In the extreme northwest of Italy, nestled among the mountains, Valle d'Aosta is small in size, but produces a lot of wine.
The Aosta Valley (Valle d’Aosta or Val d’Aosta in Italian) is renowned for its “heroic viticulture.” The slopes of this ancient alpine river valley are so steep that all the work in the vineyards must be carried out by hand. Grape growing there is shaped by the cool alpine air currents that arrive from the north and the granitic composition of the valley’s walls. Combined they create the ideal conditions for diurnal shifts: The granitic rock traps the warmth of the sun during the day, while the cool air cools the vineyards at night, thus prolonging the vegetative cycle and delivering freshness and rich flavors in the wine. The main grape varieties grown there are Nebbiolo, which makes for lighter-styled but nonetheless complex wines, and the native Petit Rouge, which is made generally in a bright, fruit-forward (but not jammy) style. Chardonnay is also grown there with spectacular results.