The Valle D’Aosta is a unique and fascinating wine region; it is, as its geographic name suggests, a valley, and to be more specific is more than 80 km long, gradually rising along an east-west trend (thanks to its orientation the slopes get sunlight from sunup to sundown), with a succession of varietals along the valley slopes, each grown at the altitude that best suits it. Some are white, and in the town of Chambrave, at an elevation of 550-600 meters, Moscato Bianco does especially well.
So this year at Vinitialy the Regione Valle D’Aosta organized a vertical of Valle D’Aosta DOC Muscat, featuring 6 wines from the La Crotta di Vegneron, a cooperative that was founded by a group of 25 winemakers in 1980, and now boast about a hundred members. They make a fair number of wines, including this Muscat, and we tasted 6 vintages, ranging from 2001 to 2011. It was quite interesting, and I was impressed by the ageworthiness of the older wines.
La Crotta di Vegneron Chambrave Muscat Vallée d’Aoste DOC 2001
Deep gold with brilliant golden reflections and rim that pales to white. Quite charged. The bouquet is intense, with honey and some tropical fruit laced with candied pear and supported by some greenish accents and some gunflint; it’s clearly mature and wears its maturity well. On the palate it’s ample, with lively sour white berry fruit supported by lemony acidity and as it flows towards the finish considerable hazelnut bitterness with underlying sea salt and a slight greenish burr that continues with the support of the acidity. Quite interesting and very much alive, with tertiary accents that contribute complexity, and a hint of oxidation that adds depth. It’s a wine I would be more tempted to drink with curious friends than at table.
La Crotta di Vegneron Chambrave Muscat Vallée d’Aoste DOC 2002
Lively brassy gold with golden reflections and white rim; by comparison with the 01 it’s more gold and less yellow. The bouquet is moderately intense and mineral, with mineral acidity and some yellow peach mingled with hints of heather, Mediterranean scrub, medicinal herbs, and honey. Interesting. On the palate it’s quite dry, with bright lemony pineapple acidity and fruit supported by slight flinty tannins and by bright lemony acidity that flows into a clean mineral sour pineapple finish. It clearly reveals the cooler wetter nature of the 2002 summer, with terrific acidity that carries very well and sustains the wine.
La Crotta di Vegneron Chambrave Muscat Vallée d’Aoste DOC 2004
Decidedly less charged gold than either the 02 or the 01, with brilliant brassy reflections and a white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with considerable smoke mingled with greenish notes and some heather, and some spice. In an odd way it comes across as more mature than the 02; which is more linear and more bracing. On the palate it’s ample, with fairly bright yellow peach fruit supported by minerality and slight mentholated accents, with underlying gunflint minerality and slightly flinty tannins that flow into a finish that combines yellow peaches with some greenish accents, and a flinty tannic underpinning. While richer, I found it less interesting than the older vintages.
La Crotta di Vegneron Chambrave Muscat Vallée d’Aoste DOC 2006
Slightly more charged gold than the 2004, with brilliant golden reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense,with citrus and yellow peach mingled with mentholated notes and slight camphor, and also some spice. On the palate it’s ample, and dry, with moderately intense yellow peach supported by lively slightly bitter pineapple lemon acidity that flows into a fairly bright citric finish that continues at length, and gradually fades into more bitter somewhat balsamic notes as the acidity declines. Quite pleasant, and a wine I could hold a conversation with.
La Crotta di Vegneron Chambrave Muscat Vallée d’Aoste DOC 2008
Lively brassy gold with golden reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense, with honey and yellow peaches mingled with some eucalyptus and delicate white blossoms, and some mineral acidity. It’s fresher than the older wines, and this is simply youth. On the palate it’s ample and citric, thanks to the acidity, while the underlying fruit is fairly green peach, and it flows into a clean peach laced finish with some hints of flinty tannin that provide direction and depth. Pleasant, and will work quite nicely as an aperitif.
La Crotta di Vegneron Chambrave Muscat Vallée d’Aoste DOC 2011
Pale brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense and fresh, with elelgant floral notes mingled with yellow peaches and slightly mentholated heather; it has a pleasing lusciousness to it and is quite obviously dry. On the palate it’s ample, with rich yellow peach fruit supported by pineapple and tannins that bring to mind the eye of a pineapple, and flow into a clean rather bitter pineapple finish with underlying flinty bitterness that carries into the finish. Quite pleasant in a direct key, and will drink very well as an aperitif or with foods. Also nice aging capacity.