The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine: Donnas Valle d’Aosta Rosso 2010

Posted on | March 10, 2015 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

RD8757-2For hundreds of years, culture and language near the northern border of Italy have completely ignored political boundaries. In Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italian culture merges with Slovenian customs; in Tyrolean Alto Adige, it collides head-on with Austrian and German traditions. The same occurs in the Alpine northwest, where Italy borders France and Switzerland in a lovely anthropologic mix.

Especially in this part of the world, wine and food finely intertwines with the culture. The cross pollination of winemaking techniques and centuries old cooking traditions makes these regional wines very unique. In the tiny town of Donnas, in the valley of Aosta, fantastic Nebbiolo is grown on steep slopes. These steep, rocky pitches not only provide great drainage for the vines, but they make the vines a struggle to produce beautiful fruit. The locals proudly refer to these wines as “mountain Barolo,” and fittingly so with the Piemontese border only a few miles away. All this yields an earthy, airy, Alpine wine closer to a Barbaresco than a Barolo, but lovely nonetheless.

I recently enjoyed a bottle of the Donnas Valle d’Aosta Rosso 2010 last Friday at a local Italian restaurant. I have enjoyed this wine with several different pairings. This particular time I wanted to test it a bit to see how versatile the wine was. It certainly did not disappoint. The first pairing was against a pizza served as an appetizer. The pizza had no sauce, but had Fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto, and arugula. The acidity stood up to the ingredients beautifully, especially the cheese. The saltiness of the prosciutto played well with the tannins in the Nebbiolo in the wine, while the peppery tones of the arugula counteracted with the pretty red fruit of the Freisa and Neyret. The wine surprised me a bit when paired with a rich Italian American take on chicken parm. It stood up to the dish, while remaining true to its Alpine character full of finesse; I did not see that coming! Expect the 2010 to be a bit sharper and fuller than the 2009 while still being very elegant. I highly recommend this splendid and unique portrayal of Nebbiolo. For $24.99 this wine demonstrates tremendous value any night of the week.

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