the presentation was dead funky too.

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In short…

A great trip in a part of the Alps that looks lovely even when skies are grey. A big range of producers from tiny to co-op to weirdy-beardy and bonkers with wines to match. Yes, there is some fresh and zingy stuff here but it certainly does not stop there. The ripeness – particularly in the reds – was a welcome surprise and almost all of the wines had great length in addition to plenty of up-front fruit.”

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Producers visited

–          La Kiuva Estero – co-operative in Arnad (where the river runs south)

–          La Crotta Di Vigneron – co-operative in Chambave

–          Les Granges – Biodynamic produer in Nus. We stayed here and strayed into a late-night Grappa tasting – dangerous.

–          Maison Anselmet – one of the posh guys – Villeneuve

–          Lo Triolet – more understated place but wines have big reputation.

–          Feudo di San Maurizio – The fabulously bonkers signor in Sarre.

Partner-in-Crime

–          Andrew Frawley, Nomadic Ski, Chamonix.

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