Château Feuillet’s high-altitude, fully dry Moscato is one-of-a-kind. Expect bountiful aromas of wildflowers and bright fruit delivered with crunchy acidity and granitic minerality in an utterly thirst-quenching package.
If Maurizio Fiorano became a vineyard owner by chance, he was lucky in the placement of his plots—he will humbly tell you that it’s not hard to make good wine here. The vines sit in shallow sandy soil, but their feet wriggle into crevices in the solid granite bedrock. The vineyards are planted on an ancient riverbed, where the Dora Baltea River cut through, creating the current river valley and leaving behind mineral deposits that the wines happily lap up. The trump card, however, may be high altitude and diurnal temperature shifts providing long hours of gentle sunlight. This gives the grapes a long, slow ripening season that in turn offers red wines with the heft of a sunny climate that are still refreshing and light.If Maurizio became a vineyard owner by chance, he was exceedingly lucky in the placement of his plots—he will humbly tell you that it’s not hard to make good wine here. The vines sit in a very shallow sandy soil, but their feet wriggle into crevices in the solid granite bedrock. Any rain is quickly dried out by cleansing winds. And the vineyards are planted on an ancient riverbed, where over the millennia the Dora Baltea River has cut through the mountain, creating the current river valley and leaving behind mineral deposits that the wines happily lap up. The trump card, however, may be the exposition of the vineyards, which in combination with the chilly climate, high altitude, and drastic diurnal temperature shifts provides the magic charm sought by vignerons everywhere: extremely long hours of gentle sunlight. In fact, the vineyards here capture the sun so perfectly that the almond trees scattered over the slope blossom at the same time as those in Sicily, over 550 miles farther south! This gives the grapes an exceptionally long, slow ripening season that in turn offers very unusual red wines with the heft of a sunny climate that are still refreshing and light on their feet, as you might expect of a northern wine.
Claiming an impressive list of autochthonous varieties, Valle d'Aosta is a long, narrow valley, formed by Italy’s extreme northwestern Alps. The region, a natural gateway between Italy and France, is also home to many grape migrants from France and its more southerly Italian neighbors. Not surprisingly, wine labels are often written in Italian and French.
The main whites here include: Petite Arvine and Prié blanc (Blanc de Morgex). For reds: Fumin, Cornalin, Mayolet, Petit Rouge, Premetta, Vuillermin, Neblou, and Vien de Nus are unique to the region. French ones that do well are Gamay noir, Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot gris (confusingly called Malvoisie in Aosta but it is not related to Malvasia). Italian grapes common here include Moscato, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, and from farther away, Ciliegiolo.
While Muscat comes in a wide range of styles from dry to sweet, still to sparkling and even fortified, it's safe to say it is always alluringly aromatic and delightful. The two most important versions are the noble, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, making wines of considerable quality and Muscat of Alexandria, thought to be a progeny of the former. Somm Secret—Pliny the Elder wrote in the 13th century of a sweet, perfumed grape variety so attractive to bees that he referred to it as uva apiana, or “grape of the bees.” Most likely, he was describing Muscat.